Does vengeance equal feminism?

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Warning – spoilers on ‘Gone Girl’ – book/movie review

Has anyone read the book, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn?  A NY Times bestseller that was made into a movie starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, the book/movie is disturbing on many fronts.

It is meant to be dark humor when intelligent, manipulative, psychopathic Amy gets revenge on her mediocre, selfish, entitled husband Nick, through an intricately planned out and meticulously executed series of chilling crimes.

On the surface, it seems like we’re finally seeing a complex woman character, a rarity in bestsellers and Hollywood.  Amy isn’t sweet, warm and compassionate.  She IS the bad guy.  And there are reasons given for the warping of her mind as well – the emotional manipulation of her parents.

However, as you progress through the novel, Amy goes on to concoct a false murder charge against her husband (using compellingly manufactured evidence), and when that begins to fail, uses her innocent ex boyfriend in her schemes, then murders him, then accuses him of rape and abuse, returns to her husband but continues to manipulate him with threats of turning the media and law enforcement against him.

I found the plot severely undermining the very real abuse that countless women face and it almost seems to match the thinking of men’s rights activists who constantly talk about “false rape charges” and “false abuse charges” as their reason for opposition to rape and abuse laws. In reality, the law enforcement in many countries shames and silences rape victims rather than taking their reports seriously; yet, what we have here is a twilight zone of a woman victimizing several men who slighted her as well as ensnaring the entire media and law enforcement.

Gillian Flynn considers herself a feminist and claims that her book is also feminist because of its “non-conformity to the traditional perception of women as innately good characters“. Somehow, her argument doesn’t quite fly.  So, Amy is not good and sweet and boring.  However, Amy’s character feels like a comic book evil temptress, complete with the perfect sexy body and dark, destructive mind.  She’s completely stereotypical in that she brings to life the worst nightmares of misogynists.

The book is bursting at the seams with other male/female stereotypes.  Nick is clumsy, reticent, somewhat clueless, a little selfish, a “little” unfaithful, but essentially good-hearted.  Amy is classy, privileged, articulate, intelligent, and if a woman is privileged/intelligent, then of course it follows that she must also be manipulative and evil.  Nick’s mediocrity makes him “innocent” and his selfishness is “mostly unconscious” and his unfaithfulness is overshadowed (and forgiven?) by Amy’s incredible capacity for vengeance.  The “evil media” takes advantage of his male inability to pretend grief, when what he’s actually feeling is relief. (makes you want to give him a hug, doesn’t it?) Amy’s intelligence however is used for a destructive purpose. Maybe another argument for men’s preference for “simple women”?   When asked to describe his wife, Nick actually says in frustration, “She’s complicated!”  (Sorry, Nick, a woman is a human and humans are complicated, what you should’ve got yourself is a toy if you wanted something simpler.)

Other charming women characters in the book include Amy’s emotionally manipulative mother who has used her daughter for her personal fame and riches, a media siren who is bent upon making Nick’s life hell, a 20 something voluptuous student who throws herself at Nick (home wrecker?) and crime groupies who want to use Nick and take selfies of themselves with him. The only real woman in the book is Nick’s rough-around-the-edges twin sister, Margo, who also co-owns the bar with her brother. She tries to help her immature brother despite her frustration with his mistakes. She tries to remain fair to Amy even though she dislikes her. But even Margo lets us down when she says “complicated (woman) means b***h”.

Here’s a quote from the book, which has been used to illustrate the underlying feminist tone of the book –

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and jams hot dogs into her mouth …. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined manner and let their men do whatever they want. …. Men actually think this girl exists. ….. And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. …… Maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics.”

In the above sense, the book does hint at the irony of it all – the real progress that women have made in the social and emotional realm of relationships is still minuscule.  We are leading nations, heading successful companies, but who are we at home, really?  A Nooyi who is ordered to go pick up the milk?  A Sandberg who suffers mommy guilt?

Here, I began to have hope.  I thought the author was portraying how women are forced into certain roles by society and in the process, let their whole lives revolve around selfish, uncaring men who want to see a sugar coated, simplified, corseted version of them.  And I hoped that Amy would eventually refuse to be straight jacketed, that she would emerge free from the selfish expectations of society.

However what does Amy DO ABOUT THIS?  What does she do to fight this cool girl burden and set herself free?  She becomes one!!!  How un-empowering is that!  She becomes this cool girl that Nick wants her to be. And Nick predictably falls head over heels for her.  But she’s mad at him for making her do this, so she takes revenge.  There is absolutely NOTHING feminist about this.

