Tag Archives: Women

Rapes in India & The Crisis of Consensus!

Men rape only when provoked by women like YOU!

Having heard this so many times, sadly the women of India believe this is true.

In December 2013, the editor-in-chief of India’s Tehelka magazine was accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague twice in a hotel elevator during a conference in Goa. Until this incident, Tehelka was one of the most respected magazines, making headlines for path- breaking and courageous journalism that reported real stories and exposed scams in India.

But this incident exposed Tehelka. It brought to light the double standards of some urban, educated elites working for the magazine. Tehelka’s female managing editor, well known for her feminist stance, did not encourage the journalist to report the matter to the police.  She subsequently was accused of a cover-up and was forced to resign under fire from the media.

“Lapse of judgment”, “something ostensibly playful gone so horribly wrong” “were phrases used in the apology letter written by the accused to his managing editor and the victim.

Another high profile case of sexual harassment that surfaced last year was that of a law intern who was sexually molested by a senior Supreme Court Judge who was also a member of a state Human Rights Commission. In his defense he said: “Allegations were made by the intern 11 months after the incident. I never abused my power. She could have left the room if she was feeling unwell. No person can be forced to drink wine if the person doesn’t want to.” (Source: Interview to CNN IBN http://ibnlive.in.com/news/sexual-harassment-case-justice-ganguly-blames-wb-government-sc-panel/444098-3.html)

To show just how pervasive is the sentiment, more recently, I read the news of a woman politician and a member of a Women’s Commission who echoed a similar view. At a women’s event, she questioned why the Delhi Gang Rape victim was out at night. She added that a woman’s attire and behavior are prerequisites to rape.  (quote from her here)

A media honcho, Supreme Court judge and a woman politician in different ways each imply that rape could simply amount to a lapse of judgment and a woman should bear responsibility in terms of the hours she keeps and the clothes she wears.  In other words, she is not simply the victim of a violent crime but possibly responsible for the act itself.

Post the Delhi Gang Rape, there seems to be more of a consensus that rape is a terrible crime but is that enough to protect our women and children? The statements related above worry me since I clearly don’t hear one voice on “Why women are raped in India?”

While we criticize Khap Panchayats in Haryana or Tribal councils in West Bengal for being backward in their mindsets, we tend to forget that there are many among the “educated elite” in this country who have a similar outlook. They might not be as vociferous in their opinions but the above examples clearly show that the burden of proof is shifted to the victim.

Rape – of a woman, man or a child involves abuse of power and position. It involves objectifying the person, force and coercion. Rape is not consensual, it can never be. We tend to miss the crux of this issue by focusing on the unnecessary details; sometimes we do it to divert our attention from the bitter truth. Women are conditioned to believe that by stepping out of line, they could bring rape upon themselves.

We must condemn every act of violence against women and children and we must reach a consensus on assigning responsibility to the perpetrator and not the victim. We can recruit more policemen for safety, we can sell pepper sprays and teach our girls karate – but can we stop judging our girls and women?

 

Advertisements

A CELEBRITY HANGS HERSELF FOR AN ABUSIVE BOYFRIEND – WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT INDIAN WOMEN?

The Jia Khan’s case (a celebrity who hanged herself earlier this month due to a failed love affair) does not make my heart wrench for her clearly because its a classic example of how women “educated” “effluent” and “elite” who are supposed to be independent and intelligent, let LOSERS take charge of their life and kill themselves in the end.

Jia Khan was a role model to many girls in her own way because she had achieved so much in a young age. Her boyfriend was a struggler and a loser. He was abusive and clearly not faithful, in spite of all this she was with him. I appreciate that she was in love and she was faithful – BUT YOU CANNOT BE STUPID IN LIFE. She had a mother, two sisters and her entire career ahead of her. She chose to give away all that for a abuser and a rapist?

You CANNOT blame the world for your problems. You have to take charge of your situation and change it. I am a firm believer of that.

I work with thousands of women who are victims of violence and abuse – they ARE STILL ALIVE, fighting their battle every single day. Jia khan had all the resources to live happily IF she had a better will power. I have no sympathy for people who are cowards in life.

What is real upliftment of women? When she takes charge of her life and shows the door to people out who are causing her pain and violating her rights – JIA KHAN became a victim. My issue is not that she got pregnant or she aborted. I am sure all that was by her own choice – she gave her consent because that is what it looks like, lets assume that even if she was raped she had a choice to go in public and ensure this guy was behind bars.She was a celebrity, she had the media behind her and she could have certainly ruined his life if she wanted. This could have been an example for millions of young girls in India.

