In response to Rape

This blog post by Shuddhabrata Sengupta addresses the attitudes that allow rape to happen. Very thoughtfully written article that is a must read for all. It provokes one to think about the institution of marriage, the religious teachings, the culture that protects the ones that are powerful. Rape as a key to patriarchy.

Is capital punishment the answer? I agree with Sengupta that it is not, it makes it easy and will not correct the heavily ingrained notion of “if you are weak, I will exert my power and will to put you in place.”

To the Young Women and Men of Delhi: Thinking about Rape from India Gate.

Note: Not all of his opinions may be digestible by all but don’t let it stop you from asking yourself about your values and contribution to stop this issue.

Quoting him directly for things you can do to stop rape:

  • Shame any man who casually passes misogynist, sexist, remarks.  Shame all those cowards who try to humiliate anyone because of the way their bodies or desires are. Shame them in public.
  • Young women, do not retreat from public space. Take back the night. Insist on being out and about. Insist on the conditions that enable your safety. Ask why there are no women bus drivers, women cab drivers. Ask what the Delhi police is doing to punish misogynist officers and constables.
  • Young women, please understand that when you hear songs that are violent and misogynist, you can choose to boycott the radio stations and recording companies that put them out. Leave a party or a celebration that plays a Honey Singh song. If you are young man who is a friend of a young woman at any such gathering, leave the celebration with your friend. Call the radio stations, phone in and demand that they stop playing misogynist songs.
  • Demand more public transport. Demand a thousand more buses that ply all night. Demand a metro system that stays open late into the night. Demand street lighting. Ask why the car lobby in Delhi can systematically stymie the expansion of public transport in Delhi. If there are not more public buses and metro trains, understand that those who run this city are responsible for rape and assault.
  • Take your traditions seriously, and recognize that every religion teaches the subjugation and humiliation of women. Ask men and women of religion what they are going to do to recognize the misogyny in their traditions, to confront and challenge them. Insist that under no conditions can any woman pollute anything around her. insist that women are not property. Not of their fathers, brothers, boy-friends or husbands. Not of the state. Not of God. Understand that people can never be property and must never be viewed as such.Combat and confront anyone who says they can be. (my appeal: question your faith and set your own traditions when the ones taught to you do not match up to your belief.)
  • Shame and expose those politicians and police or army officers who try to cover up cases of sexual assault and rape in Kashmir and the North East and elsewhere. Do not create a hierarchy of more and less important victims.

  • Young men, decide now, and for all time, that you will treat the women you encounter first of all as friends, as equals, as people who have as much right to your city as you. Learn to respect a woman’s right to pleasure. To her right to say yes and no. Do not think that ‘no’ means ‘yes’.
  • Young men, if you confront a situation in which any man harasses another woman, or any other person, make sure that you will stand up and protest, call attention to what is going on,  and make sure that this stops.

  • Young men, and young women, do not reduce the matter of confronting rape and molestation to one of asking the attacker whether or not he has ‘sisters and daughters’ at home. Rapists prey on their sisters and daughters just as easily as they do on strangers.
  • Young men and young women, do not ever let anyone tell you that under any circumstances, that your life is not worth living.


Women Issues in India

It has been a terrible few days. First with the news of the innocent lives taken by mindless shooting and then waking up to the news of a woman gang-raped in a moving bus by 4 men in the national capital of India, Delhi.

I read the headlines and purposefully avoided the article at the beginning of what is going to be a busy week till I got a message from my friend Manisha about how the issue was asked to be paid attention to by the Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan and she was asked to cut it short since it was considered a time-waste by the speaker of the house. I was aggravated about the callous behavior of the Speaker for not only trying to brush aside the emotional outburst of the member of Rajya Sabha but also his inability to feel concerned about the issue too. 

As much as I love India and its culture, the choice of its citizens to overlook, ignore and brush aside the issues of women is quite shameful. I find us as a society guilty of hiding the shameful acts of aggression on women be it rape, molestation of girls or harassment by husband’s family towards their daughter-in-law quite drenched in hypocrisy. When it comes to rape, media loves to sensationalize it while our government tries to brush it aside. Very soon, the near and dear ones of the victim start blaming the victim for being out and about, wearing tight jeans, having her hair open, or just looking attractive. For molestation victims, for high number of victims it is someone within the family that takes advantage of the child and by the time the child is able to find a way to bring attention of the others, family reputation of the adult aggressor becomes an excuse for family to shut off the very idea of seeking help. By the time the girl is married and gets to her in-laws place and is ill-treated by in-laws, neither parents or husbands want to support them. Parents feel they just washed their hands off of a huge liability while husbands have not yet learnt to stand up on their own to care for his wife financially and emotionally. All this while the society fasts and celebrates the Mother Goddess as the provider of Wealth, Knowledge and Strength to overcome the evils in the society. 

I understand the despair of Mrs. Bachchan to be brushed aside while other house representatives choose to stay quite and unaffected by her concern. Have we become too used to ignore these issues and just give up on social justice for women and her place in the Indian society to be just an object of means to an end? Why do we call all women sisters in our national pledge when the country turns deaf ears to the sufferings of these sisters from the moment of conception?

Without doubt I know that each of the South Asian women reading this post has a person story to share and can not and will not to save family honor. We should honor each other for the compassion we show our families and society while it continues ignore our need to speak up. Please send a note of support to Mrs. Jayaji with a message on your tweets/walls.