Another argument that Flynn put forth for feminism is that women are sick of being used and brushed aside, and when Amy finally begins to take back control in the relationship, when she starts calling the shots, it’s a win for the women’s cause. On some level, is Amy’s viciousness deeply satisfying to all of us women, who are familiar with some form of oppression or the other?  I thought about this but could not find a shred of fulfillment in the self-destructive nature of vengeance.  The argument that getting even feels good is faced with one problem – relationships are not held together with a gun to someone’s head. Freeing oneself from abuse doesn’t mean abusing the abuser.  You are no longer free when you inflict pain on someone, because you are taking on a burden. Taking back control of her own life is what Amy should’ve done, not taking control of Nick’s life. Ever heard of a thing called divorce, Amy? So, much more simpler that revenge.

Feminism is not about being a martyr, nor is it about taking revenge on men for the lost opportunities, but to demand equality in all spheres of life.  And this is what makes the book extremely disturbing – because it taps into the age-old fears of men – that women are irrational, nasty, manipulative creatures, sexually controlling and bordering on insanity, who if given the power (equality misconstrued as power), can easily destroy men to bits.  This mindset of fear is at the root of misogyny and the book does a great job of amplifying it.

Gone Girl is oddly reminiscent of the film noir movies of the 1940s, which possibly reflected men’s fears about women’s newly emerging post-war independence.  A series of films had at the center of the plot, a troubled, brooding male (Robert Mitchum, Fred MacMurray, or Humphrey Bogart) who succumbed to the evil charms of an intelligent, seductive woman.  The outcome of this interaction would be destructive for both of them. The men invariably were lead astray on to a twisted path of deception, murder, and mayhem under the influence of these femme fatales.

With this book/movie (Gone Girl), the virgin-whore dichotomy is still firmly in place.  Men continue to feel torn about choosing between the “simple, good, non-threatening, but boring woman” and the “interesting, sexy, intelligent but ultimately destructive woman”.  Neither kind of woman exists in reality.  The only place they exist is in the fear-ridden minds of misogynists, and the books and movies that flow from them.

If you read the book or watched the movie, please share your thoughts on it. If you didn’t, please share your thoughts on the concept of vengeance, getting even, and feminism, or on the distorted/appropriate portrayal of strong women characters in books and movies.

Ragging Culture

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

In the following case, do the people who ragged the student understand that what they did is inherently wrong (let alone understanding that it’s a crime)?

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/Student-Attempts-Suicide-Family-Cries-Ragging/2015/02/04/article2651563.ece

And yet another case where the parents think their son was ragged and tormented and consider his death suspicious (not an accident):

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/nujs-student-falls-to-death-parents-allege-foul-play/

In the above case, I wonder if the student shared with his parents that he was being tormented? If so, did they listen? Did they take it seriously? What specific actions were taken to curb the ragging/bullying?

Bullying is a universal problem. In the US, we deal with it in high school and the earlier part of undergraduate college. In India, we have the added problems of lack of recognition of bullying as a crime (both in homes and colleges) and improper (or lack of) law enforcement.

There is a third very important factor specific to our society – the hierarchical/power culture that pervades through many other abusive relationships (rich versus poor, elder vs younger members of family, groom’s parents vs bride’s parents in weddings and post-wedding life, upper caste vs lower caste, land owners vs farmers, upper class vs laborers, well connected vs man-on-the-street, politicians versus common man), and we can almost see this naturally extending to the campus arena – seniors versus juniors. Once again, respect is demanded for no logical reason. Respect is taken, not earned. Appeasement is seen as the only way to peace and being left alone. Fear is mistaken for respect and power drives the relationship.

I’ve known people who consider ragging as “part of life” or a “milestone in the journey to adulthood”. Some have referred to it as “character building” and a “rite of passage”; others consider it “harmless” and “fun” and for these, ragging seems to bring back nostalgic memories of their student years.

My cousin graduated from the Naval Engineering College at Lonavala about 15 years ago. The first summer he came home, he was unrecognizable. He was gaunt, bone thin, and developed a skin rash that could only be attributed to stress. During ragging he (along with others) was put through unbearable levels of physical pain and mental humiliation. He came close to quitting a few times but somehow pulled through.

But after he got married ( a few years later), when his wife asked him if the ragging at NEC was as bad as she had heard, he shrugged and replied, “It made a man out of me.”

Ragging, on the other hand, portrayed as amusing or hilarious in popular movies like 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai hasn’t helped either.

Ragging is a form of abuse, period. It can be emotional, verbal or physical. It involves repeated, possibly aggressive, humiliating, or manipulative behavior that is deliberately aimed at asserting power over another individual or group. It is harmful to the physical and emotional well being of students, something that any educational institution by its very definition, should be concerned about. In some cases, it can be violent and result in injury or death. Regardless of whether it is mild or severe, it should be treated as unacceptable.

Ragging, bullying, hazing – this destructive behavior goes by different names and takes on various forms around the world.

