How does an average Indian define Rape, Child Abuse and Consensual Sex?

Do we see rape as a serious crime or do we say ‘rape’ when we mean to say ‘sex’? How does an average Indian define Rape, Child Abuse and Consensual Sex? Do we know the difference? How would you define each of these?

Do we look at ‘balatkaar‘ (rape) the way ‘Three Idiots’ did?

Do we view  consensual sex by women as immoral and ‘balatkaar‘ (rape) as something to laugh about?

Here’s the ‘Three Idiots’ video with English subtitles. Did they intend to use ‘sex’ but found balaatkaar rhymed and ‘sex’ would have been censored?

And why do you think is this young rape victim being married to someone she reported raped her?  Does the news report sound unbiased?

However, a source said the two had gone to Forum Mall to watch a movie on Sunday.“They did not get tickets and returned to Chandru’s room. She stayed back there after which the “incident” happened. When she returned home on Monday, her father asked her where she had gone. The girl told him Chandru had taken her to his room and raped her.The father took her to the police station where she filed a rape case,” the source said, adding that the parents later decided to get them married. [Boy accused of raping friend, arrested]

 

*   *   *

Meanwhile Mamata Bannerjee accused the media of seeking to glorify rapes. [link] How can a rape be ‘glorified’?

I think more rapes are being reported by victims, because now media (and society) is less biased against victims than ever before in Indian history. And for the first time, Victim-Blaming is being challenged.

Indian never ‘glorified’ rape in the past, we made jokes about it or drove the victims to suicide.

Here’s how we can continue to Control Rapes without seeking to ‘Glorifying’ Rapes. 

1. Treat silence as golden. Deny sexual crimes exist.

Make it difficult for victims to report. No reports, no records.  Question, blame, shame, name, delay and judge. Throw out of schools.

Use the power of Stigma to achieve Silence of the victims.

2. Don’t treat sex-without-consent as a Sexual Assault.  But treat any suspicion of sex between consenting adults as a crime punishable by criminal assaults by gangs of inebriated rapists or vigilante groups. Or punish rapists by marrying them to the victims.

3. Allow rapists (and their advocates) to make rules about what can be construed as Consent-to-be-raped. 

E.g. A rapist who has been away from family has consent. A woman who has had sex before has consented.

Related Posts:

Sexual abuse victim thrown out of school for being a bad influence on other students.

Let’s wipe that smile off his face. (Victim Ruchika Girhotra thrown out of school)

Haryana: School says rape victim, sisters left voluntarily. (IBN Live)

80 thoughts on “How does an average Indian define Rape, Child Abuse and Consensual Sex?

  1. Something about the Chandru rape accusation doesn’t add up. Unless they can come up with more details on the case, I wouldn’t be as hasty to call it a rape. It *could* be a case of consensual sex, with the father levelling a rape case to pressure the guy to marry his daughter for ‘defiling’ her.

    • It’s possible that they define consensual sex outside marriage as Rape, but it’s also possible that this was rape. The report makes it sound like the girl willingly stayed back and then father questioned where she had gone. Like you, I too would like to know more.

  2. And given how the police are reluctant to register genuine rape cases and arrest the accused, I also have a suspicion that in this case, the police is hand-in-gloves with the father. Perhaps paid off. Hence their response, which is a little too prompt by mainland Indian police standards.

  3. Could be consensual. That is an inherent problem with virginity being given too much weightage in such cases. But by and large there is a tendency to sweep rape cases under the carpet, or twist the facts in them

  4. I think highlighting sexual assaults in the media is a good thing but it also allows attention seekers to make moronic statements like chowmein causes an increase in libido/rape. Also, the motives of the media owners in reporting rapes and other sexual assaults is not clear. I think they often do so to increase their readership/viewership.

    Most people view this scene from ’3 idiots’ as funny and harmless. Sometimes jokes are mean and rude.

  5. Now you see .. how do u know if it was rape or consensual.. the boy will say consensual and the girl is saying its rape.. what is the truth…

    and I don’t get the title too average Indian.. what defines a average Indian..

    how is the movie scene relevant, I don’t get that either that was a comic scene, I don’t see any problems with it , you should see some stand up comedy here in uk,

    also even though i dont like that banerjee, yet she is right MEDIA does glorify and by glorifying I mean they have no sense how to report , look at the Guwahati case .. was that not glorifying what happened to the poor girl.. Such cases are to be treated with DIGNITY and RESPECT and yes in some cases you need to keep it quiter too.. what was the Average indian doing there at that time .. oh yes watching the REAL movie in action ..

    Look it is a rule both parties are out there to save their KIN.. they will do anything to save them.. and beleive me majority of the people who comment here and Say such high level things INCLUDING ME.. would always react to save their KIN.. exceptions are their.. but exceptions dont make Average indian.

    We need to look into ourself what would we do if it was our family member .. and then after thinking about it .. GIVE IT ANOTHER THOUGHT.. cause Reel life and REAL life are two different things.