She could have led by example but she did not. She succumbed to the SELF CREATED PRESSURES and SELF AFFLICTED PAIN – She had a CHOICE unlike many other women in this country and yet gave it all away.

Jia’s Family who have now come all out against this guy should have done this the day the mother found out that Jia was hit by this boyfriend.  What were they doing till now? Is this not the case with majority of families in India – we don’t know what our daughters are going through, who they are with and what it could potentially do to them.

How I wish WOMEN in India could have a better sense of what is right and what is wrong for themselves. The guy DID NOT deserve Jia – period!! She was stuck to him because SHE loved him, and he USED HER, ABUSED HER AND CERTAINLY KILLED HER. She knew it all along.

This country is full of ABUSIVE BOYFRIENDS who think they can get what they want , but are we going to let our girls die because we teach them that TRUE LOVE HAPPENS ONLY ONCE and you have to marry the man with whom you have slept? Ridiculuos!!!

Passionate protests, countless candles, endless banter & little action – 3 months after the Delhi gang rape, has INDIA changed?

Three months ago the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi shook the consciousness of INDIA. A lot has happened since 29 December 2012, the day she passed away.

There have been violent protests, candlelight processions, silent prayers and endless conversations have centered on the need for INDIA to change. Some called it the uprising of the indifferent middle class, for others it was a student movement and still others felt it was an issue for the women’s movement in India.

Whatever the perspective, three months later I think it is time for us to ask ourselves has something changed? Do we have a better understanding of women’s issues in India? Has the government started to look at “systemic change” as promised? Do I as a woman feel more secure in Delhi and elsewhere?

I am afraid to be branded as a cynic, but my heart says and events prove that nothing much has yet changed. While I do not deny that there have been a few measures to show some intent towards reducing crime against women in India, I can sense an aversion from the Government towards long-term commitment and continuous thought on the issue.

The 80-year-old Justice J.S. Verma, the former Chief Justice of India, and two of his colleagues were given the task of looking at the entire body of laws relating to gender justice and crimes against women in India. The Government of India appointed this committee on the 16th of December. With the help of 18 juniors and more than 70,000 suggestions from activists, civil society, media, lawyers and experts across India, the committee put forth the benchmark 569-page report on “Amendments in the Criminal Law” in just 29 days.

The report was well received by all sections of society and the tremendous effort of Justice Verma’s team was applauded. The report covered almost everything from voyeurism, offensive IPC sections to acid attacks and sexual assaults on women.

What impressed me were the unbiased, apolitical, balanced and rational recommendations that showed the metal of a few legal geniuses. working under extreme pressure in the most volatile situation. They came up with something so comprehensive within no time. How I wish we all could learn from the way the committee functioned.

The Government thanked and applauded the committee for its hard work and accepted many of its recommendations. However, certain key suggestions were promptly rejected. The Government has ignored criminalizing marital rape, reviewing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and trying military personnel accused of sexual offences under criminal law, as well a barring politicians facing sexual assault cases from contesting elections. But the major recommendation that was rejected came in the form of “death penalty” for rapist’s verses “life imprisonment”.

“It was a unanimous suggestion of women leaders who have been fighting for the cause for decade,” Justice Verma said in an interview.  “The current trend is against the death penalty,” said Justice Verma in an interview. However the Government rejected it by arguing otherwise.

Based on the report, the government introduced an ordinance amending Indian Penal Code and other laws relating to rape and other sexual offences. And a law is likely to be passed in budget session of parliament next month related to the ordinance.

But women activists are not very happy with the ordinance, which makes the perpetrator of rape ‘gender-neutral’. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he will be able to file a counter-complaint of rape against her.

The ordinance, in its present form, justifies and legalizes marital rape. Even if a wife separates legally from her husband, the husband will get a lenient (two-year) punishment if he rapes her. In India sexual assault by one’s spouse accounts for approximately 25% of rapes committed, but the Government seems to be in no mood to bring marital rape under the new law.

There has also been a big debate on reducing the age of a juvenile from 18  to 16 years of age. This is because one of the prime accused in the Delhi Rape case is 17 years old. There are contradicting opinions about reducing the age of a juvenile. Child rights activists feel there should not be generalizations based on one case, police and the girl’s family, however, want the juvenile hanged (which is not possible under the current law).

I am certain that the Government will hang all the 5 accused (except the Juvenile) mainly for two reasons: A big agenda points to the campaign for the 2014 elections and they will want to take the credit for delivering justice to the victim. It makes me wonder: can the death penalty scare rapists or potential rapists? Has this changed anything?

Over the past three months, we have been reading news of incest, gang rape, murder, from all over India. Shockingly 90% of the cases being reported are of Child Sexual Assault. The most recent one was the horrific rape and murder of three sisters (minors) who were begging for food in Bhandara, Maharashtra.

