petervas

Wanton soup for the Indian Rapist

In Social on October 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm

That was not a typo.  I did not mean the Chinese wonton soup, I meant wanton, as in a cruel or violent action.  As in a wanton behavior leading to rape.  The reason I chose it is because a socio-political administrative system called the Khap Panchayat in Haryana has blamed the consumption of the Chinese fast food chow-mein for the sharp spike in rape incidents in the state.

Chow-mein according to them leads to hormonal imbalance that makes an otherwise normal man, pounce unexpectedly onto an innocent woman.  The other bizarre solution, other than banning such libido inducing fast food, was to reducing the marriageable age for girls, so they are “no longer in circulation” and instantly removed from harms way.  Harm that is, from cavemen neanderthals who until now were hidden from view under large rocks.  They claimed this was done during Mughal rule to save the honor of women.  

How does India deal with rape?

If you are beaten, you’re said to have incited it, if you’re raped you’re said to have invited it. We all know that these things run very deep in the culture  – Gloria Steinem, feminist author

Rape is the only crime where the victim becomes the accused in India





The UN finds that women aged 15 to 44 are more likely to experience rape or domestic violence than they are at risk of developing cancer, being in a traffic accident or contracting malaria – one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

Rape in India

Earlier, if men and women held hands, parents would reprimand them. Now everything is done openly. It’s like an open market with open options – Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, West Bengal

What she meant as a completely misguided solution to rape was that in modern India, social interactions between the opposite gender should stop at once or it could automatically lead to rape!  This is baseless as the wrong inference is from the social sciences which relies heavily on Darwinian biological evolution and not on the psychological evolution of humans.  Mamata Banerjee forgets that there are other species on the planet that are considered much lower down the chain of evolution, that still compete for access to females and not outright rape them at sight!

You have to pinch yourself till you bleed to assure yourself that you are in fact living in the 21st century at the moment.  It is truly bizarre that such unscientific jadi-booti (twigs and herbs) solutions are on offer for one of the fastest rising crime categories in India:  Rape.  Rape clocks at 60 registered incidents per month across our sub-continent.  Let’s get this right:  it’s 60 per month not day, and it’s across the nation and not just in Haryana.  Granted that around 65% to 85% of rape cases go unreported and hence unregistered, this is a phenomenal growth pangs story of urbanizing India.

We have a cute name for sexual harassment.  We call it Eve teasing around here.  It’s colonial christian missionary semantic origin alluding to a temptress seducing the man into doing something he really is not interested in doing!  We are innocent Adams.  The term teasing, trivializes the issue even further, befitting an all-male patriarchal society in search of false reasons for expressions of masculinity.  It’s no longer sexual harassment,  oh no, it’s taboo to use such words, let alone the word rape!  It’s the cutesy-cuddly garden variety eve teasing.  There is a prevalent myth that woman actually enjoy it!  Harmless flirting is OK, they tell us, in fact some women are plain “asking for it” in the way they dress.

Gloria Steinem poses the real issue at the heart of the rape dilemma. “We have to stop talking about who gets raped and talk about who rapes. Somebody is doing these things. And we have to identify who they are.”   Who is that somebody? Why do men rape women? And how do you stop them?

The psychological pain that women experience after such a traumatic experience lasts much longer than the physical trauma itself.  This is considered by psychologists as an introspection response in women to help them focus on the social circumstances leading to rape and how to avoid it in future.  Avoiding it in future probably means leading a life mistrusting all men, strategizing and scheduling simple outings, looking over your shoulder all the time to be aware of stalkers if any.

Who rapes in India?

The rape rates in Haryana have been highlighted as pathetically high, but the states with the highest incidence of rape are Mizoram, Tripura and Assam. The higher rates of rape incidents could be due to the fact that women are quick to report cases of sexual harassment.  In a patriarchal society, greater the social stigma of reporting these cases, lesser the chances of a woman reporting such a case.  Cases go unreported due to the ignominy involved in a public shaming and lessening of chances of finding a prospective groom for the victim.  A case where the victim sadly is worse off than the accused.