    I see it day in and day out.. what people say is NOT what people do. every situation has two sides, we have to learn how to see both of them and then act on it ..

    ps. the capitals are to highlight a point , I am not shouting..

    • Now you see what???????
      I totally get the tittle and many many more do get it too.
      A country where henious crimes like rapes are hidden behind victims necklines/hemlines such humor cannot be appreciated.Once our women are as free and safe,as women in UK/US, no one will have problem with such jokes.
      “Media glorifies rape” Seriously!!!! Media honors rape(glorifies would mean that…..right!!!!!)glorify cannot mean media has no sense of reporting(though I would totally agree media is not sensitive),we cannot change the english dictionary!!!
      “……… what was the Average indian doing there at that time .. oh yes watching the REAL movie in action ……”so you do get what an average Indian means!!!!and that is why we need thousands and thousands of posts like these to change out social conditioning……to fight this evil…….
      “Look it is a rule……”Are you not the same guy who said your mother would beat you black and blue and your father would shoot you if they were to hear you did any such thing!!!!!!!!!!regardless…….that’s why we need a strict law,honest execution,overhauling of the society/administration….and most of all……understand the abbhorrence of the crime and shift the focus from victim to the culprit and CULPRIT PROTECTION…………and that is why people are trying to do their bit in their own way at their own level……example-.taking time out to write such posts over and over and over……….
      And you don’t save a rape victim……you get them justice by
      lawfully punishing the culprit!!!!!!!hiding and seeking family protection is what culprit should be doing,unfortunately in our country the victim has to resort to it……………

    • @Bikramjit.
      Now you see what???????
      I totally get the title and many many more do get it too.
      A country where henious crimes like rape are hidden behind victims neckline/hemlines such humor is not tastefully……..once our women are as free and safe as women in UK/US ,may be we will appreciate such jokes!!!!!
      Media glorifies rape!!!!Seriously!!!!Media honors rape!!!!!!Honor,that’s what glorify mean!!!!!!!! “I mean they have no sense how to report”(agree our media is not sensitive)but we can’t change the English dictionary!!!!!!!!
      “. what was the Average indian doing there at that time .. oh yes watching the REAL movie in action ..”so you do understand what an average Indian means!!and exactly that’s why we need posts like these to do their bit in changing the societal conditioning and sensitivity………
      “Look it is the rule………”are you not the same guy who said “my mother would beat me black and blue and my fater would shoot me if they ever hear that I did such a thing”……!!!!!!!!!!Regardless……..that’s why we need strict law/system/administration and a society sensitive to the crime!!!!!
      And that’s why we need to do our bit to create that awareness and fight the wrong approach,in our own little or big ways…….and that’s exactly what these posts over and over and over,do.
      And you don’t save a rape victim……you get them justice!!!!!
      “Exceptions don’t make average Indian…….”and that is what the whole point is…..to change the perception ,sensitivity and understanding of the average Indian to see the wrong as wrong…………..

      • I seriously don’t have a clue what you trying to say here.. so kindly say what you saying.. I am much below the average Indian.. so kindly do explain.

        Yes I am the same one who said my parents Wwould beat the craps out of me or even shoot me.. how am I contradicting that please do tell..

        No I don’t understand what is average or who is average Indian.

        This is the biggest problem we love to talk. And find issues where they don’t exist I still don’t understand what is the relevance of the movie.. did you not see it.. did you stop people you know to see them… if you feel so bad about the scene maybe you should stop at least those you know ..

        You get justice to a rape victim by going to Indian media.. have you ever talked to a rape victim, do you even know what they want. Ask me I will tell you what the ones I dealt with say…

      • @B :-

        you asked @Bikramjit. Now you see what???????

        Here is the Reply kindly have a read :- “Now you see .. how do you know if it was rape or consensual.. the boy will say consensual and the girl is saying its rape.. what is the truth…”

    • I too see day in and day out that what people say is not what they do. But you know what? That does not in any way affect the way I behave. I say and do the same things. My first reaction would never be to save kin, but to find the truth before I open my mouth. One tiny voice, I know. But guess what? It is better than no voice at all.

      • Shail mam :- You are a gem of a person and I am glad i know you, the problem is there are very few people who do what they say, if we all start to do what we say India our great nation will be a beautiful place.

        Yes it is better to have a voice for sure , no second thoughts .. all these small voices when they speak at same time will become a ROAR..

        you wont save the kin but HAND on your heart Tell me how many out of 100 will do that .. 1 or 2 or 10 at most ..

        I have never in my life thought big or less of anyone who does what they do, none of my business .. My business is what I do.. and I do what I do.. No one has and NO one can change that, but it sure angers me when people have nothing but One agenda on their hands when speaking on social media’s or to show others what they do inside their own homes , behind closed doors is completely opposite..