But it makes one wonder what goes on in these people’s minds? What are they thinking when they insult, humiliate, or harass someone? I’m on the PTA for my son’s high school and bullying is an ever-present concern at the meetings. We’ve had 2 incidents this year, one of them was milder (inappropriate language toward a gay student), but the other involved consistent, deliberate, and elaborately planned out harassment by a group of people toward one student (consistent because the victim remained silent for a longer period before complaining).

In general, education, awareness, strict law enforcement, and counseling definitely minimize/reduce the problem to some extent. There is no doubt in any student’s mind (at my son’s school) that bullying is wrong/unacceptable/illegal.

However there is another side to bullying, one that educational institutions have little control over – the student’s home environment. Despite the education and awareness that is routinely dispensed at the school in the form of talks, fliers, help lines, seminars, text alert systems, counseling, and assertiveness training, bullying still happens. Why? That’s because we don’t have complete control over the environment that creates bullies. How much of bullying happens because some children/youth grow up never learning that it is a serious crime? How many of them have heard it being referred to as something that is “part of life” or a “rite of passage”? Or things like “boys are by nature aggressive” or “boys don’t cry” or “conquer or be conquered”? How many of these children grow up being bullied by the adults who raise them?

We can only look at the behaviors of bullies and find some common underlying issues. Numerous studies indicate that most bullies tend to exhibit the following traits:

  • lacking a sense of control over their own lives
  • anger that is not dealt with constructively and often misdirected
  • low self-esteem
  • may have witnessed violence or aggression at home
  • may have seen power being used unfairly at home
  • may have been bullied by others
  • lacking in empathy
  • lacking in remorse
  • may have experienced harsh, physical punishments at home
  • possibly exposed to only win-lose situations and have seldom seen win-win relationships
  • insufficient or inappropriate socialization during childhood

And then, there are the passive bullies, the ones who don’t initiate the bullying but quickly join in when someone else gets it going. They seem to exhibit the following traits:

  • herd mentality and lack of strong opinions
  • hungry/deprived for attention
  • low self esteem
  • looking for someone ‘superior’ to latch on to
  • tendency to exhibit hero worship and unquestioning loyalty
  • lack of identity and the need to belong

There is a third group that is worth looking at – people who witness bullying. By silently watching a crime, they are knowingly or unknowingly encouraging it. A study titled “Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders” published on athealth.com concludes that “bystanders create the illusion that the bully has the support of the majority and this perception perpetuates a culture of bullying”. These people tend to –

  • not want to get involved and generally don’t take a stand on anything
  • may not connect the dots (if it’s him today, it could be me tomorrow)
  • may not see bullying as a crime and believe it is amusing
  • may be less empathetic
  • may not have been taught self-respect and individual rights in their home environment

What can colleges do to deal with ragging/bullying besides developing a strict code of law and enforcing it?

  • The first thing that comes to mind in terms of solutions is to have a zero tolerance policy or ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ against bullying behavior. But this does not necessarily solve the problem entirely. Bullies have a way of seeking out victims off campus or on social media, via smart phones or in cyber space.
  • It is therefore important for an educational institution to work on the bullying person (or persons) as an individual. Counseling may be needed for the person engaging in this behavior to see his actions as not only criminal but as genuinely wrong and hurtful to others. Counseling may also explore the underlying issues of the individual and find positive ways for him to relate to others and develop acceptable coping mechanisms for issues that cannot be easily resolved.
  • I don’t know if we have counselors at colleges and universities, or if they are trained to guide and support students in addressing their emotional health and development, but if we don’t, we should definitely work toward that goal.

A University of Albany study that examined the relationship between parental aggression toward children and the children’s behavior states that “Parents who may displace their anger, insecurity, or a persistent need to dominate and control upon their children in excessive ways have been proven to increase the likelihood that their own children will in turn become overly aggressive or controlling towards their peers.”

While we need laws against ragging/bullying and we need proper ways to enforce them, preventing bullying behavior primarily begins at home. We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching youngsters in our own homes.

On the communication front –

  • Are we using positive communication to resolve differences with our children and with each other (spouses)?
  • Is the communication style used by parents straightforward and assertive or is it manipulative/sarcastic? Words can often be used in punitive, damaging ways in the form of labeling, veiled threats, and ‘ harmless jokes’ that perpetuate stereotypes.
  • Are we listening to our children when they are angry with someone? Are we showing them ways to resolve their conflicts in acceptable, legal ways?
  • Are we able to handle our own anger at our own problems in a mature and responsible manner?
  • In conflict situations, are we addressing the problem or resorting to personal attacks?

