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Rape Culture

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Submitted By priyamgarg
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Over the last few decades, the recurring rape cases in India has emerged rapidly. Every day as I open the newspaper, turn to news channels on televisions or open news sites such as those of Times Of India or The Hindu or DNA, I always dread reading that piece of article which again and again stops me from stepping out of my house undeterred by the dangers of the city and the country I live in.
Rape culture as a concept is not easily defined. We can maybe explain it as a high amount of occurrence of rapes which condones physical and emotional violence and torture against women as the norm. Rape culture results in creating a belief amongst men and women that sexual violence is a fact of life and that the only way to curb this menace is by “controlling women”. We see it in the way that most members of society have begin to accept it as “just the way things are”. Rape culture is when all activities in a society are carried out in a manner which accepts hegemonic masculinity.
“Hegemonic Masculinity”– according to Wikipedia- refers to a belief in the existence of a culturally normative ideal of male behavior. It is said to be marked by a tendency for the male to dominate other males and subordinate females.
I would like to approach the topic of “rape culture” in our society by first talking about the basic freedom and rights the women in our society, and in fact, all citizens are provided by our constitution. Though we all have equal rights and the freedom to exercise these rights, in practice we generally only see the men using these freely, while women still do not feel secure enough to make use of the same. A woman can protect her right to life and liberty, but not her body, within her marriage, which is just ironical.
Let’s take the example of the freedom of women in public spaces as it has been explained in a beautiful and shrewd manner in the book Why Loiter co-authored by Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade and Sameera Khan. We often see men standing by the roadside or sitting at a bus stop or lingering outside a paan shop, just chatting or many a times just sitting around. When I talk about this group I refer to not just the lower working class men but also men of the lower and upper middle class. We don’t find anything odd in this, do we? Of course not. However, if we see women of the same class and strata standing on the roadside or just sitting at a bus stop with no real intention of going anywhere but just chatting with friends, it is seen as something out of ordinary or simply odd. Moreover, this thought is accompanied by an assumption that such women have questionable or loose morals.
They are constantly told – what to do, where to go, how to go, what to wear, when to go and the list goes on. And the same goes for what not to do, where not to go and what not to wear.
Clothes are very important. What and what not to wear is associated directly with a woman’s character. The first question that is asked when one hears of a rape is “What was she wearing?” Once a girl hits puberty, she is supposed to wear clothing that covers her chest, like a dupatta, and if she fails to do so she is automatically branded as shameless.
Women are expected to step out of their houses only if they have some work or a purpose and that’s it otherwise the public space is for men and a woman’s position is within the four walls of the house (though the safety of those four walls is highly questionable and sometimes more dangerous than the outside). If she wants to step out for no good reason then she does so at her own risk. If she doesn’t have any work outside, she must stay inside and go about her womanly duties, like, cooking, cleaning, washing and raising children. It is seen as the core responsibility of the woman to bring up the children. Even when both the man and woman are working, at the time of a crisis – if the child is unwell, there is a function at home, in-laws are unwell, her own parents are unwell- it comes upon the woman to leave her job and take care of the family.
“Rape culture”, as a concept, takes a shape as it accepts the submission of women to men. So much so that men feel that they have complete control over, not just women’s actions, but also over their bodies.
It is for some an expression of their masculinity--forcing themselves on to women. A male ego is terribly insulted if a woman says ‘NO!”. Women were and are viewed as sex objects and “male gaze” as a concept has been the subject of many works of literature, sometimes celebrating it, sometimes condemning it but always objectifying women.
A simplified definition of rape (in my words) is the occurrence of sexual intercourse between 2 individuals wherein one party is unwillingly forced to participate. There is a common perception that once a woman is married, she should be available to her husband for sex whenever he wants, whether she wants it or not. Hence a woman could be raped by her husband. Nor could a sex worker be raped.
Under the section 498A in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 women have received some relief. According to this section “Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.-- whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine”. This, however does not include forced sexual intercourse expressly. The very core of our laws and constitution demands a change.
The recent rape cases in Delhi, has earned it the name “The rape city”. Mumbai and many other cities are being considered safer than Delhi. Almost every newspaper has come out with lists based on the “safeness” of the various major cities of India. This is the “rape culture” we talk about. Is it a competition between cities? Or is the matter about woman’s safety, her dignity and sexual freedom? The issue of rape is related to the mindset of the society. Instead of taking out articles on “How women can avoid getting raped?” we need to start analyzing ways as to stop men from raping women. Prevention is necessary, no doubt, but a solution is the need of the hour.
It is about giving women their rights as human. What is the purpose of women’s rights if they cannot exercise them? Something interesting that I read in a blog post titled “This is Rape Culture” a few days ago gave me greater insight into the scope of this phenomenon.
She said that, if a women is cat-called on the street, then by telling her to forget about it and just “take it as a compliment”, is a way of perpetuating rape culture.
If a girl is taken advantage of after she has had one too many drinks, then by blaming her for not being careful and saying that “she was asking for it” as she was wearing a short skirt is also a way of perpetuating rape culture. How a woman presents herself, how she chooses to dress, the time she decides to roam the streets or how she likes her drink, is not an invitation to grope or rape her
So we keep seeing that the burden of rape prevention is now falling on women: you must keep an eye on your drink, you must not dress provocatively, you must take self defense classes and you should have a defense strategy to reach back home every day before it gets dark and the streets get dangerous.
What are your wearing? Why is that shirt so tight? Why are you wearing that short skirt, Change it immediately. Why are you showing your legs? Why are you going out with boys? Why are going out so late? These are only some of the questions that women have to answer and deal with everyday.
It never so happens that the burden of preventing rape falls on the perpetrator than on the victim. Why not teach men to not rape than hand the women the weapon to defend herself.
A few excerpts from the leading newspapers of India
The Delhi gang rape case committed on the night of 16th December 2012. A 23-year old female and her male friend were returning back home after watching a film. They boarded a bus being driven by the attackers. The male friend was beaten up and the woman was raped.
In another incident a five-year-old girl was raped and murdered near a temple looking for her father and was raped by an unknown man. -The Times Of India
Two women bonded labourers from a brick kiln were allegedly raped by three men for nearly six months, for pleading for their release. During this period, they alleged that they were tortured and stripped. -The Hindu
A 26 year-old married woman, who works as a maid in New Friends Colony, alleged that she was gang-raped by three young men. The three men, who also worked in the same premises as drivers and other helps, forced themselves upon her. -The Hindu
Were they asking for it? Was Nirbhaya, the 23-year-old asking to be raped when returning home with a friend after watching a movie? Or was the small girl waiting for her father next to the temple asking the man in any way to rape her? The women labourers were raped, why? Why did they deserve it?
The various rape cases which have come to light have shown us time and again how helpless the women were when attacked and it was never their fault.
When police stations are approached with the hope of protection, they are insensitive to the issue and women are harassed further by the policemen sometimes even raped by them.
Once, the approach of policemen to the rape victims was so horrible that one victim was put behind bars for 20 hours and the other was beaten up by a woman constable on the orders of a sub-inspector. -The Hindu
The father( of the 5 year old rape victim) said that when the family finally found the girl Wednesday, the police told the family to not highlight the issue, and offered them Rs.2000 to keep mum. -The New Indian Express
The police officers abusing the victim themselves were women. The officers responded by putting the victimized girl into jail. -The Indian Express
The failure of the police in providing protection to the victims of these horrific incidents deters people from coming up and has actually made them wary of approaching the police unless the case has been too serious.
The fear of the public spaces is also increasing day by day. Girls need to be back before the sun sets. The fear of the opposite sex is also increasing. The society can no longer trust men they are unknown or even known to. Girls are constantly told by their mothers to keep a distance from their father, brother, uncles, grandfathers. They are constantly being warned that they may just be raped by their own family men and so if anything happens they must inform them immediately.
The act of sex, when consensual, is supposed to be a beautiful thing between two individual. But, because of such heinous acts of sexual aggression it has been reduced in the minds of women as something dirty and to be wary of.

