Republic nation of rape

At an outdoor event a few years ago, a group of youngsters was promoting awareness of the rising number of sex crimes in India. They were strongly urging those nearby to just say “NO” to rape. The first thing I wondered was whether anyone had walked up to them and nervously insisted on saying “YES” instead.

The slogan makes no sense to me. The average Indian must be aware that rape is a heinous act. But sometimes, knowledge isn’t even three-quarters the battle won. People know for a fact that junk food is bad for health. That doesn’t stop them from clogging their arteries.

The problem is that many Indians don’t understand what rape is. And it causes them to either subliminally encourage it or passively ignore it.

Rape, at least in India, is a reiteration of gender politics. It stems from the sexual/social frustrations of a patriarchal society. Along with it, archaic power trips that walk the line between misogyny and pseudo-science. In rural and urban communities, young men are conditioned to exercise control over a woman’s physicality. They see evidence of it, all around them.

From micro-managing how women explore their sexuality to ostracizing them during menstrual cycles. Dictating how many children they ought to give birth to. And ignoring just how poor the state of public governance is, as far as health and safety measures are concerned. Even in educated, socially liberal and supportive Indian families, sinister undertones of gender inequality creep in. Whether restricting education, asking for dowries, engaging in marital rape or following the dynamics of breadwinner vs homemaker.

In 2013, a friend had given me the opportunity to co-create a documentary pitch on India’s rape culture. We wanted to focus on the post-verdict scenario of the Soni Sori case, with references to the military-assisted rapes in Kashmir and the Vachathi gang rape incident. We had tried to research as much as we could, on the subject matter. While I had known, prior to that, there existed a deep-rooted national disrespect towards women, I was startled at how structured the culture of rape has been.

These are some of the prominent types of rape in India.

  • Marital rape that goes unnoticed in urban and rural India and still remains a non-criminal offense according to the Indian Penal Code
  • Systematic rape as a form of social dominance against “unwanted” ethnic communities and other minorities
  • Gang rape perpetrated out of sexual frustration and social anxiety of Indian males
  • State/military rape carried out by state officials and army officials in conflict-stricken areas
  • Corrective rape committed in communities to enforce gender stereotypes (Also, well-documented in South Africa)

Unfortunately, the average Indian refuses to discuss rape as an issue unless a TV news channel broadcasts an over-produced montage of some high profile incident. Even then, it would turn from being a watercooler conversation to a repugnant meme that someone gregariously forwards to a WhatsApp group.

The only way to fight it is to formalize the need for awareness. Once again, the hope for humanity rests inside the tiny, unkempt heads of the children. We need to educate them that rape culture has been intricately woven into the fabric of our country’s history. Especially, before post-pubescence takes over and they are already on their way towards becoming monsters themselves. Not just rapists, stalkers, psychopaths, and misogynists, but the sort of Indian who chooses to ignore just how unsafe this country is for women.

Saying “no” to rape is not going to change anything. Instead, we must dig deeper to remove the cancerous growth of patriarchal-fueled sexual violence. Because unless there is a significant unlearning curve, the rate of gender-based crimes will continue to be on the rise.

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 neighbors and the military coup”;
the great Indian rape tradition
proudly continues.

(Images: Pixabay)

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50 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

  6. Your post speaks for multiple mute which dare not open for some fear or inhibition .A lot has been said and will continue to be said it is we the people who have to rise have the courage to avert such criminal behaviour and openly ,collectively support the victims if we want to cleanse the society.Your post will resonate for long but how long and for how many .Thanks for taking up this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The stigma of discussion is really disheartening at times. Even when it happens, it is filtered through a mess of quasi-liberal gibberish that goes against the interests of the victims.

      Thank you for leaving your footprints, Veena.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t bear to “like” this post, Christy.
    To me, rape is not only about the final act of “penetration”. Every Indian woman has been raped, as in “been violated” multiple times through her life – in the bus, on trains, on busy roads, sometimes at home, in school, at the work place. Often a stare, a whistle, profanity, pinch, and grope can hurt as much as a penis in a reluctant vagina. So much so that most Indian women don’t trust the male gender in its entirety. Sad state of being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Often a stare, a whistle, profanity, pinch, and grope can hurt as much as a penis in a reluctant vagina” – precisely LG. Only by talking about how such actions turn into gateways to something much worse can help. But there is so much of social stigma behind it.

      For instance, until they turn the page on marital rape, people should just refuse to vote.

      Like

  8. This article you’ve linked to http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/25/what-s-really-behind-india-s-rape-crisis.html – I thought it was really illuminating until I realised the tiresome repetition of “Indian scriptures” as the source of all evil. Seems to me that the writer is propagating one particular agenda rather than approaching the problem of rape from all angles – not just the religious one. Love your blog post though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is repetitive to blame the scriptures, I agree with that. But I think the people (for instance, the politicians) who say make offensively sexist suggestions often end up quoting them too. But yes, the problem goes beyond religion for sure.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Like

  9. Great write up Christy. Let me add my share of cheer. India is a hopeless case. It is a sexually and emotionally repressed society for both men and women with patriarchy in dollops. Add to it a broken redressal system, stigma of separation/reaching out for help, shrill knee-jerk feminism,(see very very few people who actually speak about intersectionality in Indian feminism), swaggering moralistic politicians and patriarchs and princess daughters, and you have a perfect dystopian society. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks bud!

      Great point about the broken redressal system. It causes a lot of the stigma. As well as knee-jerk feminism too. I suppose (and I dearly hope), that it is the case of a few bad apples and intersectionality means more than hashtags on Twitter!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You nailed it completely. Well written post. I have seen many of my so called educated friends trying to be modern and liberal with their girlfriends, but as soon as they marry the entire behavior changes, everything becomes traditional and cultural for the women. The funny thing is in India cow and Goddesses get respected for being woman, but not the actual ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Perfect title for the country! Not that rape doesn’t happen in other places but they don’t boast so much about the safely guarded culture and traditions as India does. And what does that culture signify? The A to Z of how a woman should live! What about men? They are to judge and monitor women and punish those who don’t fit in. I am so glad this piece has come from a man of this republic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. I understand that history has its share of unlearnings but as you said – to boast about archaic and insensitive sections of our roots is extremely regressive.

      I’m not so sure I have escaped the patriarchal mindset, N. The way I still take my mum for granted is one of the reasons. At times, I’ve caught myself saying sexist stuff. My hope solely rests in the hearts and lives of the generations to come.

      Thank you, N, for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

  12. Nailed it right. Nicely written.
    The root is many set of parent living, children follow the steps of their parents. when a father is abusing the mother of the son, the son is trained to do so and if she is a mother of a daughter she is teaching her to digest the indigestible abuse. Rape is the effect of disrespect, ignorance of existence and weakened roots of the dignity of a woman (which is decided upon her virginity, and how the society looks upon her). Only respect for women and dignity irrespective of a woman’s sexual experience is the way towards a rape free world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad we stumbled upon each other’s blog today. I hear you loud and clear on this. “The effect of disrespect” is a great way of putting it. Because no society that aspires to be respectful and courteous can treat any gender with such brutish biases.

      Like

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