On developing trust and self esteem –

  • Do we trust our children when they complain about abuse? Have we taught them how to stand up to any form of abuse – verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual? Do we take their reports of ragging seriously?
  • Are we helping build their self-esteem by recognizing their strengths and supporting them with their challenges?
  • Are we instilling confidence in them so that they don’t feel the need for approval and/or belonging from the wrong sources?
  • Are we allowing them to develop their own identity so that they don’t feel the need to put someone down to feel superior?

On power play –

  • Are our children engaging in arguments with the sole purpose of ‘winning’ or are they engaging in discussions with the intent of learning?
  • Are we creating a democratic environment at home, with room for different ideas and viewpoints? Are children able to express disagreement without fear? Are they able to express disagreement without shouting or getting abusive with parents?
  • Are we refraining from using intimidation and aggression in the form of a loud voice, physical punishments, and threats?
  • Are we using our power as adults and parents wisely and fairly?
  • Are we showing respect to our children and earning their respect rather than expecting unquestioning obedience?

On values –

  • Are we respecting people of all cultures, communities, and backgrounds both in our words and actions? Or do we make casual racist remarks or put down people based on their caste, color, gender, orientation, or economic status? Do we subtly convey our hatred or mistrust for the ‘other’? (Children pick up on their parents’ prejudices even when they’re not overtly stated.)
  • Are we teaching them what constitutes a crime? Do our children understand that taking away someone else’s right to be educated in a safe, non-threatening environment is a crime?

The above strategies are helpful not only in preventing children from growing up to become bullies, but also in preventing them from becoming victims of bullies.

Again, it would not be entirely wrong to claim that the emotional well being of children is a low priority in traditional hierarchical families and expecting our existing parenting philosophy to change drastically is wishful thinking. However, cynicism is not the answer. I think identifying and defining the problem is the first step and a prerequisite to awareness building and finding solutions.

Bullying gives people a sense of power. It’s up to us to create and promote democratic environments (both at home and educational institutions) that don’t function on the power principle, and instead operate on awareness of individual rights, mutual respect and boundaries.

Please share your experiences with ragging and ideas on how we can change the culture of ragging.

Edited to add: A Boy’s Courage in the Face of Cowardly Bullying:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/autistic-teenager-beaten-up-by-bullies-makes-them-watch-20minute-video-about-autism-10368201.html

 

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

Sometimes one crime and how it is reported tells so much about a society.

‘Five drunken young men from a nearby farming village accosted a couple…, beating the young man and gang-raping the woman. It was the latest in a series of brutal sexual assaults and gang rapes of women in India’s booming capital and its sprawling suburbs.’ (Thanks for the link RenKiss)

“The attackers often do not see their actions as crimes, the police said, and do not expect the women they attack to report them. “They have no doubt that they will get away with it,” said H. G. S. Dhaliwal, a deputy police commissioner in New Delhi who has investigated several such cases.”

We shall soon see where the attackers get so much confidence from.

Let’s believe the attackers really don’t see a gang rape as a crime, or at least not a serious crime.

How do they get this idea? This news report illustrates how. It’s a perfect example of how sexual crimes must NOT be reported.

One example,

“In each case there has been an explosive clash between the rapidly modernizing city and the embattled, conservative village culture upon which the capital increasingly encroaches.”

Why this effort to explain the rapists’ point of view?

And the facts are inaccurate. These rapes are a result of clashes of culture?
So rapists (some with previous criminal backgrounds) don’t rape women from their villages? (Click if you think they don’t.)

Going by the above logic a 6 month old or a 2 year old would be safe in these ‘sleepy villages’ with narrow lanes ‘redolent of cow dung’, since these babies are not ‘enjoying’ any unheard of freedoms, or romancing forbidden lovers?

What about when village girls looking for jobs in Delhi get raped by WagonR owners?

“India’s economy is expected to grow 9 percent this year, and its extended boom has brought sweeping social change. The number of women in the workforce has roughly doubled in the past 15 years.”

Can’t really blame the rapists, can we? How are they expected to adjust to ‘sweeping social changes’ and women doubling in workforce?

So women who stay inside their homes and whose lives signify no social changes are safer?

More facts.

A 60 year old, raped by her husband’s employer in her house (this rapist was earlier acquitted in a rape case), another 77 year old raped by a rikshaw puller, an 8 year old in her house, a 12 year old by her driver, 17 year old daughter of a Grade IV employee in Lady Hardinge Hospital, a 9 year old in Sarojini Nagar in her house, a 3 year old

[All examples are from Delhi]

The victims are almost invariably young, educated working women who are enjoying freedom unknown even a decade ago. The accused are almost always young high school dropouts from surrounding villages, where women who work outside the home are often seen as lacking in virtue and therefore deserving of harassment and even rape.”

Examples above show this is not true.

FACT.

Who gets raped?

Everyone. According to some statistics, only one in 69 rape cases in India are even reported. Only 20 % of those reported result in convictions for the rape accused.

