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As women, we thought we’d heard it all. Pretty much every insult, point of view, stereotypical opinion, judgment call – all of it. And then we hear of a concept called ‘rape-proofing’ our bodies.
Comments by a prominent member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a leader in the Western Maharashtra state as well as a member of State Women’s Commission created a storm, sparking rage among women all across the nation. Asha Mirje asked, what was the need for the Delhi brave heart, of the December 16 gang rape to go for a movie at 11 at night. She also questioned the prudence of the Mumbai Shakti Mill gang rape survivor to go to such a deserted place at 6 pm.
What bothers me is – what truly seems to be worse? The alarming rate at which such cases are increasing or the need to constantly rationalize such incidents and portray the victim as the culprit?
She further went on to say that the root cause of such incidents is the fact that the body language of women is suggestive and we should all work on this to prevent rape and thus make our bodies ‘rape-proof’. Women in the past have also expressed extremely ridiculous comments and points of view on rape but this certainly takes the cake.
As if the comments are not idiotic enough, wonder of wonders, they happen to come from a woman. A woman, whom we expect, solely based on her gender, would be compassionate and empathetic. A lady, who is a representative for women across the nation, deigned to voice her ridiculous opinion on a crime so horrific that I am sure women all around were equally outraged. More so, when we think that the women who have been victims of this crime, who are living through it and trying to rebuild their lives – had to read such callous comments.
What blew my mind more than anything about her regressive views was the suggestion about ‘rape-proofing’ bodies as a solution! Rather than creating a society where each individual has the right to live a life of dignity and the freedom to do as they please, without harming another, we must educate our women about making their bodies ‘rape-proof’!
Apparently a rape-proof body is one with crossed arms, legs and fingers. No wonder, and even men agree on this, that a woman is another woman’s worst enemy. The lessons sons receive from their mothers pave the way for their adult behavior towards women.
Could it be that these women feel a deep unconscious sense of resentment that their own freedom was curbed at a time when they craved for the same or that similar choices were not available in their time?
She goes on to mention that there are 3 factors responsible for rape – a woman’s dress, her behavior and her presence at inappropriate places. What makes me wonder is that these women who are educated and lead a professional or political life have such medieval views on the subject. Does it really stem from narrow mindedness or prejudice? Or is there another reason to it? Could it be that these women feel a deep unconscious sense of resentment that their own freedom was curbed at a time when they craved for the same or that similar choices were not available in their time? For women who harbor such views in today’s time, perhaps they feel bound by various restrictions owing to family, which I empathize with, but does that justify sublimating one’s jealousy and consequently blaming those who have suffered?
I have been saddened to hear women time and time again pass insulting comments on how a woman is dressed, venom dripping from their tone. Yes, we as women do pass comments as we have a natural tendency to observe and form opinions, but the sad truth of the matter is when these comments are not meant in passing but as character attacks on the girl in question.
I once overheard two girls at a coffee shop discuss another girl, physically absent, about how she dresses in a manner that is meant to keep boys hovering around her and to make herself appear more attractive. So? Doesn’t each woman have the right to feel good about herself? If that can be accomplished with a stroke of mascara and a summer dress, are we supposed to get nasty about it?
The ‘rape-proof’ comments happen to be from a woman who is also a gynaecologist. An individual who is responsible for a woman’s physiological well being and surely having been trained to safeguard a woman’s mental health, proposed points of view which honestly made me want to cross my legs as I cringed!
We live in a society which proposes various guidelines to women on how we should eat, breathe, dress, behave but refuses to move ahead and educate men on how to treat women.
Comments by women ‘representatives/leaders’ on rape in the past:
2009: If the girls feel they were not doing anything wrong, why are they afraid to come forward and give a statement?
– NCW member Nirmala Venkatesh, after an attack by 40 Sri Ram Sena men on eight women in a Mangalore bar
2012: If a group of boys eve-teases you by calling you sexy, you should not get provoked, and instead, take it positively
– Mamta Sharma, then NCW chairperson
2012: Be comfortable, but be careful about how you dress. Aping the west blindly is eroding our culture and causing such crimes to happen
– Mamta Sharma, then NCW chairperson
2012: After a 17-year-old girl was molested by a gang outside a Guwahati pub, NCW member Alka Lamba had revealed her name to the media
Perhaps we need to educate and sensitize the women first, if we dare to hope that men ought to do the same. It’s never us against them; we’re all in this together.
Pic credit: Alan (Used under a Creative Commons license)
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