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Not Being A Rapist Is Not Enough

Serious about ending rape in India? Don't feel smug that you are not a rapist. Rape culture arises from how society views the role of women

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.

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

 

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