Rapes happen across the social strata in India. In the Indian villages, it is the poor villager’s wife or sister or daughter who gets raped by another poor rowdy villager, and everyone from the local thanedar to the landlord. These rapes, unless the news becomes public due to unavoidable reasons, are never reported. It is reported in the newspapers or reaches the police only when a rape becomes part of a larger caste battle, family feud or political game. [Click to read and save the entire, very well written  article.]

“Seema Chowdhury, 20, the sister of one of the accused men, graduated from high school. But when she tried to enroll in college to become a teacher, her brothers refused to allow it. Young women who wander too far face many dangers, they argued.

“I wanted to do something in my life,” she said. “But they thought it was not a good idea.”

It’s so nice to see they are family men and want to see their sisters safe from men like themselves. Maybe such nice men can’t really be blamed for doing something they don’t see as a crime?

In comparison, the young woman who was raped here had unimaginable freedom. She had a job as an accountant at a garment factory and her own cellphone and e-mail account. Using those, she carried on a secret romance with a young man she met online despite the fact that her parents had arranged for her to be married to someone else, according to the police.”

Rape justification continues, so does victim blaming. The girl was asking for it by being in the wrong place, in wrong company, at a wrong time and doing the wrong thing – basically breaking all the rules these nice rapists lay down for their own nice and hence safe sister. Also note, the notorious cell phone and the internet being used to carry on a  ‘romance’ when her nice parents have arranged a nice match for her elsewhere. Maybe she asked for it?

If she was a Swiss Diplomat, working with full permission of her parents, not meeting her secret lover, she would have been safer?

When they picked up Tony …he was still drunk, Mr. Singh said.

“He was so shameless he narrated the whole thing without any sense of remorse,” he said. Tony later denied that he had raped the woman, according to the police report.

Tony had apparently assumed that the rape victim would not come forward because the shame would be too great.

Why don’t the victims feel more angry than ashamed?

This newly-wed’s rapists were also given a subtle benefit of rape justification’ because she probably opened the door and offered a glass of juice to her rapist and murderer. Did she know the rapist? That might justify the rape?

It has become a strategy to talk about a victim’s ‘shame’ instead of pointing out the rate of conviction, as reason for women not reporting.

If a victim was assured support instead of blame, do you think she would not have complained?

“on Feb. 5 a young man came into police station to report that his cellphone and laptop had been stolen. When the young man claimed they had been snatched near some isolated farmland at the edge of the city, Mr. Singh became suspicious: it was an unlikely place for a robbery.

He pressed for details, and eventually the young man admitted taking his girlfriend to the secluded area so they could be alone, and that five men had beaten him and raped her.”

Why didn’t the man want to say anything about the rape? He too had little faith in the police, and, he knew a couple being alone in a secluded spot would be seen as a bigger crime than a gang rape.

“I realized from the beginning that the girl would not help us,” the police said.

“The police will not be able to restore my honor.”

Is it really about honor?

Why don’t women report rapes to the police?

We all have heard about shame and honor etc. But there’s more.

Police. Police is the reason.

Have you ever taken a good look at the average Indian policeman? have you ever been to a police station?

A police station is an intimidating place. The cultural sophistication of the average policeman in India is pretty much that of the average roadside thug. Your average policeman hardly knows how to talk politely, is barely educated, is uncouth, brash and rude.

Is this the paragon of sensitivity a victim of rape will run to?

Add to this the rising number of custodial rapes which every one knows about. People will turn to a policeman only when they are desperate. Educated, rich people are abused by the police in India routinely and they have to call upon their networks and call upon little netas to get the policemen to treat them with some consideration.

Expect a policeman to humiliate a rape victim, turn her back, discourage her, be foul-mouthed or maybe rape her in turn.” [Click to read the article]

*

Such reporting tells a rapist that when his mother claims, “If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes.” someone looking to justify rape will promptly quote her with some satisfaction.

What else do we say that gives rapists so much confidence?

Related posts:

The rapists are listening gratefully.

If he were a a woman he would have filed a case against a man everyday.

Updated:

Another example of Victim Blaming by New York Times:
Victim-blaming in the New York Times’ Cleveland gang rape article.

(Thank You Ankita Prasad)

Do you remember this murdered couple who made a ‘dramatic reappearance’?

Let me try to explain why I generally find it difficult to believe what the police says.

“Lucknow, May 9 – A couple in Uttar Pradesh declared dead by police in an ‘honour killing’ Sunday made a dramatic reappearance, even as an incensed father threw his daughter from the roof of his house after her ’secret’ marriage, while another girl was killed for insisting on marrying according to her choice.

Ajit Saini and Anju Tomar of Muzaffarnagar district, who were declared dead by police after disappearing for the past few days, followed by the identification of a highly mutilated body as that of Saini, showed up before the police in the district.

