Why India’s Daughter holds a mirror to our society…

“The victim is as guilty as her rapists,” “She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop. This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so…”
Asaram Bapu (Spiritual Guru)

“…no one commits rape intentionally. It happens by mistake.”
Ramsewak Paikra (Home Minister, Chhattisgarh)

“Women should not venture out with men who are not relatives.”
Abu Azmi (Maharashtra State Chief, Samajwadi Party)

“In the urban culture, where women are out with their boyfriends till late in the night skimpily dressed, rape instances are bound to be higher than in rural areas where women are mostly confined to their homes and are dressed properly,”
Abu Azmi (Maharashtra State Chief, Samajwadi Party)

“Boys and girls… they had differences, and the girl goes and gives a statement that I have been raped. Should rape cases lead to hanging? Boys are boys, they make mistakes.”
Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party Head, former Defence Minister & Chief Minister)

“This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong,”
Babulal Gaur (Home Minister, Madhya Pradesh)

“Many students misuse mobile phones by watching blue films and hearing obscene songs which pollute their mind,”
Binay Bihari (Minister Art, Culture & Youth Affairs, Bihar)

‘“Women should not wear bikinis in beaches ‘for their own safety’, and ‘girls in short skirts visiting pubs’ are against the culture…”
Sudin Dhavalikar (Senior Minister Public Works Department, Goa)

“Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in ‘Bharat’ or the rural areas of the country.”
Mohan Bhagwat (RSS Chief)

“It’s not the state government which is responsible for rapes, in fact in most of the cases its consensual sex.” … In 90 per cent cases, the girls and women initially accompany boys on their own…”
Dharambir Goyat (Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee Member)

“…people must choose between a ‘promiscuous culture’ that allows public kissing, or a city made safe by moral policing.”
Satyapal Singh (Police Commissioner, Bombay)

“Women display their bodies and indulge in various obscene activities. Women are unaware of the kind of message [their actions] generate…”
“Women equally responsible” for crimes against them.
Vibha Rao (Chairperson, Chhattisgarh State Women Commission)

“Rape cases are on a rise in the country because men and women interact with each other more freely now.”
Mamata Banerjee (Chief Minister, West Bengal)

“This western model is alarming. What is happening is we have imbibed the US. We have lost all the values we had in cities…”
Ashok Singhal (VHP Leader)

“We should pay more attention to where our girls are going. Mobile phones should be banned,” We should stop our girls from wearing jeans.”
Ranvir Singh (Khap Panchayat Leader, Haryana)

“These pretty women, dented and painted… Have no contact with ground reality,”
Abhijit Mukherjee (Member of Parliament and son of current Indian President)

“Just because the country attained independence at midnight, is it proper for women moving at midnight?”
Botsa Satyanarayana (Congress Committee President, Andhra Pradesh)

“Rapes are not in the control of the police … Even the villagers from coastal Andhra are wearing salwar-kameez (as against traditional dress). All these things provoke,”
V Dinesh Reddy (Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh)

WTF Is Consensual Rape?

I recently read an article in DNA Analysis saying there was a 43% rise in rape cases in Bombay, in the first six months of this year. However, this increase in rape is not what made my skin crawl but the fact that it went on to say that the Bombay Police claimed the statistic was misleading because “90% of the acts (or rape) have been purely consensual.” Pardon my French but what the fuck is consensual rape – are they suggesting that there are women and children who ask to be raped? And it begs the question of why such a term even exists or is deemed acceptable in our social and legal lexicon?

