Men Defining Rape: A History

What made it socially (and even legally) acceptable for a man to sexually assault a woman (in most parts of the world)?

But what also made it unacceptable for a woman to ‘not-prevent’ such assaults (without protesting, reporting, stopping or punishing the assailants)???

Read to find out.

Men Defining Rape: A History

—By Erika Eichelberger

Men have been in the business of deciding when it is okay and when it is not okay to rape women for thousands of years.
Check out our timeline of the male notions and common-law statutes that have defined rape over time…
Property theft: The Code of Hammurabi, one of the first sets of written laws, which dates to about 1780 BC (and contains the old “eye for an eye”), defines rape of a virgin as property damage against her father. If you were married, sorry lady: You were an adulteress. Punishment? You get thrown in the river.
God is a dude:Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says if you rape a virgin, you have to give her dad 50 shekels and take her to the altar.
So we know why these five Patna gang rapists thought they could marry the victim.
Please read and share: Men Defining Rape: A History.
Edited to ask:
How do you think does an average Indian define rape?
Is marital rape seen as rape in India?
Do we see rape of sex workers as rape or sort of a protection for sisters and mothers of the rest of the country?
Related posts:

How do women benefit from religion?

Some of us compare places of worship to clubs and justify the rights of the members and the management committee to make membership rules and have their own codes of dressing and conduct etc. Sounds fair.

Now, it would be fine if these management committees made rules that applied only to the members. This does not happen. Most places of worship are quite obsessed with the conduct, moral values, honor and purity (and lots more) of non-members. They also make rules that directly concern non-members, generally without keeping their interests (or wishes or aspirations) in mind,  so there are obvious double standards in their rules.

Members also seem to give themselves special privileges and entitlements (like our politicians).

These club members interfere and prohibit non-members from joining other clubs or creating any clubs of their own where they might give an equal status to themselves. This is done with fear-inducing threats, which sometimes seem too far fetched but doubting their word is not permitted. Threats of violence or physical harm are also heard of.

This seems to apply to almost every religion, maybe because they were created when human rights weren’t treated with much concern. Many human cultures  seem to have evolved since then.

How do women benefit from religion? Not how they could benefit, if religion wasn’t misinterpreted, but how they do benefit from religion the way it has been interpreted for centuries. Has religion made life better for women?

What do you think of this purification ceremony? Who decides, and on what basis that God’s presence is not enough to purify a place?

A purification ceremony was performed at the Lord Ayyappa temple here on Monday after a 35-year-old woman entered the shrine and offered worship in violation of the custom barring entry of girls and women in the 10-50 age group.

The ceremony was performed at the 18 sacred steps (pathinettam padi) leading to the main temple, and near the sanctum sanctorum, temple administration officials said.

Temple tantri (traditional high priest) led the purification ceremony, Travancore Devaswom Board officials said.

The woman, identified as Saraswathi from Andhra Pradesh, managed to climb the highly-revered 18 steps, entered the temple complex and offered worship on Monday afternoon.

She was spotted by Rapid Action Force personnel while she was near Mallikapuram sub-temple in the complex.

RAF personnel handed her over to the local police, who, however, let her go and did not register any case.

Jayamala case

A controversy broke out in 2006 after Kannada actor of yesteryear Jayamala claimed to have entered the temple during her prime and touched the idol of the presiding deity, claiming that she was pushed into the sanctum sanctorum by the surging crowd.

A case was registered against Jayamala and a charge sheet was filed in a court last year against her in connection with her claim but it was stayed by the Kerala High Court last October.

[From ‘The Hindu’]

Related posts:

Some doors are different… they are closed for fifty percent of the population.

Religion makes us kind and good.

Two more categories added.

Added on Sept 6th (Thanks Unmana)

36. Women and finances.

37. What’s in a woman’s name?

Now there are 37 categories.

Please click here to read the complete list of categories for Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards.

Please bear with frequent updates, I am trying to avoid leaving out any categories which might be relevant.


Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards:Last date September 10th

Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards.

Last date for submission of entries Sept 10th.

The winners in each category will be announced around end-September.

Finally, any two entries, from any categories which the judges feel should be read by as many people as possible, win cash prizes of Rs 10,000/-  each.

Please click on the category name to submit an entry.

Do leave a comment if you have any suggestions or queries.

1. Feminism is good for the society.

2. Female Foeticide.

3. Girl Child/Daughters

4. Child Abuse

5. Teenage Issues

6. Street Sexual Harassment

7. ‘Aww’ -Inspiring parenting moments.

