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)

So are the men offended?

Believe it or not, there are many who think the Star Plus anthem is great because the woman is being allowed to work, to have a girl-child, fly kites, jog, wear track pants, dance, blow kisses at her husband from her terrace; her husband finds her worthy of his attentions, her in laws don’t object to this, (because) her mother in law is not abusive, and her family cares to celebrate her birthday.  What more can a woman ask for?

And in return of all these privileges (which the rest of the family always had anyway) all she has to do is be a never tiring, ever smiling, uncomplaining super woman.

GB explains why it’s okay for a woman to not be perfect and still expect to be loved.

I’m really tired of seeing women who don’t get tired. Or pissed. On some days, I just wake up feeling pissed. I make carping statements, I invite fights, I act like my hair is on fire. In short, I make life difficult for people around me.

But I also believe that I’m effing worth the trouble.

I don’t need to be an angel to be wanted or loved. Because the people around me are not angels either. And I put up with their drama because I care about them. So why in god’s name do I have to keep smiling … in order to be the perfect woman? (Click to read the entire post.)

Preeti Shenoy wants to know,

“Why is she so happy that she has to wake up before everyone else while that lazy lump of her husband sleeps blissfully and then she also has to give him his towel in the shower between cooking her children’s lunches!” (More on Buzz)

Amrita of IndieQuill wonders,

What’s the kid going to grow up thinking – “My mom works and cooks and cleans and dances and sings and is nice to all the birdies in the sky. My dad… um… he drinks tea and goes to work.” Way to be a hero to your kid….


Seriously, it’s men who should be offended.

I wonder what the men think.

____________________________________

To read my interview with ‘Spark’ click here.

When a daughter refuses to go back…

Sita and Geeta worked for us when we were newlyweds. Geeta was eight, Sita a little older. We offered to sponsor Geeta’s education but their mother said she had seven kids to raise and she needed the girls to work.

We found the kids adorable, bought them trinkets and treats, but we let them do the dishes and clean our homes.  Then we moved to another part of the city and lost all contact.

Around six years later I was in-between-maids and buying veggies when a young woman in a colorful sari and bangles greeted me with a huge smile. She was Sita. She said it was God’s wish that she found me, she needed help.

She moved into our servant’s quarters and pleaded with me to speak to her parents and let her stay there and work –she wanted to leave her husband. She said they were married three months ago, she was afraid of him, he had a bad temper and he had threatened to kill her if she tried to leave him, he also threatened to chuck her out of his house. She didn’t care, she was sure he’d kill her if she lived with him. She hated him. She feared her in-laws also. She had been making similar appeals to other families she had worked for. She looked afraid.

Today I feel if a girl says she does not want to go back to her husband’s home, it is reason enough to let her stay. No arguments. No attempts to ‘reason’ with her. No assumptions that she is behaving like a spoiled brat who has never learnt to adjust with her in laws. No insisting that she would ‘get used to it’. No talk about her ‘sanskar’ or her duty towards her parents. No demands that she must try to make the relationship work.

But I was inexperienced then. I asked her how she was going to manage on her own. I asked her what she did to anger her husband. I wondered if she liked another man. (As if that was the perfect reason to send her right back to her husband). Basically like everybody else I assumed she couldn’t possibly know what was good for her. I thought her parents (obviously) would want the best for her, and would do what was best for her*, even if they had married her to a much older man when she was less than seventeen.

Her parents did speak to her husband but this angered him, he insulted them too. Within weeks her in laws wanted them back in their joint family home in another part of Bombay, they left.

We moved to another city and I forgot about her. Such stories are extremely common; most girls learn to live like this, and their marriages ‘work’. Happy or not, they manage to keep the system of semi-forced marriages going. We Indians are grateful to thousands of Sitas who live with some violence and abuse. Their sacrifices are appreciated.

What is happening in Afghanistan hurt because it is not unfamiliar? Even though we are conditioned to treat anything common as ‘normal’.

Around five years later we were back in Bombay and one day I called a malish wali. She saw me and started crying. She was Sita’s mother. She said Sita had died of third degree burns. She was making tea and the stove burst, and her sari caught fire. Her in-laws did not inform the parents until two days later.  While dying Sita begged her mother not to leave her three months old son with her husband. She told her it was not an accident; her husband had poured kerosene on her. She made conflicting statements in her dying moments. This seems to happen all the time.

But I read, “If it’s an accident, you can almost always escape the fire. It’s not really possible to burn all of the body,”

Everybody blamed the parents. Her father died of grief within six months of her death.

Sita’s husband died a year later, of something that made his body turn black as coal. Her mother said god punished him.

