My Son would Never Rape a Woman

Epiphany in the Cacophony

sad-alone-cute-girl-waiting-someone-window My son would never rape a woman. It is brutal, disgusting and immoral. He simply isn’t capable of such a thing. She has obviously enticed him. __________________________________________________________

She was at the club when it happened. Short black dress, tall black drink. She stood in the middle of the dance floor, moved her hips slowly. She made eye contact with him. She even smiled. He walked up to her and asked her to meet him at his car. When she declined, he grabbed her arm.
And what a scene she created! She fought, screamed and kicked. You want this, he told her as he pulled her out of the club. NO, she screamed, yelling as he dragged her to his car. You don’t know what you want, you’re drunk.

She sat alone in the parking lot a few hours later. Disgusting girl, she reeked of smoke and alcohol. What…

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The price of being a woman in India!

Its a shame really, that the first blogpost I write while in India is this. I would love to write about how impressed I am with India, but I feel incapable of that at the moment.

Recently I posted an article from CNN (read it here) to my fb wall. I posted it because the experiences of this American tourist never struck me to be propaganda. They instead felt absolutely true, because a lot of what she experienced in India, has been my experience as well. The difference is, I am Indian. I have grown up in India, experiencing sexual harassment on the streets, in the bus, in the metro, everywhere. Do I have PTSD? no! but thats because if you are an Indian woman, this is such a part of your life that after the first couple of inappropriate brushes, pinches and gropings, you stop talking about it. You learn to live with it. I learnt at 13, that you come home, take a shower and try to forget the feeling of being dirty. You turn away when you see men making lewd gestures. You put up your arms everytime you get into or out of a crowded train or metro, so that no one can touch your chest.

Harassment or eve teasing is (almost) an accepted part of life- a coping mechanism. But this acceptance discourages any kind of open discussion about the problem as “it happens to everyone” or “what to do? this is India. This is how it is here. No point in talking about it”.

Is this problem unique to India? No. Is the magnitude of the problem unique? Probably. Are all Indian men lechers? No. But this is still a problem, because most are. So to me, the fact that the first article was written by a white american tourist, didn’t matter. What mattered was that for once, we could read about the experiences of this one woman and at least start a discussion.

Shouldn’t we talk about the fact that we, the women of India are afraid of its men? What brings shame on our country is not propaganda created by a white american tourist, but the fact that every day there are new reports of sexual harassment and gang rape. Thousands others are not even reported. What brings shame is the true state of our society where women are afraid of men, irrespective of whether they are independent working women living in the nation’s capital or poor women living in the rural areas.

Lakshmi Chaudhry writes (read her brilliant full article here)  “We all live with a debilitating sense of being under constant siege, an ever-present anxiety that a lewd comment or casual grope may lead to a full-on assault; the nagging worry that this auto or cab or bus driver may turn out to be the wrong one; the paranoia triggered by a slowly circling car filled with men. This, this is the price of being a woman in India. And it is paid by all of us, irrespective of colour, caste or class.”

Isn’t this price too high?

Rape and women in India

The gang rape of a young para-medical student in Delhi a few days ago has the country up in arms. Actually I should say that reports in the media point to the fact that the country is up in arms, and I would believe that it were true, based on the unending fb posts and sms messages that have been passing around.  I was amazed at how many of the posts were about Delhi as a city and its issues than about the bigger issue of how women are treated in our society. Having lived in both Mumbai and Delhi, I can vouch for a fact that as a young, single, independent woman, you do feel more confident in Mumbai as opposed to Delhi. But, such comparisons to me are one of the reasons why we are not able to have a more fruitful conversation as a nation about crimes committed against women. Delhi is still India, and its not like rapes don’t happen in Mumbai! The bottom line is that whether its Delhi, Mumbai, Jalandhar, Shillong, Chennai, Chandigarh or Jaipur, India’s cities and indeed India as a country has one of the worst rates of crimes against women in the world. Secondly, while I would love to believe that this reawakening of the masses is going to change the way we view women in our society, I am very skeptical. We are all more than aware of the fickle nature of media attention, what happens once a new story comes along? How many of us are going to be still talking about this issue? To me, it seems that very little of the conversation is about the meta issue here– how we view women in our society? how to most men, women are just objects for sex? This is going to offend a lot of people, but thats it, isn’t it? If you are a woman in India, you’ve in all probability been teased, heckled and groped at least once in your life….my guess is more than once. If this does not point to the fact that women are seen as objects for sex, then I don’t know what does.

The meta issue here is women and their treatment in society. This post by Vivek Kaul sums it up beautifully. The death penalty for rape in my opinion is not the solution. It might assuage our hunger for revenge at the moment, but in the long run I suspect it will only serve as a distraction. Its not just about how we punish people who commit such crimes, its about how to prevent them. And yes, a harsher, more swift punishment will induce some fear, but it will not change how we as a society view women……devalue women. Yes, women in India today are charting new territories, they are pilots and CEO’s, they are architects and leaders, we’ve even had a female president. At the same time, female foeticide goes on unchecked, to the extent that we have the worst male:female sex ratio since independence. There is legislation in place to punish doctors as well as parents that are found guilty of sex selective abortions, but what about implementation? Not a single doctor has been found guilty under this law. However, the male:female sex ratio continues to plummet. For all our talk of how important women our to our society, we worship them as goddesses after all, if we don’t as a society start acknowledging that we need to change our views, really change the way we look at women, then this is just going to go on.