      • StarlitWishes:-
        I did not say JOKE on RAPE (please revert back to the comment , give it a thorough read).. I said if that scene offended then you shud listen to the jokes made by comedians but they are taken as a JOKE. this is exactly what i mean you have put 2 and 2 together making it 5 without even reading what i have written, I shall copy paste it below.. Thank you.

        “how is the movie scene relevant, I don’t get that either that was a comic scene, I don’t see any problems with it , you should see some stand up comedy here in uk,”

        I said that scene in the movie was a comedy and it shud be taken in that light.. on the other side Did you watch the movie.. did you feel offended by it , if yes Then did you stop a single person watching it for that reason..

        • @Bikramjit, I realize you did not say jokes about rape, and I didn’t mean to imply that you did, which is why I said I didn’t really understand you had meant.

          But I don’t think that scene in 3 Idiots was a joke, and yes I have watched the movie, once, and was very offended, and refuse to watch it again. Admittedly, Hindi is not my first (or second, or third) language, but I went by the general meaning of ‘balatkar’ that I DID know, and I WAS offended by the scene.

          And I always tell anyone who asks me why I can’t watch that movie about this. And most people tell me I’m too sensitive and that it was supposed to be a comic scene. I don’t find it funny in the least. BUT, I would never attempt to stop others from watching the movie! They are well within their rights to watch it. It’s a good movie otherwise. And I have no right to stop them from watching it. All I will continue to do is not watch it myself, and explain my point of view.

        • but then isn’t this what everyone does, we want the world to change but not do anything , just you not watching the movie is not going to stop people who make these movies stop or think.

          but yeah if hundreds got together they will have to change their mindset.

        • “but then isn’t this what everyone does, we want the world to change but not do anything , just you not watching the movie is not going to stop people who make these movies stop or think.”

          I don’t agree. I believe that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that it exists, that something is wrong, which involves talking about it. And so, when I refuse to watch the movie, and try to explain my reasoning, it leads to a discussion of the problem, and while it may not change everyone’s mind, or stop them from watching the movie, it will lead to awareness.

          “but yeah if hundreds got together they will have to change their mindset.”
          Of course, and that’s the point. But, what would be the point of these hundreds being there because they are forced to be there (as you asked me if I stopped anyone from watching the movie)? Isn’t it more useful if 1, 2, 3, X number of us, who do believe something is wrong, and are offended by that scene, raise others’ awareness about it, and then let them decide for themselves? If anything, IHM’s post serves as proof of this, because aren’t we here discussing this? I used to think I was alone in being offended by this scene; turns out I’m not.

  6. This is in reference to the scene from ’3 Idiots’ mentioned above. I’ve spoken to many men who feel that women take things too seriously. Mind you, these men have never partaken and never will partake in any kind of misogynist behaviour but they do think jokes are jokes and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Their thought process may be different because they have never been a victim of sexual assault or because their brains work differently. I don’t know. But sometimes I do think we should lighten up. Not all jokes about rape are offensive. A joke about rape can only work if rape victims are NOT the butt of the joke but the misogynistic behaviour is. For instance, this Borat joke
    “In Kazakhistan the favorite hobbies are disco dancing, archery, rape and table tennis”. Here Sasha Baron Cohan is making fun of the Kazakhistan and the misogynist men living there. this works and women shouldn’t be offended.

        • I guess so. Since these men have themselves not been a victim of any kind of sexual abuse, it is hard for them to empathize with those who have. They may sympathize but they cannot empathize. They think a joke is a joke, that’s it.

        • You, and several other people in this thread assume that men cannot have experienced sexual assault or rape. This assumption is false, and hurtful. Men who are victims of sexual abuse are already marginalized and made invisible, I expect better from the readers of this blog.

          I don’t want to to turn this into a discussion about sexually abused men, I just wanted to point out that it is perfectly possible that men who participate in discussion (or jokes) about rape, where in fact sexually abused themselves.

  7. Nobody yet attempted to give their definition of rape. Give it a try ! It’s surprisingly hard !

    Here’s my try:

    If someone by violence, or threathening behaviour induces someone to have sex, either with the agressor, with another person, or with an object, then that person is guilty of rape.

    • I agree, it is not an easy definition. How would you define sex- penetration (of …) / touching (of …)?

      I wonder if “consent obtained by deception” should be added to violence / threatening behavior. Or is that opening a can of worms? If a guy says, “by putting this garland on each other we are married and can have sex” and if the girl would never have consented without marriage. Is that rape or a case of cheating? If that is rape, what if a couple have sex with intention of marriage later, but one of them falls out of love and refuse to marry?

      • I’ve heard this argument before and I don’t think ‘deceptive’ behavior or falling out of love and refusing to marry is rape. Because at the time the sex was consensual. Yes, it’s not a very nice thing if one person lies to another to have sex, but that is definitely not rape. And I don’t think there’s any legal grounds you could sue the liar on either, because there would be no actual contract or anything.