She sent the grandson back to his paternal grandmother when he was three years old.  She wants him to be close to his paternal grandmother so that he does not loose his father’s share in property.

I felt little sympathy for her, although she brought a happily married Geeta to meet me. Nothing had really changed for her; I feel she would still do the same if any other daughter of hers were to come pleading for support.

And we have millions of parents like this taking life changing decisions for their helpless daughters.

And this doesn’t just happen in the lower or uneducated classes.

Slavery by any other name

Roots’ by Alex Haley is about black slavery in America.  The author traces his roots right back to a village on The Coast of the Gambia, West Africa.  The book “… details slave family life—birth, courtship, marriage, death and the ever-present fear of being sold off and having to leave your kin…” Time

The white Masters and Slave Dealers had learnt very fast that once a slave woman had a child (who they owned), she was easy to control. The children were sold for profit*, but the women had more children, so the easy control continued.

Recently, President Hamid Karzai has made an unthinkable deal…  in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election. (Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch).

Afghanistan has enacted a new legislation empowering men (even further).

It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers.

So the mothers give birth but have no rights on their children**. Do the children have any say in this?

Who does such a law empower?

* * *

The slaves needed their ‘owners’ permission to go anywhere. Travel documents and Passes were required to step out of their homes so they could not ‘escape’ (they always dreamt of escape).

The initial version of the law included articles that imposed drastic restrictions on Shia women, including a requirement to ask permission to leave the house except on urgent business,

(In Saudi Arabia officials continue to require women to obtain permission from male guardians to conduct their most basic affairs, like traveling or receiving medical care)

* * *

Slaves who failed to comply were sent for flogging (for disobedience, insolence, answering back or bigger crimes). In ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ a young slave girl pleads that even more than the physical pain she hated the looks on the faces of the men who flogged the slave girls.

This is something women in Afghanistan do not have to worry about anymore (though they still have to in some other places), but it seems the rest of the conditions are not much different. Such barbaric laws were supposed to have been relegated to the past with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, yet Karzai has revived them and given them his official stamp of approval.

“The law gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands.”

I am very curious to know how any society benefits from a law like this. What kind of men would want these laws?

The subtle users of such laws are a larger number; they just become surer about their ‘rights’. Nimmy’s blogged about the claim that… “because women will be ‘out of service’ during 7-10 or even 15 days during a month and that is a very good reason for men to get another wife so that he needn’t go to a prostitute”

What else do they marry for?

But why do women marry? Women are supposed to need companionship, respect, children, emotional and financial support, romance, sex, protection and a lot more time from their spouses, so I would have thought its women, not men who need multiple spouses.

But knowing these laws I wonder if women are better off unmarried. Two things that seldom make news are any talk of a well drafted nikahnama, and a girl’s right to say no to a marriage.

Like did 12 year old Ameena say yes to marry this man?

A few years ago, an airhostess rescued a 12 year old little girl Ameena, who was crying whilst boarding the plane in Hyderabad in India, accompanied by an elderly Arab sheikh husband. The news was all over the papers, and I remember, when he was asked how he could even dream of marrying a girl young enough to be his granddaughter, he had arrogantly responded with a claim that he could marry her because he could still get her pregnant.

That was all that marriage meant to him. And should mean to her… ? But who cares what marriage means to her.

It seems his idea of marriage was not much different from the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who designed this law ‘in secret’ and is ‘supported by conservative Shia leaders in parliament’, the ‘law directly contravenes rights provided under the Afghan constitution, which bans any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan’.

The law “also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her.”

How do we define prostitution? Forced prostitution.

**…. for she knows that tomorrow any man, however vile and brutal, however godless and merciless, if he only has money to pay for her, may become owner of her daughter, body and soul;

*”And, Emmeline, if we shouldn’t ever see each other again, after tomorrow, – if I’m sold way up on a plantation somewhere, and you somewhere else, – always remember…”

(From Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Note: I had missed this news until I read Sraboney’s post here, and then received this link by email.  Thanks to both : )

I never can sit and watch injustice.

Tagged by Indyana. Well what do ‘I never…’?
I can never sit and watch injustice. I think nobody should. And there is always something we can do. This brilliant advertisement shows how little it takes to deter a bully from taking full advantage of our diffidence and indifference. Please do Bell Bajao. (Do ring the door bell)

Today morning I made my two maids watch this. The look on their faces brought a lump to my throat.

Thanks to Monika whose post reminded me of my resolve to spread the word about these inspiring breakthrough advertisements I was awestruck by their simplicity and … well whoever directed these videos has a fan 🙂

I pass this tag to Kislay Chandra, Unmana, Ajit and homecooked. Would love to know when do they say “I never…”.

ADDED A VIDEO IN THE COMMENTS.