AP Singh, defence lawyer in the Delhi gang rape case has stirred quite a controversy by responding to an innocuous question by a reporter in the most shocking manner. When asked what he would have done if victim of the 16th Dec gang rape was his own daughter, he replied that he would have burnt his daughter alive had she gone out with her boyfriend late at night and done premarital sex.
This is quite typical of Indian males. They have a mindset which views sexuality of women related to them (also however unrelated women) as a domain of their control. The institution of patriarchy is such that when a girl comes of age, her parents start seeking a suitable match. The idea is to marry her off to a boy of their choice before she chooses a partner at her own will. In their understanding, a girl who chooses her own sexual partner is ‘loose’. This is why forced arranged marriages are often termed as rapes by feminists. Societal pressure and lack of a choice leads women to compromise sexually in their marriages. No wonder this patriarchal set-up which self-pats itself for ‘protecting women’ actually protects only ‘sisters’ and ‘mothers’. Any woman who is out of their domain of control is ‘loose’ and deserves all the sexual persecution, an AP Singh would suggest.
This mindset snowballs into something very serious when men take upon themselves the decision of with whom and when to let women have sex. All societies including India are rife with examples of expletives where men use references to each other’s female relatives and how badly can they violate their female relatives’ body. They laugh about it, joke about it and also at times fight over it because as it goes, they are the self-proclaimed saviors of chastity of their women. Women in the whole scenario are silent. They are only proving their innocence to every men out there and covering their ears when such abuses are intentionally hurled in private and public places.
What makes this instance of AP Singh threatening to burn his daughter a lot more serious is that this time he was trying to protect 4 adults (along with 2 more) who were accused of gang raping a girl. This was just another instance of maligning the victim’s character in order to justify the action of the criminal. This is similar to ace lawyer Ram Jethmalani resorting to malign victim’s character in the Jessica Lall case to protect his client, Manu Sharma. He later denied the charge but he seems to have done it again. In the Asaram case, Ram Jethmalani has this time defended his client by saying that the girl has a disases which draws her towards men!
Solution? We as women should actually stop seeking character certificate from men around us. Our sexuality is not a public good which government of the day will protect by passing an ‘Izzat security act’. We are full individuals not half. Thus in order to command respect it is utmost necessary to respect our own choices including sexual ones. Imagine if our respect’s locus did not lie in our sexuality at all then will the rapes occur as often as they do to rob us of our dignity?