  8. Can a person, who had an arranged / forced marriage with hardly any interaction before marriage, who had sex on the first night, understand what consensual sex with a person you love means? Can such a person ever imagine the sharing, respect, trust and feelings that is involved in consensual sex between lovers? Essentially, they have sex with someone they hardly know whether their partner wants it or not on their first night together. Is that so different from rape to them?

    Such a person might think of sex as that dirty thing you should do (are forced to accept) only after marriage (society’s permission) and if you do it before, you are a dishonorable. Wouldn’t such a person view all sex to be about lust (or duty) and not love? Why should the victims complain about something that all women accept as their duty. Only problem is if it is done without society’s permission. So get the victim married to the rapist. Problem solved!

    And if a woman is ‘wayward’ you have society’s permission to punish her by doing that thing to her. Why in the world would a woman want to do that disgusting thing on her on volition, when their wives don’t seem to want it? There must be something in the food, TV, school, waiting 18 long years, that must be making her want it!

    When they hear of love, their only point of reference is the lust they experience. Is it any wonder they are disgusted when they hear of lovers wanting some privacy? Would such a person ever understand there is another world out there?

        • They sound very patronizing while doling out theories, just like some people here sound while talking about arranged marriages and equating them to rape . Being in a relationship outside of marriage does not make you a better person just like being married doesn’t give you a badge of honor. I don’t really get how people seem to think that dating is supposed to cure all the social problems in India. Its just dating. Its just marriage. Its just love. Its just sex. They are just human relationships. None of them can magically endow goodness on you.

        • Replying to Anon,
          I did not theorize about ALL arranged marriages. Further, “consenting sex between lovers” does not exclude people in arranged marriages. If you took umbrage on these two points, I know enough to pity you.

        • “arranged/forced” means arranged aka forced. That’s how people use “/”. And anything forced is rape. I understood it exactly the way you meant it.

        • When I have qualified the “arranged / forced marriage” that I was talking about as the kind “with hardly any interaction before marriage, who had sex on the first night”, what makes you think I was talking about ALL arranged marriages? Surely, you don’t think all arranged marriages are like that?

        • @Nisha As long as both the parties agree to the marriage and decide to have sex on the first night it is not rape. It is only rape if the man forces himself on the woman. Who are say or decide how long a couple should know each other before having sex? If the woman wanted it, who are you to judge? What about one night hookups? Do they constitute rape too because the girl did know the guy for as long as what you think is right?Or is it consensual sex because both partners were ok with it? How different are you from the ones calling premarital sex as rape? Going by your logic, if the man and the woman did not know each other for as long as you think is right but agreed to have sex, then the man is a rapist no matter what the woman feels and desires. Since this was most probably the norm in olden days, does that make all the men above a certain age rapists incapable of love and the women above a certain age victims who have no opinion of their own?

        • @Anon, I will try one more time. If you still don’t get what I mean, I cannot help it and I will not be trying again.

          A woman (not all the women) is forced to marry a man. This particular man wants sex on the first night as his right even when she doesn’t want it. Man gets his way. He thinks this is the right way of doing things. Thinks this is what love is. Will this particular man (not all the men in all marriages) think it is wrong to rape?

          Might such a man not think, sex in situations (marriage, punishment) permitted by his society is right? And might he not think sex in situations (love, premarital) not permitted by his society is wrong?

          Might this man think it strange that women might actually enjoy sex when his experience might have been that he has to force to get sex? Is it possible that he then looks for reasons, for what he considers is strange behavior, and arrives at food, TV, school or, waiting 18 long years to be the reason?

          Since he thinks lust is love, and immoral out of wedlock, might he not get disgusted with people who claim to be in love? Can such a person ever understand love that is not only about lust?

      • I am not an American. I have watched slumdog millionaire, but don’t remember much of it. So, I don’t get what you mean at all. Care to elaborate?

      • “/” is used when there is equivalency between the preceding and following word. Mr/Mrs at the beginning of a letter means that everything that follows can be applied to both Mr and the Mrs. Anyway you you don’t need a single character when you have an entire paragraph that makes the same point.

        • I’m not necessarily a proponent of arranged marriages, arranged meetings yes , but any sort of pressure No. yet if someone gets into an arranged marriage scenario with no interaction between spouses before the mangalsutra tying and sex following immedietly i would not say it’s rape. if a woman wants to sleep with a stranger she barely knows to get society’s sanction, whom am i to deny her that right. but if she is coerced in any way or forced even after marriage that i’d call rape.

        • I’m not sure why we are running away from the word ‘forced’. To me, a forced marriage need not necessarily be a marriage where there is explicit coercion. It can also refer to cases where the guy / girl (here ‘/’ means ‘or’) do not have complete freedom to choose who they marry. They are forced to adhere to certain criteria imposed upon them by parents or families or community. That describes a lot of arranged marriages happening in our country.