Anju’s brother, Anuj was arrested Saturday and admitted to murdering Ajit.

‘I hacked him for the sake of honour… I wanted to save the prestige of my family and, therefore, killed him,’ Anuj told reporters. Police suspected that Anuj had killed his sister as well.

Saini and Anju had eloped, and on reading news reports about their ‘murder’, promptly called one of their relatives who, in turn, informed the Muzaffarnagar police.

Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal however maintained that the police were not at all at fault. ‘The police most naturally believed the confession by Anju’s brother. And what further confirmed the theory was the identification of the body by Ajit’s own family members,’ he said.” [Link]

This is just one such case, there are sure to be more like the teenager who was raped in Banda and then accused of stealing a cell phone to protect the rapist, “During preliminary inquiry, it was found that the 17-year-old girl was not only raped by the member of legislative assembly, but was also framed in a false theft case

How difficult would it have been to get a “confession” from Rajesh Talwar if it had not become such a high profile case’?

Dr Talwar said,

1.”I pleaded with this man to at least let me make a phone call or call a lawyer. I said, “I’m entitled to it. It’s my fundamental right as a citizen of this country.” The magistrate just looked at me in disgust. “Ja yahan se” (Get out of here).”

2. “The policemen produced a paper and asked me to sign it, and I had the presence of mind to tell them I will not sign anything. …I kept screaming that I was being framed. By this time the TV channels were all over the place… A policeman was saying, “Hum tere ko maar denge” – “We will kill you.”

3. They forced me to sign a confession. I wrote on the piece of paper in Englishwhich they couldn’t readthat it was not true.

4. Goli had been in and out of prison all his life, for small thefts, and so on. Apparently he would be picked up by the police whenever they needed a suspect for some crime.

Who do you think killed Aarushi Talwar?

I find it impossible to believe that her parents killed Aarushi Talwar. I have been following the case from day one and what was most glaring was the incompetence of the investigating authorities. Even a child knows about avoiding new finger prints at the place of crime, inspecting the entire house and use of luminol, examination of hair, blood samples etc, all of which were ignored in the beginning. Her parents also asked for forensic science to be used – which doesn’t seem to have happened yet.

When I discussed this with some friends one said, the parents didn’t look like they were grieving, but that means nothing, because they must have been in shock. I remember Nitish Katara‘s mother had the same look on her face.

Another argument about how they did not hear any thing that night. That does happen with windows AC, it’s very common in fact. There was another case in East Delhi where the live-in servant injured the three children, two died and the third one managed to wake up the parents who had heard nothing because their AC was on.

The golf clubs that made the CBI suspicious have been found to have no had blood on them.

So what happened?

It’s possible that Hemraj allowed some intruders, known to him, to come inside the house and maybe they had a drink or two and then maybe they went to the terrace and since Hemraj didn’t want them to stay for any further mischief, and since he was a witness, they killed him.  After killing him they killed Arushi also and left without any difficulty.

Do you think Aarushi’s parents could have killed her? If yes, why would they do that?

The ‘Honor Killing’ angle that UP police tried to give in the beginning, is difficult to accept, because the parents could have counseled the child, sent her to a hostel and they could have demanded that the servant to goes back to Nepal.

Parents killing their only child, born eleven years after their marriage – is difficult to believe.

There is no mention of Aarushi having any behavioral issues, which abused children tend to display. She was doing well at school. The family had also arranged for her to go to her Nani’s house in NOIDA, every day after school, so she wasn’t alone at home. Does all this indicate the kind of parents who could kill their child?

What do you think?

Updated:

Before you make up your mind, do take a look at what Tehelka says here. (Thank You Megha)

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main48.asp?filename=hub190211THE_HOUSE.asp

‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

I would watch any intimacy – even if it’s not very obviously sexual, between an adult and a child. I have blogged about how I had made sure my kids knew they had a right to complain if an adult’s touch, behavior, jokes or just looks made them uncomfortable. [Link] But if two young children (say ages 12-13 or younger) are found to be involved in non-penetrative sexual activity I would rather question the parents and other care givers than ask for the children to be treated like criminals.

There is a chance that they have been exposed to sexual abuse or some activity they do not quite understand. And even if it is felt that the children do understand (ages 12-15), I wonder if it’s a good idea to empower ‘the authorities’ to handle young children at this sensitive stage in their lives.

One has seen enough examples of how our police and some of our media handles any activity where sex is involved (Not to miss how this news has been reported, and on the front page). I remember the time when some of our media, used one such opportunity to ‘recreate the scene of crime‘… and their TRPs.

Here’s more reasons.

