Anupama writes a letter to her 18-years old daughter. Read what she has to say.
Men who never bothered about the crimes against women are now so worried about the ‘unfairness of the law’ that they refuse to see the inherent male bias even now.
A recent discussion with an acquaintance on how men are being falsely implicated in fake rape cases led me to wonder how big really the problem of false rape cases is. And, how really do the arguments of the law favouring women hold up against the real cases of sexual abuse?
First, let’s get the facts out of the way.
As per a 2014 report published by the Delhi Commission of Women, over 50% of the cases reported were false. (Please note the usage of the word ‘reported’.)
Furthermore, as per a BBC article ‘about 98% of the cases registered are not genuine’. (Again, note the usage of the word ‘registered’.)
Both articles talk of cases that have been ‘reported’, or ‘registered’. So it wouldn’t be a stretch of imagination to put out two observations here –
It is surprising to note the sudden attention on false cases, when the real victims are still suffering.
A majority of sexual assault cases go unreported. Among those that are reported, a majority are either withdrawn (case in point, being the recent accusation against the CJI) or labelled ‘false’ on account of several reasons that are conveniently left out of such reports.
The issue at heart – whether it be a false case or real one – is that the demon called patriarchy has reared its head again.
The real cases are underreported because of shame, stigma, family (and the girl’s) honour, and of course, threats and pressure from the accused. The sudden focus on false cases is because the tables have turned, and the men are suddenly feeling victimised and targeted. When you remove them from their position of power and superiority and let them know how vulnerable they are too, it doesn’t sit well with them. And hence, the hue and cry about the unfairness of it all.
The false cases are exaggerated; one, because it suits the purpose to distract from the real issue of the huge rape problem (Who says, incidents of rape are on the rise. Half the cases are false. HA!); and two, because the men obviously want to cover up for the crimes committed by their own. What better way to do it that cry ‘false accusation’ and slut-shame the woman instead!
So, in case of a ‘false accusation’, the people will obviously blame the woman instead of the man. (As for the man, he was just falsely accused, you guys. Give him a break!)
There’s another issue at play here.
Till some years ago, if a sexual relationship begun on the pretext of marriage, but which did not culminate in marriage, was classified as ‘rape’. For some years, there has been this slight shift in not classifying it as rape now. It is evident that this has more to do with the respective judge who is presiding the cases (as well as the rise in casual sexual relationships).
How did sex under emotional manipulation, coercion or based on fraudulent promises of marriage get the pass as ‘not being rape’ is something I don’t understand. But it’s possible we women never got that memo. It is this ignorance of what constitutes as ‘rape’ that leads to a larger number of cases being dismissed and ultimately being labelled as false.
The lack of ‘no’ is an assumed ‘yes’ even when the victim is not in a position to give consent. (Yes, a bad relationship is not rape. But domestic violence, sexual harassment, and unwanted sexual advances occur in ‘real’ relationships too. Unfortunately, we do not consider them rape!)
The problem with getting distracted with false cases is that we forget the real cases and start raising our eyebrows at every accusation, doubting every woman, questioning every victim, even those for whom it is difficult to speak out in the first place.
The atrocities against women are at an all-time high and we still worry about a select few false cases?
It’s sad really, this attempt to divert from the real issues and crimes against women and to shut down the women voices.
When the real cases do come up even those are labelled false and due process isn’t followed. Men have always enjoyed special treatment and yet cry foul the minute a woman starts to demand some basic respect.
Nana Patekar, MJ Akbar, and the CJI’s silly and ridiculous threats to shut down the women who dared to speak against them is proof enough of how the mighty and powerful react when they are questioned for their actions.
Basic humanity and common sense have taken a beating. The hunger for power is so great that men scream ‘false case’ at every pretext now. Even if the complaint is genuine. The problem arises when the victim is unable to prove their claims of sexual assault as true.