          In any case, Nisha’s point is very much valid. At least in my experience, most of the culture vultures I speak to equate ‘love’ with ‘lust’ and ‘lust’ with ‘despicable immorality’. They would be more shocked to hear that a girl has had pre-marital sex than to hear that she has been raped.

          Dating or pre-marital sex will not cure all social ills nor does anyone expect it to. However the fact that more and more people feel free and comfortable enough to date or have pre-marital sex implies that the sexual repression in our country is on a downward trend. That is something to encourage.

        • @ radha – “…if a woman wants to sleep with a stranger she barely knows to get society’s sanction, whom am i to deny her that right.”
          Exactly. Lack of love or familiarity between sexual partners does not in itself constitute rape. One one hand we have a bloke who thinks pre-marital sex is de-facto rape. On other, we have someone who feels sex between strangers, without love is rape. That is a dangerous kind of thinking, because it implies prostitutes deserve rape, since they get paid to get ‘raped’ (~sex between strangers, without love or commitment). Lets not confuddle moral judgementalism with ethics.
           
          If a woman has sex with a man just to be fed and clothed AND it is not forced againt her will/protests, it is legally not rape (except in Nazi Germany where German soldiers were forbidden to have sex with captured women). Although from an ethical perspective, that would be a very low thing to do.

        • Why can’t people understand that a rape is a rape as long as it is against the will and the consent of a woman irrespective of her relationship with the male involved?? As long as the woman is willing and consenting to sex with even a stranger in a sound and conscious mind it is not rape. Sex with a husband from a love marriage against her will and without her consent will still be rape. Even though we have sick people here who think a man can expect sex in return for feeding and clothing a woman even if she is willing and consenting.

    • I clearly didn’t do a good job of writing my thoughts out if I came across as saying that all arranged marriages are loveless, all men in arranged marriage are rapists and all women in arranged marriages are disgusted with their sex life.

      I should comment more to perfect my writing skills! :)

  9. @ Sraboney
    Since you used the Appeal to Victimhood, I’d like to point out that the film Borat isn’t funny if you look at it from the perspective of its victims – the Kazakh. If you lived in Kazakhstan, you wouldn’t have found it so funny. It is grossly unfair and overburdens them with gross and far-fetched carciatures of their country and its people.
     
    @ Nisha
    A consent obtained by deception is still a consent. If a man lies about being married, it can be tried as a breach of trust or fraud, but calling it rape is going overboard, in my opinion. Also, your analysis of Indian arranged marriages veers towards painting all Indian men in arranged marriages as de-facto rapists. Rather than making a point, you trivalise rape – which is having sex with a woman against her will. Unless a husband forces himself against her will (~marital rape), it isn’t rape, even through the sex is such marriages may be different from your romanticised ideation of sex.
     
    You also imply that sex without love is something inherently disgusting to women, which again is judgemental to women who don’t conflate sex with love (and contrary to popular desi wisdom, such women exist, they are perfectly sane and normal).
     
    @ Anon
    You have a point. While I am against the idea of marriages in general, I don’t think the average Indian brought up on a diet of Bollywood films and Indian culture is mature enough to handle the emotional and sexual perils of the dating world. Not to mention, socal perils unique to India such a (im)moral police, religious/caste hierarchy, the low status of women and a socio-political environment that demonises, and even persecutes (unmarried) heterosexual couples. These social evils have to be corrected first for dating to be viable for Indians in the first place.

    • I wasn’t equating sex in an arranged marriage situation to rape or calling all men in arranged marriages rapists!!!

      I was trying to theorize why some people would consider premarital sex and rape similar (as we have seen in the last few blog posts). Could their experience of “normal sex” as a loveless, but socially permitted activity make them think that any socially not permitted sex (whether for love or rape) is abnormal.

      Again, I didn’t say loveless sex is disgusting to women, I was wondering if sex with love might be considered not normal by these strange people who think it is something in the food!

    • Not everyone finds a joke funny. You may have not found it funny, others did. People make jokes about India and Indians, some of which are pretty funny. What I was trying to get across is that as long as one is not trying to make fun of the victims, it’s fine. The joke in itself may not be funny, but that’s ok. If we have to censor every word we utter because someone somewhere may be offended then it would be difficult to live. If you didn’t find Borat funny, that’s fine.

    • Atheist Indian, while I understand what you’re trying to say, you seem to imply that as long as the husband/ man doesn’t have to use *force* himself sexually, it isn’t rape. That I think is a dangerous line to tread, because it seems to validate as implicit consent any absence of struggle on the woman’s part.

      • Ditto Scribblehappy. That’s what I was going say. Just because there isn’t direct violence or an outright denial of consent doesn’t mean that the victim was in fact consenting or that the perp was not using coercion. Implied consent is a very dangerous path to tread on.

