As Long As Rape Is Treated As Just Sexual Desire, The Problem Will Persist

Posted: December 2, 2019

The focus on safety measures, and considering rapists as ‘oversexed’ men, is utterly wrong. It’s important to treat rape as a crime of power and eradicate its very roots.

The recent incident of four men raping a Hyderabad-based Vet sent shock waves across the country again. But whenever rape happens in India, people overlook analysing the whys and get into a rut of reactions.

There are some standard responses from people around. One is victim blaming –  people will start analysing everything, from the woman’s clothes, to the time it happened to the safety measures she did not seek. In this case for instance, many people pointed out that she could have called the police.

While such a safety measure could perhaps have helped her, they forget an important aspect that is, why does she have to be in that position in the first place, where she has to fear for her safety? It’s important to discuss why rape has become such a common crime! Thoughts of safety measures are the one hand normal, but they are also redundant reactions. The lowest of the low moments is when people tend to make this opportunistic and and blame feminism as it gives “too much freedom” to women to “roam around”.

What people fail to analyse is the core issue

As long as rape is treated just as sexual desire, the problem persists; people need to understand that it is a power play, it is part of the large system of patriarchy. While everyone rushes into restricting women even more after such an incident, in the name of safety, they never question the men and their freedom or their values.  This is the biggest element of rape culture in India. Rape culture is perpetuating the crime and justifying the crime using victim blaming.

Other aspects of rape culture include normalisation of rape or violence (sexual/non sexual) against women, passing on jokes around rapes,  justifying the violence against women in movies or in reality. Rape culture spreads through the objectification of women that is, considering women as objects or inferior to men. The popular media, that is movies, daily soaps, music videos, and lyrics in them scream objectification and discrimination, not to forget the inappropriate jokes on women and rape, such as the recent example ‘pati patni aur woh’ rape joke.

How Rape Culture works

Rape culture is also part of our Indian culture! Whether it is the mythologies or the culture, they treat a husband as superior and wife as a service provider to him and her in-laws. This not only discriminates against women but also stems from the idea that women are inferior and objects that have no value. How many people question the misogynistic stories like Sati Savitri? I used to always flinch when the story of Agnidev was narrated. He desires other women and his wife changes her form into that of those women in order to satisfy her husband – the result is that those women are suspected of adultery. This story I listen to every year as part of the Ganesh Chaturthi puja.

Aren’t these stories encouraging men to behave the way they have? Isn’t it also part of rape culture? Religion, every religion is also an institution that needs to be questioned for misogyny and rape culture.

Isn’t it shocking that many of the rapists are under 25 or sometimes not even adults? Where do they get such cruelty from? It draws us to look deeply into the households they grow up in – there is a higher chance that kids grow up into abusers or even murderers when they grow up in an abusive environment or home. If for example their mothers are treated badly by their fathers, and they grow up watching it, violence is normalised. 

As long as people encourage women to stay in abusive relationships, fearing society, as long as women stay in such abusive relationships and raise kids into believing that beating a woman is okay, or forcing women to have sex is okay, rape culture continues to prevail. 

What can we do?

After such an incident of rape, safety measures like emergency phone numbers and GPS tracking are definitely important to discuss. The focus however needs to shift to the perpetrator and why and how men are turning to be rapists. But the constant talk about what-ifs and safety measures not only diverts the whole issue but also indirectly justifies the rape!

Finally, cutting down the freedom of women after rape incidents is absolutely wrong – the damage should be caused to the victimisers, not to the victims! Parents or elders need to first see how their boys behave with girls. If your son does not respect a girl, it’s your responsibility to teach him a lesson because everything begins at home. And of course I should not fail to mention, there should be fast track justice for the victims of such hideous crimes. The sad truth is that even the Nirbhaya act, i.e. the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 did not really give fast or apt justice to Nirbhaya herself!

Top image is a still from Hindi movie Kabir Singh, a movie much discussed for its objectification of women

Liked this post?

Register at Women's Web to get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads! Or - get a couple of really cool reads on your phone every day - click here to send us a Whatsapp message.

Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, sign up and start sharing your views too!

Infertility Is Not The End Of The World

Comments

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

Get our weekly mailer and never miss out on the best reads by and about women!

Do you believe in your content