It is interesting to note, also, how the men are quivering in their big boots now that they are being made the ‘victims’. (It is also worth noting here how women have always borne the brunt of being victims and have always encountered gender-based discrimination and violence, often to no legal recourse!)
The unfortunate truth is that the law was written by the men, for the men – to protect the interests of men, obviously. That’s exactly why marital rape is still not a crime. That’s exactly why inter-religion/inter-caste relationships end with honour killings.
Because, the family’s honour.
Because, what will others say? (And this ‘what will others say’ is a concern in both, real cases, as well as false cases. That’s why the real cases are hushed up and the false cases are created because the woman was raped, not sexually active.) That’s why a majority of rape cases go unreported. Or those that are reported are withdrawn under pressure and threats, or the victim is killed.
What’s even more surprising is how these same men who never bothered about the crimes against women (or even were the perpetrators, before the #MeToo movement) are now so worried about the ‘unfairness of the law’ that they refuse to see the inherent male bias even now.
It is also note-worthy to consider that before our constitution was designed, the majority aggrieved party were women, and continue to be so.
Laws to protect the interests of women were created because women were more victimised before this. Sati practice was abolished. Child marriage was criminalized. But while sati may have been done away with, other evils like child marriage, dowry deaths, domestic violence, and even marital rape continue unchecked.
The law was supposed to be a deterrent to the perpetrators of such crimes. As we know, that hasn’t happened and sexual assault continues unabated, and the accused roam the streets brazenly, shamelessly screaming #NotAllMen and blaming the victim instead.
The law was designed to protect the women, yes, but it has failed in its mission.
And yes, as with everything else, incidents of misuse are rampant here too. Some women use it to exact revenge against a few men – sometimes innocent men pay the price of what their gender has continued for generations. It’s unfair and not acceptable. But that’s not the general rule. Those cases are few, and it is upon us to not start painting every case with the same brush.
Every woman who dares to speak out against sexual assault should be believed – simply because, trust. Let’s not discredit them by doubting them, especially when it takes them an immense amount of courage. Besides, the truth is women don’t really lie about that. (Some can, yes, but those a staggering minority against the actual incidents.)
To focus on the false cases, even more than the real ones, is seeing only half the problem. To say that the law is biased in favour of women, is to be completely blinded to the actual problem, and further becoming the problem itself.
So let’s take a breath before we start lamenting #NotAllMen or #MenToo.
For this demon called Patriarchy (and not the misuse of law) is everyone’s enemy – a menace so huge that it targets all genders of society.
So much importance is given to the woman’s izzat that in real as well as false cases, the threat of damaging the woman’s honour is the only tool available to cause damage to the less powerful party. That the honour isn’t the woman’s anyway is not something they are not willing to entertain or accept.
Patriarchy revels in its position of being the upholder of the woman’s dignity and honour and take pride in being the agents of protectors of the woman’s honour. It believes that the woman is the repository of the honour of the woman’s family; and because the woman ‘belongs’ to the man, it is his right and duty to protect her. The idea that someone could hurt or damage their honour is far scarier and scandalous that the actual well-being of the woman. Hence, rape threats are the biggest tool of intimidation against a woman not doing their bidding.
The biggest drawback of the #MenToo movement is that it is largely reactionary, as a retaliation of the #MeToo uprising – as if to indicate that the women aren’t the victims but the perpetrators. What’s even more alarming is that the #MenToo isn’t about taking a stand against sexual violence on men, but about protecting the already powerful and entitled community from being penalized for their actions.
As is often cited in the cases of sexual assault cases against women, ‘let the law takes it course’ in the false cases too.
Suggest you join the fight against patriarchy, instead of only taking up the imagined cause of men’s rights. And stop attacking those who stand up for women’s rights – women (as well as the other genders) have always been the more discriminated gender and continue to be so.
Image source: a still from Ranjhaanaa
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Piyusha is a sometime sane reader, part-time crazy writer and full-time wacky alien.
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