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.