On Sunday evening, a girl gets beaten and raped in a moving bus in Delhi. She then gets thrown off the bus; tossed on the highway like garbage. The girl had to undergo critical surgeries to survive. She is currently, on a ventilator, and can only communicate with her family and the police by writing.
What can we do to wipe out this menace? What does the country really need to eradicate the crime of rape?
Some say we need stricter laws. Let’s take a look at the present laws on rape. Thanks to Bollywood movies, we know rape is a criminal offence under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. Let’s picture a scenario and look closer.
A man rapes a woman. A case is filed. Now, because the law is blind, in a court of law, one would need to provide evidence for a crime. Let’s say the accused man has a history of raping, molesting or harassing women, that history cannot be brought up during the trial. Why? Because Section 54 of the Indian Evidence Act disallows that. What it does allow is for the accused to bring up his past in case he wants to prove his “good character”. However, the same rule would not hold true for the woman. Section 146 and 155(4) of the same Act allow the defense to question the woman about her sexual history. The basis upon which the defense can argue include:
1. The victim is a woman of loose morals.
2. She had previous sexual relations with other people.
So what really is the law suggesting here? A woman who is not a virgin does not have the right to file a complaint against being raped? So do we just need stricter laws or do we need to look at rape in a different way?
Rape is Not Sex
A pair of skinny jeans and a sleeveless blouse do not hypnotize men to rape women. Short skirts are not provoking. What is provoking, however, is rape jokes in movies like 3 idiots. What is provoking is a dancer in an item song, being flocked and touched by men and shown to enjoy the whole thing. Not to forget the lyrics of those songs.
The message: Women enjoy being touched by strangers.
What is provoking is the songs of Honey Singh that the youngsters so love to hear. What does it provoke? It provokes the self-esteem and anger of some people who have somehow managed to remain human in a society with rape culture.
So when people listen to songs like ‘Balatkaari’ or songs with titles that I’m afraid I can’t even write for I’m writing for a college newspaper, when these songs (read noises) and ‘creative artists’ like Honey Singh (a misogynist who seems he cannot get over a breakup after being dumped) are free, out there with their music being played aloud and danced to; if Honey Singh can scream his tonsils out then why is there a need felt by the Censor Board to mute words like ‘condom’ in Hindi movies? Why are cartoonists put behind bars? Why are M.F. Hussain’s paintings banned but not Honey Singh’s songs? Isn’t the Indian society trying to tell us something here? What it is trying to tell us is that you cannot disrespect Gods, but you can disrespect women. Honey Singh probably feels the same impunity that most rapists feel.
I had once read somewhere that most men would rape if they had the opportunity and if they knew for sure that they could get away with it. That pornography is not sex, it is sex inequality turned into sex for the pleasure of men.
Why care about a girl being molested on camera? Why care about those ‘lovely and heart-warming’ remarks that ‘innocent Romeos’ pass on girls at every corner? And why care about a girl being raped and thrown off a bus?
In this particular case we probably care because she is in a critical medical condition. But if she had not been in a critical condition, it is quite possible many would have criticized her decision to go out for an evening movie shows. Maybe the country just pays heed when the act of rape is supplemented by inhuman torture and physical injury. The country cried for Aruna Shanbaug. But what made them cry was the aftermath of rape and not the rape itself.
When rapists and molesters strip a woman in broad daylight and make a video of the girl and of themselves molesting her, what do you see in their faces? Their faces depict a certain kind of power that they seem to derive from the girl’s pain. And then there is a certain kind of smile that their grossly lips curl into. The smile is the pleasure they get by putting somebody else in a helpless situation. That is the moment when those men stop being men; stop being human.
One needs to take a stand. And I don’t mean one should go out on the streets and protest and change the world overnight. But do something that would change the world some day, to take a stand in our own living rooms. When we get furious when we hear a rape story but then also enjoy a rape joke or a rape song, it just makes us look like a bunch of hypocrites.
To reiterate, rape is not sex. And yes, there are bad men out there. Men who think a girl gets up every morning to dress up for them, slips into a skinny pair of jeans for them, wears her hair in a certain way for them, takes a certain road for them, travels in a certain bus for them, and therefore chooses them as their ‘sex’ (rape) partners.
When it comes to rape, there are mainly two types of people. There is a set of people who get outraged by the crime and protest on the streets; while there is another set that stay at home and spend their day tapping their feet to a Honey Singh song.