27 November, 2019; I couldn’t make myself read any news that day. I still haven’t gone through the news details of the brutal gang-rape and murder of Priyanka Reddy. Its not just her but countless other daughters of India..
I’m not writing this blog to express pain or state the crime statistics indicating the plight of women world over. I’m writing this blog for two reasons.
- To share personal & researched insights on the possible solutions to this plight.
- Also, public outbursts are sensitive and so to align us with the right mindset and channel this mental energy in the best possible way.
Here’s a few things that I feel anyone capable of reading this should know:
Why do rapists rape?
There is a simple and surprisingly durable myth about what causes men to rape women. It goes like this: If a man is too horny, from sexual deprivation or from being constitutionally oversexed, he will lose control in the presence of an unguarded woman.[words://aeon.co/essays/until-we-treat-rapists-as-ordinary-criminals-we-wont-stop-them]
The first step to solve any problem is understanding its actual cause. I don’t think it is lust that causes rapes. Lust is normal. It is not evil but a primal human feeling. On the contrary, humanity and a healthy outlook towards women are traits not normally present in everyone. Rapists don’t rape because they are deprived of sex but because of their corrupt mentality and upbringing. Madhumita Pandey interviewed 100 rape convicts in Tihar jail and found that most of these men had a skewed outlook towards women and consent. This corrupt mentality and thought process is the common denominator.
What we need is a culture-revolution where it is embedded deep into the psyche of every human that challenging the modesty of a woman is the worst thing to do. This can be done by culture education in societies, starting from families and schools right from a young age.
- Sex, yet another normal activity that is omnipresent yet nobody wants to talk about it. Sex education is necessary but it is not part of the curriculum. Children are curious and they are anyhow going to find out about it but now the sources are unhealthy. Instead of finding answers to their questions from unhealthy sources on the internet, it is better that it comes from a dedicated curriculum or a family member.
- Some movies and recent regional web series are putting the wrong kind of ideas in people’s minds. Such bad-art depicts a skewed version of society in many ways by glorifying toxic masculinity and miseducating on consent. Recently, a friend shared that almost everyone including students, auto-drivers, bus-drivers, etc are watching these filthy adult web-series.We cannot glorify ‘Arjun Reddy’ and look down on domestic violence at the same time. #ParentingTip: Limiting or controlling your kid’s internet activity or watch time is not the solution here. Educate them on the difference between right and wrong and they will be fine.
- Along with candle marches, we need to teach children about ‘safe touch’ and teens about consent.
Rape aftermath and what scares me?
1. Men vs Women culture: In this public outrage, what scares me is gender crimes becoming a ‘Men v/s Women’ thing when it actually should be ‘Us v/s the Predatory culture’. I hope everyone gets this because, in an aftermath like this, a lot of people are going to express their outrage. This outrage is necessary, however, if we all are not aligned on the factor that this is not a battle of sexes, we will slowly be breeding a ‘Men v/s Women’ culture. The future generation will be witnessing a behavioral culture that is wrong and toxic in all means. I cannot imagine anything worse than men and women not being able to coexist together.
2. Women disempowerment: A top-down approach to prevent rapes will actually depower women in the long term. How? This can be best explained by an example that I got from Captain Raghu Raman’s talk. A woman employee was gang-raped in a moving car outside the infamous Sahara mall, Gurgaon way before Nirbhaya happened. This incident triggered solutions from the establishment like:
Women employees have to be driven back home by the associated firms.
There is a twist to this though. In Captain Raghu Raman’s words:
“Whoever gave this diktat is obviously thinking he/she did a great job. [However], if a firm or organization has to drop one certain set of employees back home, in essence this one rule has created an environment where the business decision makers will say ‘Dont hire women’ because if you hire women the cost structure goes up”Keynote Address by Shri Raghu Raman @ India Security Conclave 2015
[ Link: Start video at 22:30 minutes ]
Those women who could have been self-sufficient and stand at par with their male counterparts will suddenly be deprived of an equal opportunity. There is more to this and best explained in this video by Captain Raghu Raman. [ Link: Start video at 22:30 minutes ]
The problem with Top-down approaches to rape prevention is that it focuses more on controlling rape incidents rather than preventing them. Employing more people in the service sector and massive demand for security infrastructure actually skews the ‘Production: Service’ ratio of the nation while still not being able to ‘control’ such situations.
What I believe we need is a bottom-up approach to rape prevention coming from the smaller units of society. When we have totally unnecessary ‘Bajrang dals’, why can’t we have people coming together in incident prone places like Sahara Mall comprising of the social units there? Social units like the mall employees, rickshaw pullers, local people, etc. The public should know that there are responsible people willing to stand up in such situations. We need a society that is completely intolerant of any crime related to gender. We can’t have a rape-intolerant culture that is tolerant of other crimes towards women.
