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Not Being A Rapist Is Not Enough

Posted: January 16, 2013

Blogger Arundhati Venkatesh describes herself as a kid-lit enthusiast, an observer of life and people, a feminist, a minimalist and a compulsive maker of lists! An engineer by degree, and an IT professional in her previous life, she is now an aspiring writer. Arundhati works for an NGO.

We’ve heard politicians tell us a woman who has been raped is better off dead. As if that wasn’t enough, we had a woman scientist say she shouldn’t have resisted rape. So effectively, women are being told what to do when being raped – ‘submit, don’t protest’ – and that life is not worth living after. And of course, we’ve always been told how to dress, talk, laugh (or not).

That’s not all. The reaction from the common man is telling. He condemns rape and expresses solidarity with women. He asks us to look at this as an isolated incident – “it is not ‘some men’, just these six rapists, no one else”. He tells us not to get “irrational”, to control our anger – “men are holding candles and protesting, men are angry too. So women, don’t get any angrier.” So now we have men getting defensive and telling us how angry we can get.

Yes, we are angry. We are angry because we see ourselves in her. It is not just one woman’s story. Or that of six men. We see how the politicians, the police, the judiciary, the media, the movie industry, the man on the street, the woman… all contribute to the drama that leads to this. Rape does not occur in a vacuum. To believe that would be fooling ourselves and absolving ourselves of all responsibility.

Separating rape from all other injustice against women really angers me – people occupying moral high ground because they wouldn’t rape anyone. Get off that pedestal you’ve put yourself on.

It’s not just those six criminals who are responsible. It is also those who walked away. And the police personnel. And the politicians who wait for the noise to die down. And it is not just this one rape, but every single rape.

And it is not just rape. It is every act of abuse. It is every disrespectful and stereotypical statement uttered. It is every opinion and judgment – even those left unsaid.

We are all aiders and abettors, or have been at some point. Let’s accept it and do something about it at least now.

People, please stop telling women what to do. Think about what you (men and women) need to do.


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  1. Well said!! Everyone starting from media to each adult member of society is responsible for rapes. The media splashes the sleazy details of stars and glorifies item songs. It gives huge publicity to reality dramas and dance shows. But it hardly spares more than a few columns to highlight the achievement of women scientists, doctors,engineers or businesswomen.
    The society shuns rape victims, harasses widows, divorcees and single women and then feigns horror when a brutal rape occurs in a familiar environ!!!

  2. Thank you. I’m tired of men thinking that they’re in the clear simply because they’ve not raped. We’re angry. We’re very very angry. And no one has a right to tell us not to be angry.

  3. Rape is an expression of violent protest against the right of a woman to exist independently. Society is wired to buy into the narrative of a dependent woman, one who is married, looks after her husband and children, works but only when she gets the man’s mandate to do so. This is especially pernicious in India where parents often declare proudly that their engineer daughter has been ‘allowed’ to work by her future husband and in-laws. How to change this? There are no easy answers but perhaps a good modern education and rapid urbanisation and industrialisation are moves in the right direction.

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