Republic state of rape

Stripped and torn,
a damsel unlearns.
Her thighs leak crimson
and her eyes – salt and dirt,
lorded over by wolves,
with tunnel vision, taking turns.
They whistle for the rats
to come and get their fingers greasy too,
they advertise – “bring your friends,
the neighbours and the military coup”;
the great Indian rape tradition
proudly continues.

Serpent Crested Eagle, Kumily

Serpent Crested Eagle

At an outdoor event earlier this year, I walked past a group of young bright-eyed volunteers, with matching bandannas to boot. They were promoting awareness on the rising number of sex crimes in the country.  They urged the people who walked past them to just say no to rape.

I asked one of the volunteers to explain their reasoning to which I was told that I had a voice that needed to be heard. They asked me if I wanted to buy a T-shirt.

I didn’t get it. Did they expect anyone to say “sorry but I can’t say no to rape”? I don’t think this campaign slogan has had any impact on raising the level of social awareness on sex crimes. Not in my country. Nope.

Of course, we will say “no” to rape. That’s neither the problem nor the solution. What matters more is our willingness to look at our own lives and say “yes” to gender equality.

Rape, at least in India, stems from sexual / social frustration at an individual level and reiteration of gender politics at a communal / national level. Given how patriarchal most Indian societies are, many young men are conditioned to believe that men are entitled to more power than women. They see evidences of how other men, elders or peers, act on it. Some power-mongers physically impose their will. Others rely on chauvinistic verbal tirades. Most however do it in ways that are largely accepted by Indian society such as restricting education, asking for dowries, engaging in marital rape and following the archaic dynamics of breadwinner vs homemaker.

Unless there is a significant change in this regressive and spiteful learning curve, the rate of gender-based crimes will be on the rise. It is also a personal opinion of mine that the line between blatant sexism and an act of rape is a thin one. Here is a list of things that we can say NO to instead:

  • Fallacies in arranged marriages that turn women into meat-market bulletin updates
  • The dowry system
  • Opinions that breadwinners are post-colonial slave owners
  • Any political party’s propaganda until they talk about criminalizing marital rape
  • Sexist jokes that objectify women based on appearances and classes
  • Robin Thicke and Honey Singh
Crested Serpent Eagle

Crested Serpent Eagle

In 2013, I was roped in to work on a documentary on India’s rape culture. We were going to document the post-verdict scenario of the Soni Sori case while providing information on military-assisted rapes in Kashmir and the Vachathi gang rape incident. I dropped out of the project after the pre-production pitch. The research we did though was a stark reminder on just how systematic the culture of rape is in my country. These are some of the prominent types of rape in India.

  • Marital rapes that go unnoticed in urban and rural India and still remains a non-criminal offence according to the Indian Penal Code
  • Systematic rapes as a form of social dominance against “unwanted” ethnic communities and other minorities
  • Gang rapes perpetrated out of sexual frustration of Indian males
  • State/Military rapes carried out by state officials and army officials in conflict-stricken areas
  • Corrective rapes committed in communities to enforce gender stereotypes (It was impossible to curate India-specific research material on this, but we all know it happens)

The average Indian man doesn’t discuss this issue as much as he should. He is as shocked at rape cases documented by his favourite news channel as he is apathetic towards the gender biases that he is privy to. It is my opinion that marriages fall apart because of this apathy. More importantly, society will too if we don’t take a serious look at what we say and the way we think and behave.

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31 comments

  1. Some victims feel men have become even more temerarious with the recent reportage of rape. That none of the recent convictions have served as a deterrent. How can they when rape-perpetrating juveniles are let off and offered a college degree in return for their crime? The police are only thoroughly bungling the incident in Bangalore offering even more encouragement to next time offenders that they can do as they will without fear.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s worse than remaining a mute spectator… as you said, the system is encouraging it. It’s not like we can say “what we can expect from a government that decriminalizes marital rape”.

      We, as Indian citizens, deserve a whole lot effing more than this nonsense.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i was really shocked when the first stories about rapes in india were finding their way into the news over here… and i do hope that the government will deal with this in a non-compromise way… this is very well written

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The other day I read a blog about issues in India, which was nothing but a stupid rant. Reading your blog makes sense, because the points are so well put and issue is addressed logically.
    However, I don’t agree with calling a country or state as state of rape or rape capital as we had heard it earlier. A group of ill-minded and desperate people can never have enough power to change the state in their favor. Instead we should be focusing on awareness and the government needs to improvise their stupid illogical laws.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The fact that marital rape is legal and not a criminal act makes me believe we are a misogynistic and patriarchal nation. That’s just one facet of the problem too. Unreported India has so many more sub-textual histories attached to it that I can’t look at India as a country that is even trying to bring about gender equality in any which way. These are my personal views and I do appreciate the hope that lingers in you, K.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah true jane, as I had replied to a comment by geokalpataru, it just bothers me that it is systematic and deep-rooted as a part of the fabric of our culture, which we, as Indians, seem to hold on to as a twisted homage or perhaps a sick commitment. But yeah the collective consciousness is misogynistic at large.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. unfortunately this ‘thing’ happens everywhere. it might be true that India might have a problem with that, as the State, as you claim, doesn’t provide any protection but instead closes its eye in what is happening. but lets not be hypocrites here..women all over the world are being raped and physically(and mentally) abused, unfortunately..whether they report this behavior or not is another matter. even in ‘civilized’ London where i spent 6.5 years it saddened me watching the news, reading the newspapers, taking the tube and witnessing harassment, attempts of rape and physical abuse toward women(i studied psychology so we had access to information like this). i think and i agree with what you say, it is the fact that we men, grow up feeling superior and with a slight misogynistic behavior..this is the society we live in (not only in India but in the whole world women are being advertised as a product, take a good look at the media)..it is up to the family first and foremost to blame if a man thinks and feels like that..
    this was a very informative and useful post, and coming from a man it adds up more value..and gives me hope

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfectly encapsulated, dear friend. I do agree that it is a global issue. If I may add something, I think th it is more systematic and state-sponsored in third world / developing nations which makes its citizens seem a bit more apathetic. Thank you again for the in depth comment, bud, I would love to read a post by you on this!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “…look at our own lives and say “yes” to gender equality.” This is a wonderful outlook, but even in America, the Patriarchal society still rules with an iron fist. Too many wish to remain uninvolved and look the other way; it’s how the ones with power keep their power. And the ones with power (here) are still unequivocally male. Our species needs a serious paradigm shift.

    Liked by 1 person

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