The Government is silent on Sex Education in schools, stronger programs for child protection, police reforms, and better political systems to have credible individuals as people’s representatives. After three months of passionate protests, countless candles and endless banter as a nation has INDIA forgotten its women and children?

RAPED , KILLED, CREMATED – CAN INDIA’S CONSCIOUSNESS CHANGE?

We Indian women have been groped, fondled, touched, pushed, teased, pinched and raped. Some of us raped literally and some raped through eyes, comments and gestures. Each one of us has faced this since puberty, some were unlucky to face it even before, some in their homes, some in schools and most of us on the streets.

Since my teenage years, my parents, like most parents in India, told me, “The outside world is bad, so be careful.” We were told to hold our bags to cover our breasts, we were not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts, or short skirts that might attract the attention of men, no fitted tops and no make up. The world around us was BAD, we were told.

And their fear was justified: In India a woman is raped every 4 seconds. Whenever we read about a rape case the implication was that the woman had been careless: She wore a tight skirt, she went out too late, she was with a man and therefore must be a prostitute. Never was the rapist blamed. This is part of our consciousness and learning since childhood and part of the reason the terrible problem persists.

Instead, we have taught our girls to protect themselves with martial arts, told them to carry chili powder to throw in the eyes of an attacker. We have covered them in multiple layers of clothes and taught them to use an umbrella for protection. Never have we thought to look at this issue from another perspective, we, each one of us, have blindly accepted that the world around us is BAD.

But our collective failure to speak out, to act against men who rape, has led once again to tragedy, this time in Delhi. There, in mid-December, a 23-year-old medical student was brutally raped on a chartered bus over many hours and then discarded  on the streets of the national capital. Six psychotic men raped her, beat her and threw her away thinking they could do so with impunity. Nothing protected her – her multiple layers of clothes, the lessons from her parents, the six police check points which she passed as she was being raped, or her male friend – everything failed this woman.

As terrible as this was, hundreds of women are raped in India every day, some in marriages, some on the streets, but this tragedy has finally sparked the consciousness of our nation of 1 billion. Finally, we speak in one voice – WE NEED TO RESPECT WOMEN IN INDIA. Delhi students and angry women have braved tear gas, water cannons and lathi to protest against the men who thought they could use the young woman for their pleasure, to demand their punishment.

But I wonder, would the sense of national tragedy, the reaction, be the same if the girl, were wearing a short dress when she was picked up by the bus joyriders, if her male companion were a boyfriend, or if they were returning from a nightclub?

I believe this case has grabbed national attention because the girl was SPOTLESS according to the huge moral brigade of India. She was a medical student, wearing Indian dress, it was 9:30 pm (not so late), she went to a movie with a friend and she was returning home. She ticked all the boxes of the ideal Indian woman.

But would the brutality have been any less if this girl were a model or a dancer, wearing a short skirt? We need to use this moment also to analyze our own prejudices when it comes to rape. Don’t we all have biases against women who are MODERN in India? We ignore women who are raped in villages. We turn a blind eye to the thousands of Dalit women who raped by upper caste men.

Although the young woman’s horror represents a terrible loss for her family and the nation, let us hope that her life is not wasted, that our national mourning has finally brought gender inequality and gender-based violence to the forefront. For the first time, there is conversation about teaching boys to respect women, to control their urges.  People are advocating for stringent and swift punishment for rapists. The blame is finally shifting from the victims to the offenders.

This incident has also given hope to the thousands of women who are still struggling for justice after being raped. The not-so-popular Women’s Movement in India has stepped forward.

Hopefully, the national introspection will help diminish the stigma around rape and reporting rape. Bollywood, the media and our repressive society have exaggerated the social stigma attached to reporting an attack and this also needs to change.

Time has come for us as a country to think deeply about the way we see girls and the way we treat them. We worship women as goddesses but label them as whores if they dress differently. We kill girls in the womb, preferring boys, and rape them once they are born.

We need collectively to work to change both the legal and cultural frameworks of this country simultaneously and justice needs to be delivered to victims in a timely manner.

Lets not forget that men are also victims of our socialization. Lets educate our younger generation about sex and sexuality; let’s not teach them what our parents taught us.

We must sensitize our police, politicians, judiciary and media. In our Bollywood films, lets stop portraying women as objects and glorifying men who tease women.

The 23-year-old young girl died of multiple organ failure, from the failure of her country and all of us to protect her. Each one of us is responsible for not speaking out.

The only way we can pay tribute to her terrible sacrifice is to ensure that no other women experience the same, to speak out against violence, to act against violence.

The time has come for us to make this country a safe place for women.