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Age of Kali – Rape Stories

There has been a lot of bad press about atheists discussing rape. Apparently we call rape a little like the boy who cried wolf. I think it’s bullshit but meh… I don’t care, they are entitled to an opinion. I am Going to do it anyway. The naysayers can go fuck themselves. And yes… Content warning for rape and stories…

If you haven’t heard already, on Sunday evening a 23 year old woman and her friend (male) were travelling home by bus in Delhi.

The exact details are not clear but what occurred was the gang rape and assault of the woman and the beating of her male friend by people on the bus including the driver. This occurred over a series of hours after which she was thrown from the bus along with her friend. Both were in critical condition but stabilised on Tuesday. The five men involved have been remanded in custody.

The protests were so severe against this that they had to be broke up by riot police and water cannon, because Delhi is considered the Rape Capital of India.

With around 600 rapes a year, Delhi may be the rape capital of India but it hides a problem far worse than that. Women are almost guaranteed mistreatment in the North. Many guidebooks explicitly tell western tourists to expect it and to “deal with it” by being loud, obnoxious and kicking up one hell of a fuss. That’s because they have that option, the Indian woman often does not. The north has a terrifyingly misogynistic mindset, a patriarchal society entrenched in male worship. In addition the corruption of Indian politics is legendary and it’s easier to name honest politicians and then declare the rest as corrupt rather than the traditional method of pointing out corruption. There is also the relatively libertarian disdain for the law mainly due to the law’s relative ineffectiveness. There is also a sudden influx of rural migrants who often come from areas where women are treated as “property”.

600 Rapes a year sounds a lot, but it isn’t all that much. Delhi has 16 MILLION people in it. The entire UK has around 50,000 rapes a year and 60 million people in it. Surely 600 (while tragic) is a much lower number until you realise that the rest of the rapes probably aren’t reported. That these men probably did this thinking that they probably wouldn’t get caught. If the UK has an estimated 2 out of 3 rapes go unreported imagine how bad it is in Delhi.

It has polarised the debate in India but it’s a matter of time before it stops being news and things go back to the way things used to be. Women are probably raped at much greater levels than this but never get help due to the attitudes of public, policemen and politicians.

Already the drums of stupidity have begun to beat. Why was she out “so late”. Why was she “dressed like a slut”. Why was she with a “boy”. Why was she out. Movies. Books. Porn. Western Culture.. Everything but “perhaps we have created a culture which treats women like this”.

There are a lot of knee jerk ideas being bandied around ranging from castration to execution. But they are just that. Knee jerk and stupid, they do not address the core of the problem which is a society where nearly every woman has a story about that “one time”.

So I have asked a few Indians I know to tell us their stories. No names are used….

“”It is as if there is a silent conspiracy to keep women scared. We are not safe anywhere, at home, on the streets, on a bus, on the new metro system, nowhere really.”

 

I was in Delhi a few years ago when a drunk man tried to enter my room. He tried to pull off my bedsheets and clothes but ran away after I screamed. When people came, my Landlord said I must have been dreaming. That there could not have been an attack. His mother believed me but said nothing, she told me to go somewhere I felt safe and stayed with me throughout the night.

When I was leaving I saw that man again. He was their cook. This has probably happened before…

 

I joined salsa classes a few years later with a couple of friends. I was about to go to a contest and my partner and some of her friends arrived to pick her up for a competition. While waiting for a taxi we were challenged by a policeman for hanging around with loose women. The policeman then tried to call the parents of the boys (because we are clearly loose women!) to inform them that their sons were hanging around with WOMEN!

When our friends protested and refused, the policeman went up to my landlady and extracted a bribe. He told her that she would be fined for getting into an improper rent agreement with a suspicious woman. (Avi’s Note – It’s a common accusation of running a brothel. I don’t mince words.)

 

A few years ago I was walking home from work when a young man sidled up to me and said something obscene. I told him to shut up and walked faster. He ran after me and started shouting. Eventually after a few minutes he said “I will pour acid on your face the next time you say that” and then he vanished.

I came home and cried, I refused to go out for a few days after that because I was so scared.

 

I was friend travelling with a male friend in an auto-rickshaw and we got waylaid by a group of young boys in a posh neighbourhood a few years ago. They blocked the auto-rickshaw at a crossing, pointed a gun at my friend and shouted abuse at him.

They wanted to instigate him, they said he was going out with a prostitute. My friend kept quiet and apologised. They let us go after robbing us.

 

A man once tried to rub up against me on a metro because I had the audacity to travel on a mixed gender compartment. When it got too much I told him to stop. Then another bystander intervened. The first man then accused the man who stood up for me as being less of a man because he had to stand up for such a shameful girl. This caused the second man to lose his temper (Avi – Hah! Yes because it suddenly became about guy 2′s honour) starting a fight which resulted in the second guy getting hurt badly.