But for this to happen there has to be a proper understanding regarding the course of action in different situations. This is where education and awareness come into play. We don’ t need a ‘Bajrang dal’ franchise, we need responsible men and women coming together that know when and how to intervene. Also, people need to be made aware of what to believe, many false accusations have surfaced in recent times that threaten the credibility of the actual victims of gender crimes. This has also driven several innocent men of the country into suicides, being extorted for money and ruining their careers, stories of which are often unheard of.
3. Yet another thing that scares me. An example of this is the ‘Rohtak sisters’;
In the Nirbhaya rape aftermath in 2014, a video clip of ‘Rohtak sisters’ beating up 3 men in a moving bus on account of eve-teasing surfaced.
The media went haywire.
They nicknamed the girls ‘Bravehearts’ and were interviewed on almost all the media channels. Further, Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister of Haryana also announced a cash prize of Rs 31,000 to each of the two sisters on Republic Day as an appreciation for their ‘act of bravery’.
Not one person deemed it necessary to check into their story.
Not one person intervened the girls during their brutal assault over the 19 year olds.
** Meanwhile, what happened to the men? **
** The three men were charged under Section 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage woman’s modesty) and Section 323 (voluntary causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. **
Another assault video surfaced (different men).
** 4 December 2014, a video had started going viral via media, showing the accused of the bus incident (on 2 December), being beaten by his father as he asks them to apologise to the girls **
People from the 1st video started to come forward to testify. They claimed that the whole quarrel was about the old woman’s seat being occupied by the girls, rather than teasing. The girls failed the polygraph test while the accused passed it.
More men came forward revealing that the girls actually extorted money from them to have the charges withdrawn. Considering these contradictory versions of the incidents being reported, the Haryana government decided to hold back the award that was announced for the girls’ bravery.
**Two of these boys, Kuldeep and Mohit, were reportedly returning on this bus after an army recruitment exam. Due to the criminal charges their dream to join the forces was crushed. Not to mention, even non-government workplaces refused to hire them.**
** Finally, the court acquited the men but their struggles had just started. Only, a few media channels covered their innocence. Their lives? Ruined. **
Men are also on the receiving side of gender crimes for issues other than false allegations like sexual assaults, sexism and even domestic violence. Again, its not a battle of sexes, its a battle to end this predatory culture. #himToo
Men are slowly growing resentful and that is not a good sign. Men are victims of this predatory culture too, even dogs are not spared!Video by ‘The Logical Indian’: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlgLSz5LME0
We don’t need a media trial or a public trial. We need responsible men and women to be aware and act against the predatory culture.
Always ask this to yourself: What if one of the rape victims was my sister or mother?
But also, stop to think: What if one of the victims of false rape/dowry/whatever allegations was your father or brother?
4. Rape victim ordeal:
There is a verse in the Vedas-
A woman is not defiled by having a lover.
“Whether she has strayed on her own or been expelled, or have suffered rape, or been kidnapped by robbers, a woman must never be abandoned; to forsake her is not prescribed [by the sacred law]. Let him [her husband] wait until the time of her menstruation, by her temporary impurity she becomes pure. (2-3 Vasistha 28:1-3) “
In India, there is a lot of stigma associated with rape victims and therefore victims go through a lot of psychological trauma. Some rape victims are even discouraged by their own families to report against rape as it may bring shame to the families. The society’s outlook towards raped women as that of shame and impurity is what scares me. If someone has to feel shame then it is the whole society in which such a rapist was bred.
This stigmatized outlook of society is what needs to be changed. Again, such value education should begin at an early age in schools. In India, even the rape victims themselves believe to be impure. If leaders of the nation, advocate this type of outlook, I believe a lot can change.
Punishing the rapists alone does not end the victim’s ordeal. A law to provide free psychological counseling should be implemented to help victims deal with trauma.
Legalizing sex work: I don’t know how much legalizing sex can prove as a deterrent to rapes.
Legalizing sex- work can solve a host of other problems:
- Prostitution is illegal and it is accompanied by other illegal activities such as human trafficking, forced prostitution (Read: rapes for eternity), minor prostitution, etc. These can be supervised by legalizing prostitution.
- Prostitutes have no access to proper healthcare facilities and the transmission of STDs and other diseases in this community is rampant. Legalizing prostitution will provide them access to healthcare, hygiene, and safe-sex facilities.
- Prostitution is legal in Germany and sex workers live with dignity as any other citizen. They are taxpayers, their children go to better schools and an entire generation is uplifted along with it. Comparatively, sex workers in India live in the worst of conditions, have no access to government facilities, their children most probably end up in prostitution or on the streets.
On a final note, this war against predatory culture is every man and woman’s war. Each of us should be mentally prepared to deal with such a situation. We need to equip our women with the capability to be prepared to act against such threats. Every person has to be responsible within his surroundings to keep it a safe place for women, may it be street or an office.
Please let me know your views and possible solutions in the comments.