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Putting rape in right perspective

A bad theory is as bad as a bad recipe. Or even worse. Recently a young woman from Nagaland, who worked at a mall in Gurgaon, was forced to jump out of a moving car after its driver made an audacious attempt to rape her. Narender S Thakur writes

chandigarh Updated: Nov 02, 2014 18:45 IST
Narender S Thakur

A bad theory is as bad as a bad recipe. Or even worse. Recently a young woman from Nagaland, who worked at a mall in Gurgaon, was forced to jump out of a moving car after its driver made an audacious attempt to rape her.

So many things have been said and written about the ghastly Delhi gang rape of late. There was an outrage all over that we know. From press, streets to Parliament— much was said and talked about in a variety of tenors and expressions.

One writer put it this way: “Because rape, let’s face it, is not about sex. It’s more about assertion than insertion...more about humiliation, domination and the bottom of all, insecurity.” The writer went on to suggest that men would rape because they felt insecure of women.

But I beg to disagree with all those who subscribe to the idea that the primary or underlying reason behind rape is not sexual perversion or lust but something else.

The point here is by looking at a thing like rape in the mere binary of oppression and the oppressed will be tantamount to doing disservice to the understanding of the issue hence and remedial measures for the same.

There is widespread misogyny in our society, we agree. That women are still looked upon as inferior to men in many pockets of our society, we must agree.

Rape is an outcome of a man’s inability to negotiate with his sexual urge. Moreover, it’s his way of thinking that he will commit rape and still get away with it. Therefore, it must be understood in terms of our surroundings, kind of atmosphere we live in and the type of people we are surrounded by.

A writer in her column cited the case of a young call centre female executive in Delhi who was picked from outside her house at 2 am by some people in truck when she was dropped by her office cab and was eventually raped by them in a secluded place somewhere else. She went on to conclude they raped her because she was “an empowered and financially-independent woman” whom they felt so insecure of being illiterates themselves. It was because, she went on to say, women have encroached upon male spaces and the latter felt threatened by it.

It is where our whole argument on the issue seems to have lost direction. The matter of the fact is that those men didn’t even know who that girl was. Is not it outlandish even to suggest that someone feels threatened by a woman just because she is independent — financially and socially— and he goes on to perpetrate a crime like rape on her regardless of the fact he happens to know her not?

The feminist way at looking at a crime like rape in terms of domination/dominant binaries between men and women will be largely unfair an exercise. So many countries around the world have provision of chemical castration as a measure to curb incidents of rape. Things such as chemical castration are tools to diminish or significantly lower a person’s sexual urge or hyper-sexuality, which it is assumed that is a trigger behind rape in general. But if rape is only about “feeling insecure” or “is not about sex” or “more about assertion than insertion”, then why talk about things like chemical castration?

So how come someone feel that she was a potential threat to their roles when did not even know each other? As a matter of fact, it had least to do with what she did or practiced but more about time they felt was convenient for them to commit the crime in the dark.

If “because they make men feel insecure” proposition was true, then it automatically implies that women who are not financially independent or empowered— especially in rural areas— will rarely be rape victims. And then, this would prove what RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat suggested while saying that “rape is an urban phenomenon”. His ignorance on the matter was evident from the fact that most of the incidents in the recent spate of rapes in Haryana were in the state’s least urbanised hinterland.

Then there are so many cases of sodomy which keep occurring every now and then where the victim is himself a male. How shall we put it then?

Governments do not bring cultural revolutions. They cannot reform the people’s attitude nor are they supposed to do. They can work on measures which are rather tangible in nature such as making our public spaces safer, better and efficient policing and instilling the fear of law among the citizens by making the judiciary even more efficient. The policing system in our country needs drastic reformation right from the recruitment, training to the working environment level.

As they say, delivery lies in detail. So will those reforms in policing and judiciary. In that case, we need to put in more efforts to think, suggest and help building better man power and infrastructure for police and judicial systems.