By Nitin K V:
I was just catching up on news one recent Sunday morning when I came across an article on Buzzfeed which talked about the public indecency suffered by women every day. This was on the heels of a spate of articles on the Mumbai police raid on hotels, fishing out couples spending some well-deserved private time in a crowded city, thereby preserving our so-called moral traditions. Soon after, there was an article about a random guy in Delhi who tried to forcibly kiss a girl and almost got away with it.
This got me thinking about the dichotomous attitude of police, where on one hand they try to arrest couples who kiss in public and don’t arrest a guy who is forcing a kiss with an unwilling girl, where they criticize women for wearing short clothes, but don’t take action against public flashers. And I realized that it was not limited to the police and that it was a thinking that had seeped deep into the very fabric of our society, from the top most leaders of the country to the common man.
So, I started doing research for quotes which highlighted this two-faced responses and within a couple of minutes, I had filled whole pages with just quotes. Let me share some of the starkly divergent viewpoints on such topics. Even something as clear-cut as rape, is viewed with this lens of ambiguity. On one hand, it is excused as just a mistake or as just boys being naughty by senior political leaders. On the other hand, when it is actually considered as a crime, it is attributed to the victim, demonstrated by quotes such as “The victim is as guilty as her rapists . . .” or statements from people like the Chair of the Chhattisgarh State Women Commission – “Women are ‘equally responsible’ for crimes committed against them” and from the Director General of Police – “If women dress provocatively, then rapes are not in the control of the police“.
We as a society, condemn sex, affection, relationships and everything related to them as dirty, dishonorable. What makes it even worse is the sense of right and wrong and the judgment of people in authority regarding these topics. Let us try to break it down: Consider the act of sex in two scenarios: one where the woman has given consent and in the other where she hasn’t. Which do you think should be ignored and excused away and which should be punished? Unfortunately, our leadership looks the other way for non-consensual sex but comes down hard on consensual cases, which seems highly counter intuitive to you, me or any other rational person. Especially, since the basic underlying act is the same. This clearly tells us that the problem Indian authorities and esteemed leaders have is not with the act itself, but the one trait thing that distinguishes the two scenarios. Consent. From women. Because taking it away is okay, but trusting them with it is not.
It is something we all know, we all have read. But, put together, it identifies the problem at its core, where women being empowered with choice and consent is considered as more threatening than the acts of violence against them. At the end of the day, moral policing is not a fight for our culture or tradition, it’s a fight against women’s empowerment.