1. We are averse to Sex Education, so we refuse to guide children about anything related to sex. We’d rather change TV channels. Most Indians learn about sex from rape scenes in Bollywood movies, cheap porn and through their peer group.

2. But we are fine with 12 year olds being seen as criminals for something we are not comfortable even talking to them about?

3. And so, we are unhappy with the idea of decriminalizing an activity they are too young to completely understand the implications of being involved in. (taboo; social stigma for girls; emotional, cultural and moral issues involved; family-honor; responsible behavior etc).

4. Criminalizing such activity increases the risk of children being blackmailed into sexual abuse (by adults who ‘catch‘ them, like teachers, drivers, neighbors, ‘authorities’ etc) with threats of not just parental anger, but now also, legal action against them.

And this when they don’t really understand how seriously our society takes any activity related to sex. 🙄

Aparna Bhat, a Supreme Court lawyer who was part of a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights group that drafted the latest Bill said the gradation of age down to 12 years was to decriminalise sexual exploration by two children.

I don’t think the ‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’, it simply wants to ensure they are not treated like regular criminals for something they can’t completely understand.

Under the existing law, if two 12-year-olds get physical and if one childs parent complains, the other can be pulled up by the Juvenile Justice Board. The panel felt such minor things should be decriminalised, she said.

This does not make 12 years the ‘Age of Consent’. An adult will still be seen as a rapist if they have sex with a 12 year old, but if two 12 year olds are involved, they will be seen as two 12 year olds, not as regular criminals.

Raaj Mangal, chairperson of Delhi Child Welfare Committee said the Bill could prove “disastrous“ if it comes into effect. “Twelve, given the mind and maturity of a child, is not an age to give consent, be it penetrative or non-penetrative sex. In the name of decriminalising, you can`t keep sexual acts between children out of the notice of the authorities,“ said Mangal.

Should the likes of those who see Sex Education as ‘Blue Films’, have the power to judge sexual activity between two 12 year olds? Why not let the parents deal with non penetrative sex,  just like they deal with most other issues related to their children? (including Sex Education)

 

Related Posts:

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture.

Sex Education is not Blue Films.

It’s child abuse, not an affair.

When life ends at 12.

‘This is not America’, court tells married man in live-in relationship.

So this 22 year old young woman has started living with her sister’s husband (25), a father of two. The couple asked the court to protect them, because even though the wife is fine with their ‘friendship-agreement‘, the rest of the family isn’t. The Jeeja-Saali feel their lives are threatened.

Justice Hema Kohli pulled up the woman and the 25-year-old married man, saying, “This is not America. You have no right under the Hindu Marriage Act to marry twice. Anyway, the boy has his wife and she is alive and with two kids to look after…”

This kind of relationship is not new in India. I have blogged about a 15 year old who was reported ‘kidnapped’. She was found in another part of the city with her sister’s husband, 25.

The sister’s husband – the son in law, in Indian culture, is a very important family member. This man visited their house often and was treated with deference. He could beat his wife and his sister in law and control their lives because each felt the only way to save their ‘honor’ was to stay married or to get married to this man. The young sister in law felt she was unlikely to find a husband (even if this man ‘allowed‘ it) because she was ‘tainted‘. And Indian girls are raised to believe that Getting Married and Staying Married was their goal in life. So could the girl be blamed for thinking her happiness depended on this abusive, irresponsible, dishonest and married-man? If he didn’t marry her, she would be told, ‘Ab tu kaheen ki naheen rahi‘ (you are doomed now).

We have Bollywood songs (and I am sure folk songs also) describing the relationship between Jeeja-Sali. Often the son in law of the house is the only male, the young sisters in law have ever interacted with and they have grown up hearing jokes like ‘saali to aadhi gharwali‘ (a sister in law is half a wife). Also a ‘Happily Married Daughter’ is a status symbol in India, so even if the sister in law is very young (say 13 or 14) and even if she seems confused (flattered, even attracted, ashamed and guilty) with such attentions in an otherwise segregated society, the elders tend to ignore the child-abuse (that is what it is).

Most importantly, for a live-in relationship to be legally a Live-in Relationship, both, the man and his partner are required to be unmarried. A married man cannot have a ‘Live-In’ relationship.

In ‘My Feudal Lord’ a Pakistani wife, Tehmina Durrani describes the relationship between her sister, a 13 year old Aadila and her middle aged, violent and abusive husband. I blogged about another young girl, related to my maid, in Delhi. [Linked above] Such cases are not uncommon this side.

I have not heard of such cases happening in America. Are married American men permitted to marry twice? Do American wives get bullied into saying they are fine with their husbands ‘friendship-agreements’ with their sisters? Do young American girls feel they must marry the first man they ever find attractive, even if he is abusive and married?