    • @ Sraboney
      I am glad you got it. The reasoning you used, would go for the ‘rape’ joke in 3 Idiots as well. The scene wasn’t about making fun of rape victims, but the hilarity ensured when the word is used in the wrong context (a college speech). You didn’t find it funny. Others did. For the record, I did find Borat funny, although in bad taste.
       
      @ scribblehappy
      I wasn’t implying that. Absence of struggle does in no way imply consent (cases where a woman could be raped at gunpoint). But the absence of a verbal consent in an otherwise consensual sex does not imply rape, even if the said sexual activity goes against someone’s personal ideals of how sex should be.
       
      @ StarlitWishes
      In sexual relationships in mainland Indian cultures, the average Hindu/Muslim Indian woman rarely initiates and is usually inexplicit with her consent, even when she is otherwise consenting. Lack of an explicit (verbal or physical) ‘no’ in such situations, is the only way to assess whether it is rape or not.
       
      Unless we have a sexual revoltion in the country that is not limited to educated and upper class 0.1% of the population, this is the only way for the law enforcement to assess rape in traditional Indian relationships/marriages. Of course, I am treading on dangerous territory, but what is the realistic alternative? Videotape every sexual encounter, in case it comes up in a court hearing? You know, that *might* be a workable idea, if Indians are okay with the *implicit* violation of sexual privacy.

      • @Athiest Indian: I realize that not every woman (whether in India or outside) will explicitly say YES. But, I don’t think its a good idea to always require her to explicitly say ‘NO’ before we call it rape. There are many situations where its impossible or unfeasible for her to explicitly refuse, but other actions or non-actions, should be considered within their context to assess whether she consented. I admit I don’t know about sexual assault law in India, but where I am, explicit NOs, struggling/other actions, and even non-action (for e.g. when she is afraid of the assaulter) must be considered in the assessment of whether there was consent, and the man is supposed to take reasonable steps to ascertain that there was consent. And consent has to be subjective, i.e. in the mind of the victim.

        I know this might not be the case in India, and it certainly is not without its drawbacks here either. You can always find cases that are in the grey area. But I think requiring actual NOs is definitely unjust, and certainly with what you’ve just told me, and what I know of mainstream Indian women, if they can’t say YES, what is the likelihood that they will expressly say NO? And in that case, implying consent would be terrible.

      • @ StarlitWishes
        Well, Ms. StarlitWishes, not every man in India has the potential to sleep with 0.1% or so Indian women who might be liberated enough to be explicit with their sexual consent. South Asians, like Eastern Europeans, are notorious for being emotionally double-faced and at the same time, expecting their partner to ‘read their minds’.Top it with the Hindu/Islamic puritanism, which may make it difficult for women to express explicit consent even when they are otherwise consenting. As I said many times previously, in such cultures, pretty much the only way to assess rapes is the existence of a ‘no’ (verbally or physically).
         
        The concept of subjective rapes is a problematic path to tread on, in a culture where even socio-legal rapes are not taken seriously. You really want to start making all men de-facto rapists because their wives don’t cry, “Yes, yes, fuck me!” during sex? (Pardon the crude way of putting it). This would be a good way to get rapes even further discredited by the majority of people, who’d start to think of rapes as some armchair philosophy rather than a reality and a crime. I am actually having a really hard time trying to make people see child abuse for what it is, given that a lot of Indians can’t differentiate between child abuse and disciplining their kids. At this point, I am focusing on physical abuse of children (beatings, etc.) rather than the emotional abuse, which can be dealt with, once we have handled the physical part. One baby step at a time.
         
        Also, the issue of subjective consent would go both ways. It is errorenous to imply that arousal in men is definite and enthusiastic consent, since men might otherwise be coerced to sleep with a wife/partner they are not attracted to, out of a sense of marital duty or to have kids (which is actually not uncommon in cultures of Middle East/South Asia; and perhaps in other cultures as well).

        • @ Atheist Indian
          I never said consent has to be limited to express YESes. In fact, quite the opposite: consent should not be limited to express YES, BUT, lack of consent should also not be limited to express NOs, because that is too high a threshold to hold women to, especially in a country like India, where it is so unlikely that the woman will say either Yes or No outright. While I realize that this may be a difficult concept for the law to deal with, it doesn’t mean its impossible.

          Obviously it would be stupid to consider all men de facto rapists! Again, it wouldn’t automatically be rape if she didn’t SAY yes. Rather, my argument is that it shouldn’t be consensual sex if she doesn’t say NO. And its not “subjective rape”, its subjective consent, i.e. did that particular victim consent to that particular sexual activity, at that particular time? And I understand this might be very hard to explain to people, and to get them to accept that No (express or implied) means No, and that its up to the man to ascertain that she does want to participate; but again, just because its difficult, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

          Of course, men are also free to consent or not consent. If he doesn’t want to have sex with her, and they still go ahead, why shouldn’t he be able to say that it was non-consensual sex? I assume men would be unlikely to call this ‘rape’, for a variety of factors, and I’m sure it would not be taken seriously in many jurisdictions, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t non-consensual. The fact that you used the word ‘coerced’ makes that clear. The reasons behind the coercion don’t matter as long as the man was capable of consenting, and yet did not consent.