When he was taken off at the next station to a hospital, the rest of the carriage who hadn’t stepped in to stop the first man who sexually assaulted me and instead stared quietly while I tried to fight him off blamed me for what happened.

If I hadn’t been in that compartment I wouldn’t have tempted the first man to abuse me. I should have gone to the women’s compartment and not tempted their young men.

 

Avi – I once took a friend out for a meal at a nice restaurant. On the way back we were stopped by the cops who tried to shake us down for cash. I refused to pay the bribe and they threatened to arrest me for indecency. I told them to do it. They threatened to beat me. I told them to try. But first I need to call my embassy…

The only reason the backed down from harassing me and my friend was the fact I was British. That they couldn’t scare or bribe their way out of an investigation from the embassy.

 

In order to have a solution to this massive problem we need to understand why these assaults occur. Because India doesn’t teach men to respect women. The stand has to be made today, it should have been made decades ago but this is a toxic part of Indian culture. For India to grow it must destroy the culture of misogyny.

Remember. Clothes don’t rape, people do.

Comments

  1. says

    Mixed-gender compartment speaks to me of the same problem in Japan, where their solution to groping and assault on busses and trains for women is to just give them their own car, but not on every train, and only for a specific period of time (coming and going to school and work.) Instead of dealing with the issue of people groping people, they just brush the issue under the rug.

  2. says

    Yup, living in Northern India for 5 months was quite the eye-opener. Hey there, freedom of movement! It really made it clear to me how street harassment serves to exclude women from participating fully in public life and is a potent form of discrimination. Fear of rape and sexual assault is exactly the same thing. Women stay home, because otherwise you’ll be harassed or assaulted.

  3. S Mukherjee says

    I (a woman) grew up in India and when I went to the US for the first time (to a small university town), I was amazed at the complete freedom with which women and girls would walk around on the streets, sit on benches, lie on the grass, etc. It was exhilarating, to be able to run for the bus, hang about near shop windows, etc without a thousand eyes peering at me, or some useless fellow shouting remarks about my body parts.

    Last year I was in Kolkata for two weeks, and in that space of time I read in the newspapers of at least four cases of attempted sexual assault on women on the street. ON THE STREET. You can imagine the audacity of the perpetrators, they clearly don’t expect to get any kind of punishment. My question is — what the hell do Indian parents teach their sons?

  4. says

    Thank you. Thank you for shedding some light on the treatment of women in the north of India. I lived there for 16 months and I am by no means an expert. But when I try to tell people how women are treated there and what is expected of them they don’t believe me. I’ve gotten hate mail when I posted about things on my blog. I didn’t let that stop me because I know better. Before moving to Amritsar I was warned of many of these things. I didn’t fully understand them until I lived there.

    It really pissed me off to hear neighbors talk about the young girl across the road. She was about 13-14 years old and I rarely saw her outside of the house. She was known as the neighborhood slut because….*ghasp* she liked to look out of the window of their home or over the terrace into the street below and boys walked by and called out to her. I went off on the first person I heard that from thinking they were just being ridiculous. Then I kept hearing it over and over. These people really thought she was some kind of harlot for enjoying looking at life going on around her. I met the girl a couple of times. She tutored younger children in English. She was very sweet and humble and I never once saw her in trouble for any kind of disobedience.

    That’s only one example I heard but if I had $1 for ever freaking time I heard a woman called a slut or slutty while I was in India I would be living a lavish lifestyle right now. Northerners are very hard on women. Not their wives or their sisters but every other woman around them. It’s absurd. I shudder to think what kinds of things were said about women that I couldn’t translate. And their sense of what is slutty is very disturbing.

    I’ve always said that it bothered me how women didn’t leave the house after dark except in rare circumstances in Amritsar. They are prisoners in a way. They can’t go out at certain times, can’t go out alone, etc. I don’t have to tell you all these things, you know what I mean. The city isn’t safe nor does it promote female equality. While Delhi is somewhat better, it’s not great there either. So I’m glad that people like you and Indian Home Maker spread the word and tell the world why these things are wrong.

  5. riveira says

    I spent a year in India as an exchange student. I loved it there, but constantly had to deal with sexual harassment – beginning with the plane ride there. A man sat next to me (not his seat) and proceeded to get drunk and hit on me. I was uncomfortable and exhausted, so I decided to go to sleep. I woke up to the man sucking on my fingers. I was terrified (never been anywhere alone before). I cried and asked him to stop. He said okay and then gave me his phone number in case I wanted to hook up later.