Incest rapes account for the highest number of rapes in the country, with most not reported due to the code of silence vieled around honoring family members.

Reasons for rape:

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says rape is the fastest growing crime in India.

There are many contributing reasons for rape.  To say that it is simply a mental disease or a biological preponderance would be a parochial view.  There are broadly three types of sex offenders:

  1. for whom sexual assault is an extension of rage;
  2. those who have a need to control or have power over their victims;
  3. and those who derive sexual pleasure out of inflicting pain on others.

According to the NCRB, the main reasons for rape in India are:

  1. growing urbanisation,
  2. a lack of value-based education,
  3. dwindling healthy social relationships,
  4. easy access to vulgar pornography
  5. a shift from larger families to nuclear ones.

All fine and dandy to me, but without a detailed assessment it’s worth a hill of beans.  Let us then try and understand the reasons why the above reasons are important, before they become a list of meaningless cliches:

Growing Urbanization:

Rape as a direct result of urbanization needs a thorough investigation.  Rapid urbanization, high rates of education, low rates of employment, high cost of living, intense access to media, disproportionate styles of living between the haves and the have-nots, gentrification of communities, non-participation in the growth and success story of the city other than token presence, all lead to a rapid flux and change in the value systems of the youth.  A major attitudinal change had occurred in the minds of Indian youths in the past ten years.    Girls are being employed in big cities.  They have been liberated from their traditional home making chores.  They are out in large numbers and with minimum security.  They are vulnerable.

Value-Based Education:

There has to be gender sensitization across the board and we are not just talking about the school systems.  A positive attitude by law enforcement agencies has encouraged women to come out and file complaints against their attackers.  Likewise a rapid action team that initiates a first response and goes to the victim rather than wait for the victim to come to each of them will help immensely.  The team should represent the court, the police, the hospital, the social worker and other stake holders to listen one time, and one time only everything the victim has to say.  This will help immensely, especially underage child victims, who today, repeat the trauma every step of the proceeding and feel the crime has just been perpetrated ad nauseam.

Empathy is not something that has been taught well in the Indian society, when it comes to showing it to victims of rape.  We, callously switch to a moral high ground and accuse the victim of having “loose morals”.  I quote from another article that said it eloquently:

Whether a woman ‘provoked’ the rape, whether ‘it is a business arrangement gone wrong’, whether ‘she knew her attackers’, whether ‘she is promiscuous’ or whether she is married – the courts do not assume a moral stand for women who have been sexually assaulted. Neither should you.

Healthy Social Relationships:

Here is a fact that our Indian society refuses to accept:  Three-fourths of rapes are committed by a man the woman knows.  We somehow think that all of the rapes are accomplished by strangers.  Why is this important to what we are discussing?  It only goes to show that a vast majority of rapes are occurring due to the man unable to have a healthy social relationship with a woman.  The woman simply becomes a submissive recipient to the man’s anger, frustrations, anxieties and pains.  Sex and anger goes together for the rapist.

Vulgar Pornography:

The Internet has made images of sex widely accessible.  Mobiles with MMS and video cameras have made the taking and distribution of pornography widespread.  It immediately creates a deep chasm between the ones in the clip and the ones vicariously watching it.  They want to bridge the gap instantly and transcend into this heady urban adventure.  Our sexed-up vulgar billboard ads and media are adding to the painful angst of a youth lost in the urban transit.

Nuclear Families:

The Hindu joint family is no more.  The large family living together has given way to the pride of independence:  the nuclear family.  We have moved away from inter-dependence to independence.  The number of males that protect the females if within a joint family, have reduced drastically with the advent of nuclear families.  This poses a threat to the women’s security.  The gauntlet has come down and the rapist attacks this vulnerable spot.

