After all, the rapist is also someone’s son

I never thought I would have anything good to say about Narendra Modi, but I guess I have to. In his first major address he spoke out about rape and violence against women.

In speaking out, Modi challenged citizens and government alike to change the way that rape is thought about. “Today as we hear about the incidents of rapes, our head hangs in shame,” he said in his wide-ranging address. “I want to ask parents when your daughter turns 10 or 12 years old, you ask, ‘Where are you going? When will you return?’ Do the parents dare to ask their sons, ‘Where are you going? Why are you going? Who are your friends?’ After all, the rapist is also someone’s son. If only parents decide to put as many restrictions on their sons as they do on their own daughters.”

Wow. That’s the kind of thing that gets a person branded a “radical feminist” (and not in a good way) around here.

Though only time will tell whether the Modi government acts on the rhetoric seen in his speech, Tanvi Mandan, head of the Brookings Institution’s India Project told ThinkProgress in an email, the fact that they are even being talked about in this way is significant. “This is the first time that a prime minister has spoken about violence against women in this fashion, especially using such a prominent platform – the closest American equivalent of the Indian PM’s independence day speech would be the president’s State of the Union speech,” she wrote.

“Moreover, Mr. Modi spoke of an aspect of this that Indian civil society has helped highlight publicly over the last couple of years – that this is not just a legal issue, but a societal one; not just about having the right laws in place, but also about changing culture,” Madan continued.

That kind of thing. You can’t talk about “culture” over here in the US without getting a hail of obloquy and epithets and assorted insults.

Modi also used his speech to speak out against the practice of Indian family’s selectively aborting females in the woman or abandoning female babies once they’re born. Earlier this week, the Indian government announced that the sex ration among children 0-6 — standing at 927 girl children per 1,000 boys — is the lowest it’s been since India’s independence in 1947.

“Have we seen our sex ratio? Who is creating this imbalance?” Modi asked. “Not God. I appeal to the doctors not to kill the girl child in the mother’s womb. I request the parents not to kill daughters because they want a son. Don’t kill daughters in the womb, it is a blot on 21st century India. I have seen families where one daughter serves parents more than five sons.”

Modi of all people. It’s disorienting.


  1. quixote says

    I know too little about Modi to know why you say “of all people.” He is, I gather, free-market-y in his economics, but I hadn’t heard anything to say he’s otherwise a troglodyte. What have I missed?

    In any case, this is good news indeed. It’ll be a cold day in hell before we see that much social consciousness here. I hope India takes it to heart!

  2. says

    The fact that he’s a big noise in the Hinduist right-wing and that he allegedly played a major role in the Gujarat riots in which a large number of Muslims were massacred.

  3. shash says

    It’s only surprising if think that people are either wholly good or wholly evil, I guess…

    The RSS has always been for the abolition of caste in their own way, though they’re highly divisive in terms of religion. Some other Sangh organizations might be otherwise (Bajrang Dal for example), but not the parent RSS. They’ve always welcomed all castes, and even promoted inter-caste marriages (again, inter-religious is another question altogether). It’s all part of making Hinduism into a monolithic whole, so take it with that caveat.

    The sex ratio thing really embarrasses them a lot, and they’ve been doing some good work in that regard. Especially Gujarat, which has one of the worst in the country. Essentially, nothing new there…

    The new thing is the remarks on rape, and it’s definitely refreshing. This is a pressure that’s been building up in public debate, and if he’s anything, Modi is a good reader of public pressure.

    Now, the real trick would be reining in the khap leaders sitting under a tree and the glorified khap leaders who become chief ministers of states…

  4. says

    Oh, let’s not be silly! We all know that rapists are orphans that have been raised by a pack of wolves…or maybe bears, in some cases. This, obviously, is why it is the responsibility of women to take care of themselves. The rapists are nothing more than amoral, wild animals, because that’s what raised them. /sarcasm

  5. says

    I agree that it’s disorienting for Modi to be the one speaking sense. Sometimes right wing politicians feel free to speak freely on certain issues that left wing politicians dodge. Apparently they feel well-protected on their right flank. The incentives of modern republics can be perverse that way.

  6. dshetty says

    I dont think I read this the same way you are
    If only parents decide to put as many restrictions on their sons as they do on their own daughters.
    It seems to me more of the same old conservative – boys should not meet/speak/go out with girls because then the girls get raped. No valentines day , dress conservatively, etc etc..

  7. John Horstman says

    And Rand Paul has been criticizing the racism of the police state here in USA (not even ‘government is all bad’, but ‘the justice system is racist’ criticism). Is it possible that they’re learning?

  8. shash says

    It seems to me more of the same old conservative – boys should not meet/speak/go out with girls because then the girls get raped. No valentines day , dress conservatively, etc etc..

    Oh, of course! It is the RSS, after all…

    What people are shocked about is that he’s not just blaming the victim. But if you’ve been reading all that’s been going on in India, the national right have consistently been demanding extreme punishments from the beginning. Including and not limited to death for offenders who are minors. The RSS has never been blaming only the women.

    There are really three factions in all this:
    a) the Khap people who essentially blame the victims (and men of the other caste – whatever that may be),
    b) the nationalist right (RSS, VHP, etc) who blame both men and women, and want extreme restrictions on everyone,
    c) the leftists/socialists who want to educate and free (basically, us)


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