As problematic as the title of this article sounds, the question still carries its authenticity. There is no denying that despite however much we pride ourselves with the “Indian” tag, ours is a country with an acute shortage of respect. Day after day, even hour after hour, you see new reports coming in of yet another rape or gang rape.
When I say “rapes”, I do not mean that the Indian women are being stripped off of their honor, because that’s a problematic outlook in itself. What I mean is, we might be living in the 21st century, but a large number of Indian men still live in an era old enough not to respect a woman’s consent and her rights over her own body. The answer to “Why do rapes happen?” might seem simple enough, but there are many people who have different “opinions” to contribute.
Comments made by our political leaders
Just when you think India has come a long way in being progressive, another new incident drives you right back to the “good” old days. In the latest addition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Haryana, Premlata Singh, made a triggering statement, trying to “explain” the causes of rape.
“The frustration that has crept up into the minds of our youths is one of the reasons behind such incidents. Youths who are… unemployed and unsure of their future commit such heinous acts (rapes).” She was talking in reference to the recent gang-rape of an ex-CBSE topper in Haryana. What followed, was understandably, a series of criticism for the MLA. But, this is unfortunately not the first time a politician has said something narrow about the bizarre rape culture we seem to be harbouring in the country.
In 2013, a Congress leader, Satyadev Katare, was quoted saying, “A man only starts harassing a woman after she gives him suggestive looks”. Not to mention, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), that often remains in the limelight for questionable reasons, had its chief leader, Mohan Bhagwat saying in the same year that “Rapes are prevalent in India, not in Bharat”. What good can we expect of our countrymen, when the people we are told to look up to, have opinions like these?
Where does the fault lie?
When you say things like “unemployment” causes rapes, in the process, you are essentially justifying the act, whatever the intention may be. Rape is a violation of one’s bodily rights, often resulting in the survivor taking years to get over the trauma. It is a corrupt mindset that leads to rapes, period. The moment you start finding other reasons for it, you’ve become part of the problem.
Saying that a woman’s “suggestive” looks lead men into harassing her, and finally raping her, is just another one in the strings of conservative opinions women have to face. There have been rapes of 2-3 month old girls, sometimes even by their closest family members. Where were the suggestive looks then? Moreover, no woman ever consents to being harassed- which is why it’s called “harassment” in the first place. If she smiles at you, hugs you, or is friendly towards you- does not mean she’s “asking for it”.
Using things like the “glory” of Indian culture is perhaps the most prevalent form of sheltering rape culture. There is no shortage of leaders, or even common men who are quick to blame rapes on the western influence.
“She was wearing short clothes.”
“She was drinking at a club at night.”
“She was hanging out with men late at night.”- The list goes on and on.
So, how to find out if you are correctly blaming a scenario? Simple. What was the cause of the rape? If your answer is anything other than “the rapist”, we have a problem. A girl in short clothes, or in a drunk state is still not inviting you, until and unless she clearly states that. Even then, she has the right to say “no”. If anybody’s male ego is too much to digest the simple concept of a “yes” and “no”, then it is them you should be pointing fingers at.