The Indian government [link] and the society [link] and hence the Indian legal system [link] seem to continue to believe that Indian men and women do not need to understand, respect, seek, give or deny Consent. This leads to some problems.
Like, is it possible for someone to respect women, if they have no idea that women are people with equal rights?
And can women be said to have equal rights, if they are not permitted to withhold or to give consent?
Can lack of respect be cured with appeals to display respect [link]?
And where does this disrespect come from?
A large part of it comes from genuinely believing that women’s consent in matters that directly concern them is not relevant [link], and though abuse, violence and disrespect are unpleasant, they are either unavoidable or even necessary to maintain the status quo. Many of us are afraid of any change.
Also, we do not seem to understand Consent as much as we understand Honor – which is why, (amongst other things) – forced sex or rape within marriage is more acceptable to many of us, than consensual sex outside marriage (which is strongly condemned as immoral). [link]
I think it is particularly difficult when not just the society, but even the law does not acknowledge women’s right to bodily autonomy.
The fact is, like anything logical – Consent is easy to understand. But Consent is empowering for those who are directly involved, the right to deny or to give consent takes the power away from Patriarchy, and gives it to the individual.
Respecting women, for most Indians does not mean respecting them as equal individuals, it often includes controlling their lives and sexuality, and as a result – women being allowed to choose their own partners is troubling for many. An extreme case was Mahendra Singh Tikait who is quoted to have said, “…Only whores can choose their partners.” [link]
What would change if Consent in sexual relationships was understood and accepted by the society and the law makers, as the most crucial factor in determining whether the act was a morally or legally a crime or not?
Here’s a video that explains Consent.
What do you think?