In summary, the NCRB is correct in pointing to the main reasons for rape in India.  I find the problem statement to be fairly accurate.  I wish they are better explained so we can propose meaningful social solutions to a growing ill of epidemic proportions.

How can society prevent rape?

India largely appears to be in a reporting mode.  We will put the focus on rape, the media say.  They have sometimes committed gross blunders like revealing the rape victim’s name and shattering their privacy.  They have sensationalized rape as headline news.  But overall the garish spotlight is necessary.  I hope that this will lead to a better world tomorrow.  To start with, I propose a few directions to be taken that I think may work in the Indian context:

Very low conviction rates of less than 30% of total rape cases, is a disturbing trend and points to the fact that court cases are routinely mishandled and rapists are not prosecuted properly while inadequate proof points are furnished.  Rape is inevitable if the punishment is lax.  If the cost and consequence of rape is fairly low for the rapist, rape will thrive.  As in a war, rape and theft increase to a high degree as the soldier is aware of the fact that nobody will chase him down and put him behind bars.

“Everything we know tells us that they only begin to take it seriously when there are very serious consequences” – Gloria Steinem.

Besharmi Morcha (Shameless Rally) also known as Slutwalk in other countries, was held in Delhi to protest against the daily violence and abuse that the Indian women experience.  This is a good start, but I personally think the media came out in huge numbers to show some interesting color and skin on their channels.  They out numbered the protesters 3 to 1.  This anomaly although funny, was warranted in some ways.  The media spotlight continues unabated.  I liked the Indianization of the term Slutwalk to Besharmi Morcha as it shifted the focus from the clothes to the cause.

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault. – Slutwalk organizers

An overwhelming majority at this parade were men!  Some who came out of curiosity, some to watch the live action tamasha but most to stand in solidarity with our sisters.  We need more of these Besharmi Morchas, in this form or any other form.

The reason being the simple logic of carrots and sticks working to rid our society of rapes and rapists.  If the sticks are the stringent punishments, then the carrots are the men who give a clear message that they will not tolerate other men who have the faintest ill-will towards women.

The Pandavas and the Kauravas along with the entire court of Hastinapur, were witness to Draupadi’s cheer haran (disrobing) when Krishna eventually comes to her rescue.  Today when our sisters cry Krishna, nee begane baro (Krishna, come to my aid quickly), they are talking directly to an immobile court to be like Krishna and save them from agony.

Feedback:

Faiz Usmani I believe it is a cultural issue – and this happens in all societies where we do not teach our sons to respect women … ‘charity begins at home’. Not that our big cities are safe – it is just that men see a lot of equality while growing up. It is shameful that in our country the village panchayats have actually used rape as a means to settle scores.

Least of all the communal riots – where rape is used as a weapon to dishonor the other community – that too when touching a strange women is a sin according to most religions.

Its in our minds and that has to go …. it is up to the mums ad dads to teach their sons and not ogle in front of them when they are young.

And … all you so called men out there … speak up and do not be afraid of receiving a few blows – you can always give them back in the thick of a fight. This is a form of corruption – moral corruption as they call it – its worse than the corruption we talk about often. Sometimes – one has to be a little stubborn to fight menace of this kind!

References:

  1. Why Do Men Rape? An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective
  2. NCRB: Crime against women
  3. Rape, the Most Intimate of Crimes
  4. Chowmein Makes Rapists Out Of Men, Says Khap Panchayat
  5. 60 registered rapes a month in India (NOT day, as in title)
  6. POCSO Act – Providing Child-Friendly Judicial Process
  7. Kafila – Protesting youth at Raisina Hill 23rd Dec 2012
  8. Chemical castration is a weak deterrent to rape
  9. The Rapist in the mirror – Praveen Swami

 

 
 

 

The New Delhi Gang-Rape and Other Gender Issues
chemcast indianfilms hijra aamir
Chemical Castration Do Indian films promote sexual harrasment? The Hijras of India Aamir Khan and the girl child

 
 

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