REFERENCE LIST

• Anon., 2013. Focus: ‘Shocker: 10-year-old rape victim put behind bars’. The Indian Express [online] 9April. Available at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/shocker-10yearold-rape-victim-put-behind-bars/1099406/ [Accessed 29 April 2013]
• Balaji, J., 2013. Focus: ‘NHRC appalled at police insensitivity to rape victims’. The Hindu [online] 25 April. Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/nhrc-appalled-at-police-insensitivity-to-rape-victims/article4652241.ece [Accessed 29April 2013]
• IANS, 2013. Focus: ‘Police offered me bribe, says five-year-old rape victim’s father’. The New Indian Express [online] 19 April. Available at: http://newindianexpress.com/nation/Police-offered-me-bribe-says-five-year-old-rape-victims-father/2013/04/19/article1552318.ece [Accessed 29April 2013]
• India Law Journal, 2007. Marital Rape and the Indian legal scenario. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2013].
• Indian Kanoon, [unknown year]. Section 375 in the Indian Penal Code, 1860. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2013].
• Mandhana, N. and Trivedi, A., 2012. Focus: ‘Indians Outraged over Rape on Moving Bus in New Delhi’. India Ink., [online] 18 December. Available at: http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/outrage-in-delhi-after-latest-gang-rape-case/ [Accessed 28 April 2013]
• Staff Reporter, 2013. Focus: ‘Brick kiln bonded labourers allege gang-rape’. The Hindu, [online] 28 April. Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/brick-kiln-bonded-labourers-allege-gangrape/article4662080.ece [Accessed 29April 2013]
• Staff Reporter, 2013. Focus: ‘Married woman alleges gang-rape’. The Hindu, [online] 28 April. Available at:http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/married-woman-alleges-gangrape/article4662299.ece [Accessed 29April 2013]
• TNN, 2013. Focus: ‘5-year-old raped, killed in Tripura’. The Times of India, [online] 28 April. Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/5-year-old-raped-killed-in-Tripura/articleshow/19764994.cms [Accessed 29April 2013]

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Acquaintance Rape

...The Impact of Acquaintance Rape for Female College Students Word Count: 3,027 Abstract Acquaintance rape, commonly referred to as "date rape," is sweeping across college campuses throughout the United States. Described as nonconsensual sexual contact achieved by force, manipulation or coercion between two people who know each other, it is a form of sexual violence that had been given little attention prior to the 1980’s. Recent studies indicate that one in four female college students will be the victim of acquaintance rape at some time during four years of college making it the fastest growing crime against females in college institutions. However, because there are widespread false impressions among all college students that acquaintance rape does not exist, is not “really rape” or is not a serious crime, many believe that it is not as traumatic to the victim as rape by someone unknown to them. These erroneous beliefs often leave the victims of acquaintance rape more devastated than the rape action itself. The purpose of this paper is to examine the facts surrounding female acquaintance rape on college campuses and the role that crisis intervention techniques play in the recovery from an experience that many experts describe as crippling. The Impact of Acquaintance Rape for Female College Students Every two minutes someone in the United States is raped, and the chance of the victim being a female college student is four times greater than that of any...

Words: 4154 - Pages: 17