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Everyone is blaming women for “getting raped” and putting restrictions on them. Utter nonsense. Put the blame where it really belongs.
India sadly still has a rape statistic as high as 106 rapes every day. Each time a rape case makes it to national headlines and the discourse rises about sexual violence, the thrust is often wrong.
Our social media gets abuzz with ‘guidelines for women to prevent rape’, and media reports such cases in a click-bait manner, using phrases like the accused were “under the influence of alcohol” or were “addicted to porn”.
This is the strange thing about how India reacts to such tragedies. We blame everything else but never the rapists, the men who rape get away scot free at least from any social sanction. They are labelled beasts, mentally deranged, or monsters.
Society thus conveniently distances itself from its contribution to the rape culture from which these men originate – the rapists and the police who show their insensitive side every time. They have all been raised in this sexist and misogynist culture where we detest girls even before they are born, and considering them some ‘thing’ that is a liability.
It is time we start blaming the men who rape for the rape, and not everything else as the main culprits.
It was believed for many years that “pornography is theory and rape is practice.” Over the decades several research studies have proven that there is no direct connection between these two. South Africa the country that has highest rapes per 10, 0000 women has low consumption of pornography.
In a study Danish criminologist Berl Kutchinsky found that the availability of pornography even the “aggressive” type, did not correlate directly with increase in rates of sexual violence. Czech Republic, Japan, China and Denmark have all proven that more and easy access to porn has in fact allowed a safe expression for its adults of their sexual urges and hence reduced rates of both sexual offences and child abuse.
India is the third largest consumer of pornography globally and don’t be surprised that 30% of those consumers are women, but these women don’t go out and rape, so is porn the problem, or the men consuming it wrongly?
In countries like India where there is immense taboo around sex, and a serious lack of sex education, pornography often becomes first default sex educator, and that can indeed distort the notion of sex for many young people.
To clarify – is not the consumption of pornography that definitely leads to real-world sexual violence, it is the consumption of ‘rape videos’ and ‘extreme porn’ without proper guidance that leads to wrong practices and often crimes by youth. But outlawing pornography isn’t the solution. Outlawing pornography suggests that those who enjoy it—including women—are deviant, which is oppressive too. The ideal society should regulate the circulation of sexual material but not ban it completely.
Sadly most parents often themselves lack proper vocabulary or confidence to speak to children about their bodies, puberty, safe sex, contraception and consent. Kids end up getting distorted information from equally clueless friends, a hugely sexist popular culture, and from porn, leading to a generation that either has hugely exaggerated and violent views about sex, or no knowledge at all.
We thus create a hugely claustrophobic society sexually. A young adult boy or girl wanting to masturbate safely in a private space should not be taboo. Adult men and women having sex with consent or indulging in some public display of affection must not be stigmatised. Parents talking about sex in families must be the norm.
Let us try to educate our boys and men to be more evolved sexually to not use sex as violence, and regulated age-appropriate pornography can be a tool in that process.
Image source: a still from the movie Stree
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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.
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