  10. In the Indian context, there is no concept of rape. it’s consensual sex always. Even if the woman resists, they’ll find a reason to say she wanted it or walked into it willingly. And child abuse, oh that doesn’t happen here. We just have friendly uncles around. Sex is a man’s right and a woman’s duty. Consensual or not.

    (I am sorry, but the recent political discussion on their view of rapes and women has left me totally frustrated)

  11. Anon, if I’m not mistaken, Nisha wanted to point out that the big word specifying rape is ‘consent’. Forced sex by a husband after an arranged or forced marriage is equally wrong as forced sex by a boyfriend while dating. As long as the female is not ‘consenting’ it is a rape. So, having sex with a stranger one is married to without having the consent should amount to rape too. It wasn’t about labeling arranged marriages as bad or dating as good. No one is equating arranged marriages to rape, but any marriage with forced sex should be equal to rape. And so is any relationship outside or before marriage.

    But this made me think of another aspect of marriages. Since the law accepts the refusal of sex by a spouse to be a valid basis of divorce, isn’t the law promoting marital rapes ?

    • No, the law is promoting the fact that one usually expects a sexual relationship within a marriage. and if one spouse refuses to have sex, then instead of encouraging marital rape, the other spouse has the option of seeking divorce. I’m sure I would be very unhappy if I were married to someone who never wanted to have sex, and I’m a woman. I think it’s reasonable to believe that a healthy marriage would probably include sex.

      On the other hand, the law did have a concept known as “restitution of conjugal rights” If one spouse refuses to live with the other without good cause, the aggrieved spouse can ask that this person be compelled to live with them. This is definitely promoting marital rape. However it is no longer used for this purpose – and courts do not enforce it. It’s usually used as a precursor to filing for divorce. Why it remains on the statute books despite this is a problem because of the legislature.

    • “Since the law accepts the refusal of sex by a spouse to be a valid basis of divorce, isn’t the law promoting marital rapes ?”
      No, it is giving a person the option of quitting a marriage where their sexual needs aren’t met. In effect, it prevents the kind of situation where a marital rape might occur. Personally, I am more in favour of no-fault divorces. If divorces in the Hindu Marriage Act were made easier and quicker, there would be far less homocides and supposed ‘accidents’ where one partner tries to get rid of the other.

  12. @Nisha Can’t we just all simply agree that all men are rapists? BTW you seem to have no idea how real sex between “lovers” go. It is not always so mushilly hollywood like. Also, what exactly you mean by lust? You know it is actually very hard to perform sex for men while not feeling any lust.

  13. IHM, you completely missed the point. The word balatkar used here is to mean “screwed”, which is a very common slang among college students..

    See this video with subtitles.. At the end, Amir Khan wants to drive home the point that cramming is not going to help you in life after 4 years of Engineering in college. The whole scene was to make up a joke with the word “balatkar”. If someone didn’t get the joke, please move and don’t make a big deal out of it.

      • Rape jokes aren’t funny! People don’t joke about murder, robbery or any other heinous crime. Just because a crime involves sexual activity, its status as a crime is not diluted. Joke about sex, no one’s complaining!

      • // And why is ‘being screwed’ used to imply something bad being done/happening to a person?

        That is because the dictionary meaning of the word “screw” means:

        (1) to mistreat or exploit through extortion, trickery, or unfair actions; especially : to deprive of or cheat out of something due or expected
        (2) : to treat so as to bring about injury or loss (as to a person’s reputation) —often used as a generalized curse

        (Source: Merriam Webster dictionary)

        • To screw can also mean to have intercourse. But that is slang, and there are about 100 words in english that in slang can mean to have intercourse.

        • Yes, all slang if analyzed will seem to involve strangely skewed gender politics, but I am not even going into that. Rape is the word I particularly object to. Being a college student myself, I think I DO know what getting raped by a problem set or fraped by your friend means. I often unthinkingly used them myself but I am training myself not to, because every time I stop and think about the act of rape, and how much trauma and violation of a human being’s rights it involves, I realize that anything my problem set or exam could have made me feel is not even on the same scale as that, and I stop. Because words signify actual acts, and when we throw around a world frivolously even with the most harmless intentions, we are party to perpetuating a culture of trivializing the heinousness of the act!

