No women are not responsible for getting raped, she was not asking for ‘it’
When we were planning to shift to a new locality, I remember how one of the things mentioned to us was that in that colony, a girl was raped
and her family had left the place. I was young at that time but I still remember it this piece of information with the same gravity as it was passed on to the new residents. Now today when I think about it, I wonder why I remember it as a fact about the place where I live and why in the first place, was my family told about this by the people who were living there before us. There must have been cases of other crimes in that locality but why was this particular case, part of the ‘folklore’?
A rape victim once remarked, “sab log ye bhul gaye ki unhone mere saath kya kia par wo yeh nahi bhule ki mere saath kya hua” (Everyone forgot what they did to me but everyone remembers what had happened with me).
Maybe this is because rape is not seen as a crime. We live in a society where rape is seen as a ‘mistake’ of rapist and ‘fault’ of the victim. A typical sum up of rape is- a man could not control his libido after seeing an ‘inappropriately’ dressed up women of ‘loose’ character. Rapists rape because the victims had ‘asked’ for it. Instead of dishonouring the accused and bringing him to shame, we blame the victims. She had ‘provoked’ them. The rapists and eve-teasers could not ‘help it’. We accept it that the fault lies with her clothes, in her speech and in her behaviour. We accept it by saying that “he raped because he is a man.” The onus of checking a man’s erection lies with the woman!
Provoked? Red colour provokes a bull. Is not there a difference between a man and a bull? It is just an excuse. The remark about ‘inappropriate’ clothing and ‘shameless’ behaviour by the victim leading to rape is barbaric and illogical. Studies across the world have revealed the psychology of the rapists on how they select the rape victim. The rape victim is generally a weak-looking or less-confident female. The rapist is not interested in women who would fight back. They look for women who can be easily overpowered. A woman wearing ‘inappropriate’ clothes is more likely to be the one who can show some skin and be confident about it, where confidence puts rapists off.
What do they mean by ‘inappropriate clothes’? What is inappropriate/indecent and who defines it? Is jeans ‘indecent’? If it is, then what is saree? Jeans hides more than a saree does and ask any girl, she can bet her all on how difficult it is to remove a pair of jeans over a pair of salwar-kameez and saree. Jeans thus gives mobility and time to fight back the attacker. Blaming jeans for rape is not only insensible but also reveals another dimension, which I will discuss in a while. Even if we accept for a moment that jeans and other ‘inappropriate’ clothing lead to rape then are we arguing that women in salwar-kameez do not get raped? If this is the case then there should be no rape case in rural areas because women are ‘fully covered’ there. Women in burqas do not get raped? Then there should be no rape cases in muslim-dominated areas. The females in the jarawa community of Andaman and Nicobar islands have remained uncovered for centuries. If there was some logical connection between rape and clothing than by now women there would have started dressing up tip to toe, but this hasn’t happened. It only shows that this link is a societal construct, in favour of men. Why don’t these guys just be responsible for their instinct to get some action? Why is their control over their organs so weak that a woman sans appropriate clothes makes them weak? While they roam around in scantiest of the clothes and pee all over the city!
Regarding the point about women of ‘loose character’ get raped- Women who go to pubs or drink should ‘expect’ rape, they say. What about men? What should they expect when they party and booze all night long? Or is that ‘moral’ restrictions are only meant for women? What is the link between women drinking and rape? What exactly is ‘loose character’ and who defines it? If I am not wrong, some decades ago, women going out to work were also not ‘proper’ and women who worked were branded as ‘loose character’. It was assumed that if they will go out, they will interact with men and this interaction may also be sexual in nature. It was basically a fear. A fear that women would do what men has been socially ascribed to do. This assumption has been fading away to some extent but ‘Loose character’ pertaining to going to pubs or drinking is still there. And the same principle applies here. Women are trying to enter into the ‘man’s domain’. Liberal ideas, drinking, prostitution is a man’s domain. The fear is that of equality. Women are ceasing to be submissive and sub-ordinate to men. They are doing what men do, whether it is ‘morally’ right or wrong. And this is unacceptable to males. Hence, they come up with such notions of “inappropriate” behaviour and clothing. So jeans, which is a symbol of modernism and liberalism, became a target.
Again, the question arises. If going to pubs and drinking means rape then what about the rapes within the domestic sphere? What about rapes in rural areas? In rural areas, women definitely do not go to pubs or drink but they still get raped.
But even if the woman was raped when she was drunk, can rape be justified? She was cheated. So is cheating justified?
The rape victims are also accused of having a ‘loose character’. A common way of defending oneself is to prove a rape victim to be a sex worker. But even if they are sex workers, rape of a sex worker, is rape too! Everybody has a basic human right over her body which means even a sex worker has a choice to decide whom she sleeps with.
The Gurgaon police had come up with the infamous ‘8 PM’ rule? Do women get raped only after 8 PM? If, for a fraction of a second, I accept this then I want to ask, if the police knows that rapists are out only after 8, then why can’t they do anything? Instead of restricting women, they should ban men from going out after 8! What about women who have to be out for work? What about women in call centres? And how can they issue such a notice in a country, which is run by some prominent female politicians? Does this also apply for them? Should the nation stop working after 8 PM because rapists are out and our female politicians under threat too!
A general tendency of the policemen is to prove that the victim knew the accused. What does the police want to prove by this? Even if women knew the accused, she was cheated and then overpowered by him. What was her fault in this? What is the police trying to say? Should a woman stop speaking to men? Because rapists can be anyone – her friend, boyfriend, neighbour, brother or even her father? In date rapes, why is the victim at fault? Is it a crime to have a boyfriend? The woman was clearly cheated by her boyfriend. Isn’t cheating a crime? She had trusted him. So is trust a crime?
What about minor girls even newborns getting raped? What about old women? How do they ‘invite’ rape?
There is no relationship between looks, clothing, behaviour and rape. They are just excuses given by rapists and the police. Rape is seen as a shameful crime but the shame is reserved only for the victim. The woman first gets dishonoured by the rapist and then later, when she dares to report it, by the police, the media and the society.
What is her crime? Daring to go out? Daring to work? Daring to speak? Or daring to be born?