    My host sister and I were taking an auto rickshaw to the store one day. When we got out to pay, I noticed the driver looking at us in a strange and intense way. It took me a minute to realize that he was masturbating, with his penis out and in his hands, in the middle of the street. I was horrified, but more worried about my younger host sister, so I sent her away before screaming at the man.

    When I took the sleeper train from the south (where I lived) to Delhi, a man repeatedly rubbed up against me on the train and eventually stuck his hand down my shirt to grab my breast and then gave me a business card with his phone number. (I was more used to the harassment at this point and screamed at him to make him stop)

    On another train, a man sitting across from me kept trying to rub his foot up my inner leg. Every time I moved away, he would keep doing it, rubbing harder and higher each time until I finally kicked him.

    Men who were involved in the organization I was traveling with would offer for me to stay at their houses while they were trying to grope me and stare at my breasts. Apparently they didn’t understand that I was there on a student exchange program, not a sexual exchange program.

    A man i was staying with took a few of us swimming and then repeatedly grabbed me in the pool and pressed me to his crotch – he was a relative of one of my families, so I didn’t feel like I could say anything. I just avoided him the rest of the time we were in that city.

    Men constantly tried to grab me or grope me on the street. They would follow me home when I would walk home from school – like one foot away from me. Sometimes they would find out my phone number and then call when I was alone in the house, getting angry when I didn’t want to go out with them.

    I had a group of male friends (who never harassed me), but because we were friends, people in the neighborhood assumed that I was having sex with all of them. When I would go out with my friends, they would try to arrange it so that I would sit facing away from public view because they didn’t want creepy guys leering at me or talking to me. I thought this was ridiculous and unnecessary and would argue with them about it until I realized they were right. They worried so much about me getting sexually harassed that they would accompany me any time I went to a festival, market, or the more crowded areas of the city to make sure I was safe – even when it was something they found distasteful.

    In spite of all this, I loved the time I spent in India and the majority of the men I meant were nice and safe people to be around, but I am reluctant to go back without my husband because I know that if I have a man with me, I’ll be safer when I go out.

  6. says

    The fundamental problem in India is that women really don’t have a choice for their weddings. The stupid conservative society treats them like family property. They had to be married off before they are old and capable of taking their old decisions, they had to be married off to somebody from the same caste and income-class.

    When women aren’t recognized to have a choice and a free-will, automatically this makes the men to believe they can do whatever and still get the girl. For the average Indian male, there is no decorum and no subtlety in flirting. It is about rubbing against women, groping them and masturbating. No wonder most of these men end up having pathetic sexual lives.

    Indian men are more likely to rape because of this social conditioning. It is not just psychopaths and pathologically ill rapists who commit the crime. Many normal men do this, and often to close-friends and family relations who are trusting of them, because they think they are within their rights to do so.

    The rape and harassment of women is a matter of national shame. It is a shame primarily to the Indian man, but also to the Indian parents (both mother and father) who raise their boys to such pathetic losers.

  7. Sayantan says

    Hi,
    I found that we all are talking about BAD men. I could not stop myself from writing this. Please read when one has some free time and of course let me know if I am wrong. My writing skills are not at its best and I apologize for the same. I have tried my best to portray the thoughts that peeped up in my Mind in an understandable manner.

    1. I found that we all are talking about BAD men. I believe no one can deny that there are women who are equally bad. Man are made (both Physically and Psychologically) in such a manner that they are capable of committing a crime like rape. Did any one hear of a Woman raping a Man ? I at least never heard in India. About Women provoking Men? Yes, I/every man have seen/known many and also are victim ourselves several times in Local Buses, Trains and in neighborhood. Many times in buses and trains I told Amma/Behenji (Amma – Mother, Behenji – Sister this is how we Indians usually refer a woman)
    please give some space. Everyone is aware that Vivekananda started his speech in Chicago as : “Sisters and Brothers of America”. Question is what is going wrong with Indian Men? Physically they were always the same. What about the psychic ? Why should a group of man (all Men are not rapists) become so bad that they should go and rape and insult women? We forgot the basics? In our country Women were always placed at the TOP. Mother, wife and daughter are given much more respect. We pray to many Goddesses Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Mother Gayatri… and so on in different forms. Even in this age
    there are many Men who are very good. What makes them Good ?

    2. All these Rapists/assaulter/insulter are UN-Married Men ? I really don’t have the answer. Does a Mother,a Father, a Sister,a Wife, a Brother and the society as a whole helps in building the character of a Man? Why does a man not have fear of being caught/jailed after a crime ? Why people in India are so much afraid to go to Court or Police Station? When a beggar asks for alms most of us give a one rupee coin with out a second thought. But in the recent Delhi Rape Case people were hesitating to help those two who were tortured brutally and were thrown off the bus . Where are the good Samaritans?

