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14 Men Raped A 13y.o In Pune Over 5 Days. Yes, Read Those Numbers, And Then Read Ahead!

Rape and sexual violence are power tools, they have little or nothing to do with desire or lust and everything to do exercising power over those can be dominated.

Rape and sexual violence are power tools, they have little or nothing to do with desire or lust, and everything to do exercising power over those who can be dominated.

Trigger Warning: This has child sexual abuse, gang rape, violence against women, and may be triggering for survivors.

On the 31st of August, 14 men including two railway employees and several autorickshaw drivers have been arrested over the rape of a 13-year-old child.

She had gone to the railway station to meet a friend and when he didn’t turn up, a friendly-seeming autorickshaw driver offered to ferry her home. He, along with an accomplice, took her to a secluded location and proceeded to rape her. They then invited several of their friends to partake in the ‘fun’.

Over the course of the next few days, 14 men raped the child over and over until they’d had their fill, whereupon they abandoned her and cheerfully went about their everyday regular life.

It’s still early days. One isn’t certain how the police managed to find her and under what circumstances. But what is likely to happen is some sage person will shake their heads sadly over the ‘permissiveness’ of the parents in ‘allowing’ their daughter to be out in the night.

In late July, a couple of teenage girls were raped while they were attending a party on Benaulim beach in Goa. During a debate on a calling attention notice in the House, Chief Minister of Goa, Pramod Sawant said, “When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don’t listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police…”

Given an opportunity, cis gender men will rape

What I infer from the honourable CM’s words is that given the opportunity, cisgender men will rape. His thinking falls in line with what statistics show, that the overwhelming majority of rapists are cis men. And it is therefore the ‘duty’ of the parents to keep their daughters at home to prevent that from happening.

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Or, what he (and all in power that they don’t use to create a safer society) are saying is that rapist men have a free rein of our roads and beaches and railway stations and women and children are second-rate citizens as compared to the rapists and it is not the responsibility of the government or law enforcement to protect them.

If anything the cis male-dominated capitalist-patriarchy supports and condones violence against women and oppressed minorities.

Rape and sexual violence are power tools, they have little or nothing to do with desire or lust, and everything to do exercising power over those who can be dominated. Every time a woman or child is raped she spends a lifetime getting over the physical, mental, and emotional trauma. In her wake, all other women become wary that they could very easily be the next rape victim and they become smaller, inconspicuous, more cautious, more protective of themselves and their daughters.

This is how all men benefit from rape culture

My neighbour’s daughter was the first woman to graduate in the family. But when she was offered a high paying night-shift job at a BPO, her parents worrying for her safety made her reject the offer. The company was offering a drop service, but the parents countered, “Who would protect her from the driver?”

So she was made to take a day job with lesser prospects at half the salary and eventually married off. This was enough, they deemed for the bright young woman. And there was one less woman in the workforce (this data shows how 68% urban educated women are unemployed, and this is one of the biggest reasons). Perhaps the ‘better job’ went to a young man who had no real worries of rape, he didn’t even need the extra cost of a drop off; public transport would be perfectly safe for him.

And that is how men who claim to be ‘good’ men, men who claim to have never ever assaulted a woman or child, benefit from rape culture. And they are just as responsible, even though they would scream from the rooftops that they are good and #NotALLMen.

This is the opportunity cost for women

Whenever a rape survivor is asked why she was at that place, at that time, doing that, wearing that, it underlines the statement that all cis men will rape if they have a chance.

Women waste valuable time and energy protecting themselves against rape, constantly preparing themselves for that eventuality. The second we or our daughters leave home, we start thinking about it.

The clothes we wear, the time we leave home, the mode of transport, the company we keep, when to drink, when to stop, whom to drink with. I remember male friends giggling that women always visit loos together. It doesn’t occur to them for a minute that restrooms are isolated spaces, and places where we feel extremely vulnerable. Why would it occur to them? In India, every wall, every tree, every road is the vast public urinal available to the Indian male.

Whereas women are taught from birth that they are responsible for any sexual violence they suffer and so when the inevitabilty (almost all the women in the world have suffered sexual violence at the hands of cis men) does occur, we and the world at large begin to question ourselves. Like that 14-year-old child from Pune, like those teenage girls in Goa, they will face a lifetime of guilt and shame and insult atop injury.

The ‘good’ men who’ll never really understand

When the ‘good men’ don’t rape, they drain us of our valuable time and energy hijacking our spaces.

A friend in her anguish over the rape of the child in Pune, wrote an FB post asking if there was at all a safe city in the world for women. A male friend cheerily, cutely commented, R-City (a mall in Mumbai). So hilarious right? Even when we demand nothing of men, they arrive to mock us on what is a very real fear, take up our space, and propagate the same rape culture everywhere.

One can summon outrage from a point of relative safety or from the belief that only a few men are evil. I can no longer vouch for either sentiment.

All men have the capacity to rape (ask Hon. CM Pramod Sawant), no woman (and other genders) or child is truly safe from it. If some men do not rape, they tacitly benefit from the rape, the disbelief, and the systemic violence against women (and other genders) and children. Knowing that men have the capacity to rape and brutalise, why are they allowed to roam freely in public spheres? Why aren’t their movements policed?

Why aren’t cis men made to come home before dark?

Image source: a still from the film Pink

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About the Author

Hema Gopinathan

Hema Gopinathan left a blight of a corporate career to homeschool her two children. A teacher trained in the Waldorf/ Rudolf Steiner pedagogy, a writer, read more...

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