I think the definition of a Live-in Relationship needs to made clearer to such couples. It definitely is not another name for polygamy. [Linked above]

Three Saudi youths were arrested for attempting to sexually assault a teenager…

Teenager escapes rape attempt (in Taif,  Saudi Arabia)

Did you find this news difficult to believe? I did.

Is the victim going to be stoned for attracting the molesters attention?

No.

“The victim told police, after  escaping from the youths, that while walking down the road a car with three men pulled up and invited the victim to join them. When the victim refused to get in, two of the men tried to drag the victim  into the vehicle, but the victim resisted and managed to run away. They had also taken the victim’s mobile phone.

With the help of a Bangladeshi worker, the victim called police and described the car the attackers were driving.

A police patrol detained a car matching the victim’s description when it passed through a checkpoint later in the night.

After being interrogated, the youths admitted to trying to sexually assault the victim. They also confessed that they had sold the victim’s mobile phone for SR300 in a nearby market.

They took the police to the shop where they sold the phone and officers interrogated the shopkeeper.” (News from here with minor changes, to make a point…)

Can you guess why this victim is not going to be blamed for this (attempted) crime?

‘Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!’ is on facebook.

As recommended by Allytude in a comment on,

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

Facebook group created. 🙂

Say No To Victim Blaming

Add your tips and links to any blog posts that deal with Sexual Harassment or Sexual Crimes against women, the right way.


Please click below to join:

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

Thanks SR, for this link.

In thousands of ways, our culture has conditioned us to anticipate rape as a natural consequence of violating social norms. Rape myths serve to keep women out of the public sphere, and rape culture wants you to believe that the only safe place for a woman is her kitchen.

Don’t talk to strangers, wear revealing clothing,… take public transportation, travel alone, …because you will get raped… when you think about it, that’s a pretty effective way of maintaining social control over women and…

The list of don’ts goes on and on, each rule wildly impractical, blatantly inconsistent with actual statistics related to sexual assault

The myth is that rapists are strangers who attack because they are provoked and lose all control.

The fact is that in 70% of cases, the rapist is someone known to the victim, including young children and old people. Most attacks are planned. [Link]

Why do we have entire dossiers on How to Not Get Raped and no guidelines for How to Not Rape People? We need a cultural revolution. [click to read the article]

I agree.

Here’s a list of Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work.
“1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident”you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

Lack of sex education could mean that a rapist may not be sure of what rape is. A lot of Indians learn about sex from rape scenes in Indian movies or from pornography, both can be misleading.

I found this site useful.

1. Do not think you have the right to rape a woman.

2. Learn what rape is. Rape is forcing someone to have sex with you when they do not want to.

3. Most rapes are committed by men who know the women they are raping. If the woman you are forcing to have sex with you happens to be your girlfriend, your neighbor, your cousin, your sister, or your wife, it is still RAPE.

4. When someone says no to you, that means you have no right to force yourself on them.

5. When someone pushes you away, or otherwise inclinates, verbally or with physical movement that they do not want to have sex with you, and you force yourself on them, that is rape. [Click to read more]

And here are some more tips for prevention of sexual assaults.

1. While traveling by bus, don’t start moving towards people  to stand close to them. Don’t pinch, grope, stare at, fall on them or push them. Don’t stand in their way, in a way that they would be forced to touch you.

2. Don’t spend your free time standing on street corners staring at people going about their daily lives. Don’t whistle at them. Street sexual harassment is responsible for thousands of Indians not being allowed to study, travel, work or just hang out with friends.

3. Don’t start singing when you see them, don’t push your friends towards them, don’t try to get their attention by laughing, staring, mock-wrestling, falling etc.

3. Don’t assume they want you to approach them because they are smiling at each other.

4. If  people are out after dark, it is not because they want you to rape them. (Fact: Nobody wants to be raped).

5. They wear skinny jeans/tight skirts because they like to, not because they want your attention and not because they are asking to be raped.

6. Fact: When people say ‘No’, they do not mean ‘yes’.

7. Don’t throw acid on them if they turned down your frandship request. Don’t spread stories about how you rejected their offer of frandship.

8. If they ask you the time, help or directions, give them if you can, and then move away. Asking for help does not mean they want you to assault them.

9. If people are not frowning it does not mean they want you to approach them.

10. If they are drunk you still have no right to rape or molest them.

11. You cannot rape them even if they are sleeping with somebody else. Or even if they are sleeping (or have slept) with more than one person.

12. Their morals are not your concern.

Feel free to add more.

I also believe in such reminders. The society needs to hear in no uncertain terms that the criminal, not the victim is responsible for this crime (just like any other crime).

Updated to add:

As recommended by Allytude

FaceBook group created

Please join and add your tips and links to any blog posts that deal with sexual harassment or sexual crimes against women, the right way.

By dealing with the offender.

Let’s say no to Victim Blaming.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!