    3. Impact of Movie: What do we see in English movies ? Love, Sex, Nice clothes, action, a nice story.
    One will see the same in Indian movies too. How many among us learns about the subject of the movie? Instead what we take away from the Actors and Actresses ? When I joined college I was astonished to see students falling in Love and indulging in sex in just a month or two. I used to wonder what Love is. It took more than 4 years for me to understand that I am in love with some one and it took 2 more years to get married. Now we have a daughter. I am not denying about Love at first sight that often happens in Indian movies. But to tell the truth none of those quick lovers of my college got married to each other. They all got separated faster than our college days. They even used to fight with each other. Men always get into fights
    when girls are involved. e.g 2/3/more boys liking one girl. One girl even having a boy friend provoking other boys by indications. All those that happens in movies happened in front of my eyes. Cricket stamps, Hockey sticks, Bottles and what not. I just still wonder they learn t from movies or movies were made seeing this nature of human being. Do the movie makers make movies so that people can learn and imitate from them? or they want to show the devastating effects of such incidents? I myself took up smoking after getting influenced by movies. I smoked for almost ten years and in mid 2011 with very difficulties I have quit the habit of smoking. In middle movie makers were not supposed to show smoking scenes but now what happened ? They show the scene of smoking giving a warning message at the bottom. Can any one tell how a teenager can forgo the scene and concentrate on the scrolls at bottom and not get influenced ? Is this not the time to retrospect and understand the evils of our society ?
    Note: I am not against movies. I am a big fan instead and I watch almost every movie.

    4. Sex : We all know that India was always active sexually since very early years. Who doesn’t know about Kamasutra. But we Indians never make love/Kiss in public. What about Chastity ? How much important is virginity before marriage for both men or women these days in India? I really don’t have answer to these questions. But when I talk to my younger group (only men) I don’t think they really give any importance to all these. All replied : that age is gone and now getting married to a virgin girl depends solely on luck. They say wife should be loyal after marriage thats the minimum they expect. By telling all these what I am trying to tell is: the thought process of every generation changes. We all have to accept this change rather we all are part of this change. I don’t know about girls thoughts of getting married to a virgin man. As in India I am not supposed to talk about sex apart from spouse.
    Note : One thing that I would like to make clear here is I am not against Kissing in public in some countries. I am just trying to tell that we Indians don’t do it. We all know that culture(some times rules) differ from country to country.

    5.Sweet homes are turning bitter : Apart from Rape there is one more serious issue that is eating our society and its divorce which means UN-rest at home. In the earlier days of Indian history there was no such concept at all. Now why many marriages fail? Do you think if a man grows in a very good and serene home his chances of committing a crime increases? Of course NOT the chances can decrease but can never increase. In every one’s mind there is a concept of ‘Sweet Home’. How much small the house or income of the family can be but still human can strive to make their home a ‘sweet one’. A man/women belonging to any part of this world will always want a ‘Sweet Home’. Men, women and children in the house are sweet not that the walls and floors are made of candies.

    6. Education: I believe proper education is the key to all my above doubts. I am talking about the Education that starts since birth. How many would say that passing a school, getting a degree or a post graduate means true education? Are the rapists educated ? Do you think that an educated men/women can commit a heinous crime ? How many Indians read the Books of Vivekananda and tried to understand his teachings ? I am not telling to read and understand Vedas and Vedanta s even I did not read them. I found that Vivekananda has explained many of the complexes in much simpler ways in his speeches. And above all
    his speeches were based on modern facts. Why not consider this knowledge while educating our little ones.
    Charity begins at home. I have decided to do so. I think every one will believe that no religion says that chastity is UN-important? We have to teach our little ones both a boy or a girl that there is something called self control and the decision of becoming good or bad. I strongly believe that all the existing religious books or books that ever existed never told human to become UN-chaste and behave like demons. Every religion teaches to love each other and passes the message of tolerance. The Question is how much of it is being followed ? There is a huge difference from reading a book preaching a book and following a book. If we do not know how to implement the gained knowledge then whats the benefit of gaining such knowledge?

    Note: Here I am not trying to preach Hinduism. I am just saying that all the religious books in earth tell human being to be GOOD.

    Vivekananda’s speech can be found in :
    http://www.belurmath.org/swamivivekananda.htm click on ‘The complete works of Swami Vivekananda’ . There will be a drop down list and you can select the Volumes. Please go ahead chronologically. Read at least the Chicago speech. Take 5 minutes of your time and read in multiple days. You may stop reading further if you do not want to.

    Please understand that I am not a member of the above organization. When I was searching speech of Vivekananda in Google I found this site.

    One last thing that I would like to say is honesty is no more a pride in India. We are now hankering for quick money earned by any means. But our culture always said its not the money but the means that’s important. But our ears are deaf now but I am hopeful that they will open again.

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