“A cult of masculinity is behind the constant violation of women around the world — that some men brutalize women against their own self-interest because of an addiction to control or domination. Rape is not about sex, rape is about violence, proving ‘masculine’ superiority; often inserting guns and other objects into women’s bodies; playing out hostility to other men by invading the bodies of ‘their’ females, including old women and babies; occupying wombs with sperm of a conquering group; owning female bodies as the means of reproduction; and raping men and boys to make them as inferior as females.” - Gloria Steinem
She is just thirteen years old. She refuses to leave school after classes and is constantly weeping. Isn’t that strange? What is perturbing her? For the last two years, she had been repeatedly raped by her father, brother and two uncles at her home. An incident in Kerala that came to public notice a few days ago, reminded me of a similar incident from the same state where a father not only raped her minor daughter but took money from hundred other men so that they can satiate their carnal desires by raping his daughter. There is hardly any nation or culture which has no instances of rape of minors by fathers or father-like figures. Statistics say, nearly 70% of the child sexual abusers are males, and are close relatives of the victims. Some are known family friends, distant relatives, neighbours. Very few strangers cause rape. Does this not remind you of Jane Smiley’s “A Thousand Acres”? A father who indulged in sexual relation with daughters when they turned 13, and abused them till they turned 16; there is a saying in Hindi – Rakshak bana Bhakshak, protectors turn attackers. How true is that! For women, safety is a luxury, not a right. Indoors, her father will rape her and when you demand security outside the house, the police rape you.
Any incident of rape – whether it is of a young girl, or a minor or some adult woman – is condemnable in the harshest of terms. Even the rape of young boys is deplorable and disgusting. Rapists who commit these heinous acts know fully well that they are committing a crime. With evolution of the human psyche, the definition of rape has also undergone change. There was a time when rape was not considered an offence. Having sexual relations with minors was a social norm. Child-marriage was a part of the culture. Time changed, but does it really? Not long ago, Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize winner poet and philosopher married a 9 year old child. Child marriage is still a huge tradition in Rajasthan. Even the administration has no right when it comes to taking stand against these customs. Actually there is no difference between raping a minor and having consensual sex with them. Curiosity about everything is natural for children, and hence they might even consent to it. But adults are expected to be mature so as not to engage them in sex!
Child pornography is banned in most civilised nations. However, demand for child pornography has a worldwide trend. Children are sexually tortured in such videos, but instead of crying, they are shown to be smiling and enjoying the experience. These child porn instigate men to rape children and derive a devilish pleasure. While Africa leads the pack in child rape, Europe has the saving grace. North America and Asia lag a little behind Africa while in the South American nations, it is almost an epidemic. When will this shame stop?
People who feel sexually attracted to girls aged fourteen years or below, girls who are not even in their puberty, should be considered as psychologically unstable, opined a mental health specialist from Vienna Richard von Krafft-Ebing in 1886. Several psychologists and doctors around the globe supported the views of Krafft-Ebing eversince. There are two kinds of rapists in the world – the first kind loves sexual encounters ONLY with minors. The second kind will rape anyone, child or adult, who is available, what they need is opportunity. They can be cured of their ailment by therapy or punishment. But the child-rapists are too hard to cure. Their psyche has a different make. The only way to treat paedophiles is to bombard them with heavy doses of progesterone hormone to kill their desire to rape children.
“A 12 year-old girl brutally raped and murdered by a gang of hoodlums” – when this headline hit the newsstands, 70% of the population, across religion, region or sect, living in the Indian sub-continent, said the criminals should be chemically castrated. Another 22% opined that they should be hanged. A minor 8% meekly submitted, “What About teh menz?” “Women rape men too, what about that?” or “The fault must have been with the girl, she must’ve provoked those men”. According the lynch-mob mentality castration or hanging is the solution of rapes. But this is hardly the case. Dhanonjoy Chatterjee was hanged for raping and murdering Hetal Parekh in Kolkata. Statistics show, incidents of rapes have not subsided after that. Instead, they have increased manifold.
The truth be told, rapes occur the least in nations which do not have chemical castration or capital punishment. Those nations guarantee gender equality is part of their culture. Women are respected in such countries and not looked down upon. They enjoy freedom and independence and do not require reservation to enter the hallowed portals of law-making bodies. Rapes occur in those countries where women are mere sex-objects, machines of producing children. Women face sexual harassment in nations where they are treated as second-class citizens, where they are considered creatures who should not have any intelligence or education. Such nations have thriving brothels; sex-trafficking is the norm at such places. Sexual abuse, rape, marital rape, domestic violence, honour killing, dowry– these are the tenets of culture of such places where women are not valued.
Rape is not about sex, rape is about violence. Most rapists are not sex-starved, they have sexual partners. Rape is nothing but the inherent desire of a man to prove his masculinity. In the patriarchal society, the penis is worshipped. Rape is just a crowning glory, a feather in the cap, on the barren head of a dickhead. How then, will rapes stop? The easiest answer to this is, when men choose not to rape. When men collectively decide that they will not put the entire race and species to further embarrassment and shame, only then will rape stop.
Paedophiles are mental patients and need to be treated. The rest need to be sent for complete reformation. Find the reason why these men rape minors and work on to address those concerns. The government should also prove that it is not warped in an anti-women mindset. Sexual slavery should be eradicated; child pornography needs to be severely dealt with. Millions of girls are victims of sexual crimes thanks to thriving business of child prostitution and child pornography. The government should drive confidence among people that it cares. Child marriage, dowry system, caste system need to rooted out. Education and financial independence for girls are urgently necessary. Teaching children about women’s rights and freedom is a must. Gender equality must be a part of school curriculum from an early age. Both sexes should be taught to respect everyone’s human rights. Government must ensure that children grow up in an atmosphere of scientific rational not the darkness of superstitions. If the history of rapists is dug out, in most cases it would be evident that they had a troubled childhood. Majority of these rapists were brought up in environments where they learnt violence and torture is the order of the day. Children deserve better. People get indoctrinated with misogyny in patriarchal society. Patriarchal traditions and anti-women social customs need to be unlearned.
To make a nation rape-free, a government needs to be proactive. It requires a lot of work and goodwill to bring about social change. Hanging rapists is an easier way out. The public is happy, and the issues can be buried forever. Governments fool public, and we happily oblige by playing to their tunes. The government does not want the public to awaken, or to demand the right things, for that will spell doom for them; create hurdles for them to stay in power despite inaction. Intelligent people will demand permanent solution, not a temporary one, they will demand action. They will ask for changes that, if implemented, will benefit humanity. If government accepts their demands, how will they get time to divide people on the basis of religion and caste to get votes? How will government rule with the muscle-power of anti-social goons? How will they secure their stay on the corridors of power?
My Bengali article is translated into English by Agnivo Niyogi (@Aagan86)