  14. In Indian culture (actually it’s probably true for all cultures) sexual ethos was designed to perpetuate the fact that men are superior and on top of the totem pole. Sometimes it’s hard for even people who have been raped to figure out that they have been violated because of our culture’s weird ideas about sex, sexuality and gender. For instance, ideas like it’s normal for women not to initiate and/or enjoy sex (and consequently it’s abnormal for men not to initiate or enjoy sex at anytime, anywhere), only strangersvrape, premarital and teenage sex is wrong (especially for women) and those girls/women who have it will necessarily feel terrible and will regret it, and pain when women have sex for the first time are stated as facts and so many victims of rape are confused as to what has actually happened. If a virgin is raped, she might not think it’s rape because what she’s feeling is exactly what she has been told she’ll feel (pain, regret etc.) if she has premarital sex. A woman who is sexually violated by a known person may think it’s not rape because she has been told all her life that rapists are always strangers. Wives who are forced to have sex by their husbands without their consent may attribute it to the fact that men have needs and it is the wife’s duty to fulfill these needs no matter what.

  15. i m not sure who to put it but there is another thing that most indian men believe, they think a women by default says no to sex, so they have to be forced, then they get used to it. The women on her part certainly refuses the man to have sex, as she doesnt want to be seen wanting to have sex, so when the man forces she fights lightly but she actually wants it, this is the psychology in financially and socially lower sections of the society. and this is how rape begins most of the time..
    just thought you would like to know

    • I think this psychology is there, the ‘uski na main haan hai’ nonsense.

      I strongly disagree that this is how most rapes begin. It’s quite delusional to think that. Rapes are pre-planned, not spontaneous romantic things between hesitating partners. Most rapes start with the man knowing he is going to rape a vulnerable victim (sometimes little children) and knowing when and how. If you try to rape a woman, she will resist strongly and physically so a man will know she does not want it.

      • @ Carvaka
        Indeed. It is not just something that comes from men, but a lot of Indian women, even educated and supposedly ‘liberal’ ones have internalised this idea to such an extent that they put up a facade of reluctance, expecting the men to ‘break through’. This is the kind of cultural claptrap, that makes me really opposed to the idea of dating mainland Indian women.

        • It’s a good point, and not limited to India.

          When you shame women for having a sexuality and to desire sex, by referring to those who openly do as “sluts” or in other ways, one drawback is that women become cautious about openly showing that they are sexual creatures, and when they don’t, some men might end up believing the acting, and believing that they’re actually not.

          Female friends of mine have told me about situations where they where interested in a guy, and -would- want to have sex with him, yet felt that they had to appear reluctant so as to avoid a reputation for being “easy”, in essence by saying “no”, when what they really meant was: “Yes — but work for it some more first, so that I avoid looking easy.”

          This, ofcourse, strengthens the impression that sex is something that only men want, and something that women at best accept reluctantly if they feel the man has “earned” it.

        • @ Eivind
          While I have observed similar type of slut shaming in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, women from that part of the world aren’t as sexually inhibited as mainland Indian women. Indian women, I think, face a lot more than mere sexual shaming – coming off as sexual might threaten their marriage prospects, open their marital faithfulness to scrutiny and in cases of honour cultures, threaten their lives. This is a stronger deterrant than slut shaming.
           
          The biggest victims of cultural sex shaming in India are males. It might seem a weird thing for women who actually believe that Indian men are culturally permitted unfettered sexuality, but it isn’t. Sexual taboo in desi cultures in India applies both to males and female (although for women, it is more forcefully enforced, since women are considered the ‘gatekeepers’ of culture). There is no Indian equivalance of the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality in Indian cultures when it comes to sexuality.
           
          Middle class and religious upper class men in India are taught all their lives that it is shameful and characterless to think of having sex before they have ‘proven their worth’ by getting educated, getting a job and marrying a woman chosen by their parents. Sex is suppsedly the privileged earned when one is ‘responsible enough’ to feed, clothe and shelter a wife and the (prospective) kids. Not exactly the recipe to create marriages on mutual love, equality and respect. Not the recipe for men to understand or even care about consent once they are married and feel they ‘own’ their wives’ sexuality.
           
          This kind of repression model perhaps worked in agrarian feudal socio-economic system in the past, but it makes no sense in the era of birth control, higher education and women in the workforce. Men who haven’t evolved to accept this new reality would have a hard time finding their footing in a world where one no longer owns his wife, not legally anyway.

  16. Oh thank God! I thought I was the only one thoroughly offended by that scene in 3 Idiots! I can etch that movie err again, even though I really like Aamir as an actor, because I always just go back to that scene and cringe. And anytime I mention my reasoning, the response is always, “it’s just a movie. It’s supposed to be a joke.” and all I can think is it’s not funny.

    Its such an insult to rape victims, to laugh at their trauma, or to equate it with consensual sex. I just want to be able to pull out a dictionary and show these uneducated, uncivilized idiots what rape means, and how it is the opposite of consensual sex. Misinformation, or ignorance as the case may be, can be fatal in this area.

  17. Pingback: Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  18. Pingback: BJP and Trinamool are objecting to a lower age of consent on the ground that this is in conflict with “conservative norms” of Indian society. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  21. Pingback: ‘The woman said she was inebriated when a co-worker took her to a room and raped her.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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