There is another awful aspect to the anointing of rape that has not yet been discussed but has been carried out in all its degradation. State sanctioned rape in marriages has opened a precedent for rapists to avoid jail time if they just sign some papers and participate in the ceremony of ‘matrimonial rape’.
Twenty three years old Balaram Bhoi of Manakarapur village was the first to participate in this ceremony. He waited in a Kendrapada prison for a few months for the woman he had raped to become of age – wouldn’t want to shatter the conscience of society by having a rapist marry an underage survivor. Subsequently, upon her eighteenth birthday, District Judge B K Rath arranged the ceremony in the prison complex. As reported, or rather under-reported in the Times of India, Balaram, the rapist, was ecstatic about the entire ceremony, “Now, I am happy after wedding,” said he. Why shouldn’t he be? After all he has been given a free pass to be a self-entitled sexual predator under the jurisdiction of the law.
How does the survivor feel? As noted in the Times of India, she said – “I have forgiven him because he has chosen me as his wife. I have to love him now.” She has to love him now. What’s that called when you concede your autonomy and agency to circumstances beyond your control? …Slavery.
Congratulations Mr. Modi, for having subverted the will of human rights to engender the culture of women’s slavery by amicably arranging marriages between rapist and survivors. I mean that’s what women were born to do, right, as was stipulated by you during the launch of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, “If girls are not born, where will you get your daughters-in-law from?”
So, while fast track courts for rapists have not particularly been Modi’s strong suit, fast track weddings seems to illuminate his prowess!
How does the mother of this entire arrangement feel? According to the Times of India – “The victim faced a life as an outcast, and stigmatized by society for being a rape survivor. But if her assailant married her, the shame would be lifted…” Ignore the already boiling blood of the mom’s coercion. Ignore the denial of resources to address the survivor’s health. Ignore that this is the only time that the Times of India has referred to an assaulted woman as a ‘survivor’.
Herein lies the problem…It’s not an Indian problem, it is a global problem. It is born out of systematic and structural denial of resources to humanize and in a way, profits from dehumanization of people’s identities. It cries ‘development’ and stands on the backs of Dalits. In Australia, it does the same while standing on the back of indigenous peoples. In the United States, it cries ‘social development’ while standing on the backs of Blacks. It cries ‘human rights’ in the Middle East while strangling Palestine. As Arundhati Roy stipulated in The Hindu this week, “Movements are not radical anymore”.
When you are forced out of conscious defiance of the largest human rights crisis in the world, you have to use every drop of your perspective in the fight to end this crisis of silence. And you end up somewhere in between the borders of PTSD and a wanton need to shake society at its very core. I do this through the stage, by bringing the narratives to life in an effort to humanize women who are situated in a general culture of dehumanization. Every day I am forced to face what man has destroyed in the singular value of each human life ripped apart by rape culture.
I have to experience the narratives as they transpire on stage to shake society’s nucleus which interplays, between the heart and the mind. I do this in hope that ordinary people like us realize that they are capable of extraordinary things as proven by every single rape survivor on this planet who sets the standard of courage which we, as a society, must live up to. This is why I am up at 3AM after rehearsal and writing for a journal to discuss India’s marital rape statute. Now, I know what you are thinking, here is another ‘outsider’ coming to take advantage of India’s rape culture to shine his values in the form of some self-righteous rant. To that I shall reply with a resounding no, since I have been staging plays about rape culture and violence against women in general, I have learned the dirty truth about the neoliberal NGO industrial complexes and I have conceded to the wisdom of ‘her’- stoical narratives of history in learning that nothing gets done until people stand up and do something about it. And when they finally stand up on the streets, these institutions are missing. They don’t provide support. They don’t ensure the safety of protesters. They don’t even rally the cry because they are afraid that structural changes will take the money out of their pockets and put in the pockets of the people bankrupting these very institutions. I am writing this appeal instead in honour of those people, those women, who have defined wisdom in every aspect of developing a society that is courageous enough to speak out in the face of severe and often brutal opposition. There are few better examples of this in the world than the Indian women. They have shown you that can ban a movie but you cannot silence a progressive march. They have fearlessly unveiled the rape culture that exists and how embedded it actually is in society.
The reality is that this common thread of indecency to the dignity of women’s sacrifice across spatial and temporal time is universal in nature. Women raped by police in India. Women raped by police in the United States. Women raped by police in Johannesburg, South Africa. The police going free. Women bearing the burden of the injustice. People gather at the UN and they talk about India and hide what is happening in their own countries. People in the U.S. and Australia comment on India’s rape problem and ignore their own. This is the trick of neoliberal capitalistic societies whose underhanded working is synonymous with misogyny and patriarchy. The problem is that India is becoming more embedded in the path of our collective mistake. So, when one human being sees his fellow human being falling into a hole he can sit back and take a ‘selfie’ or that human being can scream at the top of the lungs.
This is my scream against marital rape, which we all know is wrong. We know that the cultural divestment in women in humanity casts them to the shadows of subservience and it ends up defining them as subservient to men. This act of devaluation, this trait of Social-Darwinism, has been forced on the world through the devaluation of identities by way of cultural education. The very kind that has been forced upon people by colonialist societies and the only way to replace this lesson from contemporary development is through the path of humanization and re-evaluation of the processes through which we devalue women. Here India stands at the crossroads to teach the world via the lesson of the powerful women activists and academics. Here India can save the world by way of reasserting the lessons of it ‘her-storical’ fight for independence from colonialism to break the bonds of neo-colonialism.
We know that these societies, the colonialist, neo-colonialist, neoliberal societies are masters of manipulation and public relations that utilize processes to keep the down trodden believing something is inherently wrong with them and that their destiny has anchored them into misery. We know few people profit from this model and the masses re distracted by this scheme. We know that this destruction can only be untangled by a revolution that interplay’s between the heart and mind that galvanizes action and we know that women in India have defined what action means in the face of water hoses and police batons. In my country, another group has displayed equal action and that is Black women, the African-American, Caribbean, women of the South Asian and Middle Eastern Diaspora. Here these women too have defined what little democracy and freedom we have in our society today. Here they have lifted mankind on their back, because every man’s equality, which is equal to his potential to flourish, is dependent on his equality in resources and values. So, man can only progress as far as women are allowed because any society that comes down on women, will find a measure to make man’s life miserable too. It will make him work exploitative hours, spend all his money on getting by, teach him the pinnacle of his life is marriage, and that women in marriages are there to serve his needs. It becomes a dumb down test driven, thoughtless society based on brutality and inhumanity, and only wakes up when that society starts to burn. When it comes to women’s rights, you can smell the smoke and you better heed the signal and act in the direction of equality and towards dismantling of the institutions because they are as problematic as slavery, and the honour it serves is only anointed in the blood of exploitation.
Any society that lives on exploitation is running in fumes and will eventually break down. So, it’s time for mankind to get on the right side of the fire calling for women’s equality before he’s in the fire of women’s equity. No institution on this earth that is cantered on mastering another human being can hold anything sacred beyond its own entitlement. Marital rape is nothing more than male entitlement. It is the centrifuge in the keg of action that will eventually go off and is actually on its way to going off. So, let’s set it off in a radical non-institutional explosion of humanization that reaches beyond borders in the uprising that women deserve across this planet. The time is now.