I immediately scoured the internet to see if this nonsensical and offensive term actually existed anywhere else in the world. Not surprisingly I could not find a single reference, other than five solitary entries on a site called Urban Dictionary – a place where entries can be created by anyone with internet access. Below were the five entries defining consensual rape; created by some clearly sick people:

  1. Upon a messy break-up, one or both parties of a relationship will wish they never had sex with the other person ever, thereby making each lovemaking session that occurred between them known as “consensual rape”.
  2. When both Parties agree upon a role play situation in which one will try to force coitus with the other person. The rapist will try engage in copulation whilst the rapee must defend against the rape .The rape will end once fornication has begun or the rapist gives up and is unable to to force sex.
  3. When two people are on the ground playfighting in positions that looks more like violent sex to anyone nearby.
  4. When, during the act of being raped, the victim offers to cooperate with the rapist. The impending rape becomes a win-win situation due to: 1) the rapist gets some and 2) the victim doesn’t get the full effects of an actually, violent rape.
  5. This occurs when a person attempts to rape another person, but in a turning of the tables, the other person then attempts to rape the first rapist. Resulting in simply angry sex.

It seems the Bombay police department has been consulting these definitions because I could find no other mentions of this term it legal references anywhere in the world. Please note the startlingly similarity in definition provided by DCP Mahesh Patil, spokesperson of the Bombay police, (in the DNA article): “Most of the times, the rape case is filed following an affair that went sour.” That apart, as per the law, we have to arrest the person if he ends up having an affair with a minor and the parents file a complaint. “In all these cases, the act is consensual but we have to arrest the accused on charge of rape.” (Source: “43% rise in rape cases in Mumbai but the police claims more than 90% consensual” – DNA Analysis)

Disturbingly, what the DCP describes in his second sentence, totally writing it off, is known as statutory rape in most parts of the world, and is also considered a criminal offence. It involves having consensual sex with a minor who is below the age of consent; which in most countries is 18 years of age. This law was designed to protect children and minors from sexual abuse, which is a major problem in India.

We can never solve India’s sexual assault epidemic if we allow the use of, and are willing to accept the terms like consensual rape. It means that as a society we are signaling that there are acceptable and non-criminal forms of rape. More worryingly it just re-enforces what many male leaders have been saying on the issue of rape; that women are often at fault or were somehow asking for it. The existence of a term like consensual rape is abhorrent. It is one we must all reject and wipe from our societal vocabulary before we can start to change attitudes. Perhaps, it helps explains why marital rape is still not considered a criminal offense by our courts. The bottom line is that rape is a serious crime (as it should be to lie about being raped) and until we can all agree, the women of India will never be safe.

“Badaun Rape Images” by Nikhil Vaish

Like most people, my reaction to the sharing of those horrific images of two young girls hanging from a tree, all over social media, was one of shock. Not because I recoiled at seeing such a gruesome image, but because I felt it once more violated the dignity of the victims. Granted, taste and dignity seem to have fallen by the wayside in a world where every person with a smartphone and social media account is rushing to share breaking news. Of course’ rarely does anyone check the veracity of the items being shared, check the facts or even stop to think about the impact or repercussions it might have on victims or their families.

There are those who argued that it was acceptable, in the Badaun case, to share the image because it gave voice to a desperate cry for help; one that has gone unheard for too long. That is helped focused media attention on all the nameless, faceless Dalit women who face sexual abuse and rape, can never speak of it and will never be able to go to the police or get justice. So perhaps it was not such a bad thing to share to help break our apathy.

I don’t disagree with waking people up and getting them to take action. I also believe that it will take all of us to speaking out, and the whole nation demanding change before the women of India can feel safe on our streets and in their own home. But I still do not condone the sharing of these images. Not because of the discomfort of having to see them, but for the simple fact that we are saying that our being told that a woman has been raped and killed is no longer enough to shake our apathy. Are we so jaded, so over-stimulated with social media, saturated by tweets and Facebook posts that we need to be shocked to take the issue of rape seriously? Did we need to see images of Jyoti Singh Pandey’s mutilated body (Nirbhaya) to take action and raise our voices in protest?

The fact that a woman has been raped should be enough to cause outrage. That we need to see images of the victims of this horror, in order for us to take any action, says something much more worrying about us.