Saturday, 26 April 2014

On Rape : Part III

In connection with the crime, or rather as society puts it, "incident" of rape, there is always an underlying, unsaid assumption that the victim asked for it.

Now what can one say about such an illogical and absurd assertion?

That a woman sets out of her house just waiting for a man to come by so she could ask him, "Hey rape me. I'm a woman!". As if she were flagging down a cab or an autorickshaw. Or ordering samosa-chai or burger-fries at a restaurant....As if a 2 yr-old toddler would say to her neighbour, "It's ok to rape me. I'm 2, can barely walk or talk properly, but I know all about rape. So come over. Do it. I'll not tell anybody, you see, because I can barely talk."

This attitude of "She Asked For It" which society, more often than nought, adopts towards victims of rape, is one of the biggest hurdles in not only ensuring justice for the victim, but in educating society against the horrors of rape as a crime. Whatever be the circumstances of the case, there is an unsaid statement hanging thick in the air, like the proverbial elephant in the room, which says, "She must have done SOMETHING to provoke the men".

Many social responsible personalities keep making many socially irresponsible statements. Some attribute rape to the women population's way of dressing. Some to women being out late at night. Some to the use of mobile phones. Some to foreign food. And others to various other equally absurd causes. 

A woman's sense of dressing and choosing to live a liberated, modern lifestyle, are the most oft talked about reasons behind increasing cases of rape. A liberated  modern lifestyle, which is relatively new for the Indian social psyche. Wearing western clothes or short, revealing clothes.  Living alone, away from home. Working late nights on an equal footing with the male work force, other than in domestic and menial jobs. Going out for late night parties, cinema, and perhaps smoking and drinking. Being open about romantic or sexual relationships with men. Spending time on social media. 

A large percentage of the populace are strong believers in the "myth of the modern woman who was just asking for it". This myth is energetically discussed whenever an unfortunate rape takes place, and sadly, a great proportion of the believers are women themselves. Now, don't men also have the same kind of lifestyle? Yes. Even men from the lower strata of society, as compared to women who are mostly from the middle or upper classes. Why don't they get molested or raped? Surely, a woman would also get sexually aroused at the sight of a male muscled body on display? Or is it that women do not have the right to get sexually aroused in the first place? If a woman drinking in a pub is "easy", the same should apply to a man too. But why doesn't society do so? 

Again, it is because a woman is not supposed to lust after a man, or because woman are not supposed to "chase" men. Right. Like the deer doesn't chase the lion. Or the buffalo doesn't chase the alligator. Why? Because obviously the Strong chase and hunt down the Weak. So then isn't it obviously the case that rape is like a hunt? Or a display of power? The predator overpowering the prey? That is why men walking topless on the streets or workmen labouring in little clothing don't get raped by women passing by. But a fully clothed domestic help is raped by her employer. Or a fully clothed techie is raped by the driver of the cab she took. And what to say of little girls below 10 years of age who do not even have a body which can sexually arouse any man other than one with a perverted demented mind.

Here is another perspective. What if a woman is scantily clad? What if she manages to sexually arouse every man she passes by? Her role is only in choosing her clothing which as the citizen of a free country, she is free to do. The decision of raping her is purely that of the perpetrator. His thought processes, his value system, his awareness of the woman's right to her own body, his basic conditioning towards the rights of women and his control over his bodily processes. All these are attributable to the perpetrator, not the victim. Even a sex worker has the right to chose her clients. So the victim can never be a willing accessory to the crime. It is the decision of the perpetrator, and his alone, which causes the crime to take place. 

A parallel I would like to draw here is that of road rage. Two groups get into an argument about a trivial matter. The fight produces various chemical responses in the body, making the mind go into a "murderous rage". Whereas in some situations people just back down after the initial adrenaline rush, and when better sense prevails; some people end up fighting and killing each other. As they say "a heat of the moment" murder. But again, the choice to "cool down" or not, is the individual's. Else every fight on the streets would end up in a blood bath. Several psychological studies have been conducted which conclude that the same stimulus produces different responses in different individuals. And that the difference in responses does not depend on the stimulus but on the psychological attributes of the individual, which are influenced by both nature and nurture.

Rape is usually not a heat of the moment crime. It is always a planned and well-calculated crime. Like stalking the victim. Like watching the schedule of the victim and her family to determine at which time and places she is likely to be alone and could be caught unawares. Like enticing a little girl with a chocolate or toy. Like visiting a known victim on some pretext with the intention of raping her. Or like in the Nirbhaya case, taking a slow drive in an off-duty bus with the purpose of picking up an unsuspecting victim. Like hiding in the shadows of an abandoned landmark predator-like waiting for an unsuspecting victim to pass-by so that they can pounce on her like in the Mumbai photo-journalist case. Like lurking in the pre-dawn fields to draw a woman from the village, going to the fields in the absence of toilets, deep into the grasslands. Like a tiger pulling its kill deep into the forest to enjoy a leisurely meal.

So, as far as the dressing sense or lifestyle choices of a modern woman are concerned, the myth has been busted. In a modern civilized society, if all men are testosterone-driven creatures totally at the mercy of their hormones, which rule over their intellect and generations of civilized Jung-ian collective unconscious, may be doomsday is not very far off, for men lusting after blood, wealth, power and women would run rampage and rule the world in a survival of the "hormone"-iest.

                                        (Cont'd..)  On Rape : IV

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