8. Sexual Violence.

9. How important is it for a girl to Get Married and Stay Married?

10. Joint Family and Indian Daughters in law

11. The Joru Ka Gulaam (The JKG)

12. Working Women

13. Homemakers/SAHM (Non-earning working-women)

14. All women want to be mothers.

15. Parenting.

16. Honor Killings and the concept of Honor.

17. Divorce

18. Dowry

19. Domestic Violence and Verbal Abuse

20. Books, Ads, TV Serials and Movies against (or not!) gender stereotypes and bias.

21. Relationships Gyaan

22. Gender Stereotypes and SAGS

23. Senior Citizens

24. Animal Rights

25. Mythology, Traditions, Religion (and how they interpret women’s place in society).

26. Social Crimes Against Women – Posts that cover more than one social issue, like widow burning, FGM, sex selection, dowry, victim-blaming, honor killing etc

27. Oppressive Customs

28. Inspiring Stories

Added on Aug 5 2011

29. Arranged Marriages.

30. Love Marriages (Choice Marriages)

31. Indian Family Values.

32. Sexist Language and Jokes, indicate a Sexist Mindset?

33. LGBT Issues. (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues)

Added on Sept 5th

34. The way a woman dresses…

35. A list of blogs that deal with Gender issues, women’s empowerment, girl child  etc.

Added on Sept 6th

36. Women and finances.

37. What’s in a woman’s name?

Added on Sept 7th

38. Indian Culture and Moral Policing.

39. Contraception.

Is it possible that the need to be a man or to be physically stronger in violent situations is overrated?

Have you ever understood why in Bollywood fight scenes the heroines stand and shriek while the heroes thrash the villains? There are times when the gun is right next the heroine but she doesn’t do what even a child would (hide it, use it, push it to the hero, hit the bad guy with it). Are women like this in real life? (If yes, then is it genetic or social conditioning?)

Have you ever been in a violent or dangerous situation – or simply in an uncomfortable situation (street sexual harassment/eve teasing) and found support from other people present there? Were they always men?

What do you think is needed in most violent crimes?

If one goes by the movies (and Gupta Ji i.e Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta), it seems physical strength and fighting skills are necessary, but in real life, dangerous situations often require quick reflexes, presence of mind and of course a calm mind. Why? Because an average criminal is generally nervous and untrained, could hurt if panicked and could in fact be careless if he doesn’t see any men (or anybody who he believes might put up a fight) around.

What is a man expected to do that a woman won’t (or can’t) in such a situation?

During a robbery attempt in Bombay (Jogeshwari, I think) some years ago, a child locked her room from inside and raised an alarm. The robbers escaped but her mother’s life was saved.

In another case in a robbery in Noida (in the 90s) once a mother begged armed robbers to let her two children live – many family members, all other children and men were killed/injured but these two children were spared.

When I was a teenager our house was broken into one night by armed robbers and my 42 kgs, five feet one inch, mausi (then 27) distracted one of the armed robbers (“Marega?! Maar ke dikha!” she asked) just long enough to let me escape and raise alarm. (And still for many years I continued to think that having men around was the only way to stay safe.)

I have blogged about how my making a noise made four army jawans stop harassing a woman passenger in a train. In another case, the boyfriend negotiated with the three men who wanted to rape the girl friend (on a lonely spot) he assured them she was willing to go with them but they mustn’t be violent and the men became careless, then he threw a brick on one of them and the couple managed to escape. He did not and could not possibly have fought with themMasood too blogged about how he once rescued a woman from being raped, he did not use physical strength either.

And now Wendi Murdoch attacked the man who tried to attack her husband, convincing me further that the need to be a man or to be physically stronger in violent situations is overrated. Do you think courage and quick reflexes maybe more important than physical strength? Can people (women mainly) be trained to handle violent crimes by also understanding how an average criminal is an ordinary person, often very nervous and quite unlikely to be trained for crime unlike in the movies?

Do you feel safer only with men around?  What exactly is a man expected to do in such situations that women cannot do? Fight with armed attackers? Is it fair to expect an untrained man to do that?

Why does Gender Sensitivity in Legal Language matter.

At first there were objections to a man in a live in relationship being expected to provide palimony to a partner. One objection was that this would amount to permitting him polygamy. That the man would be giving from the legal wife’s share to the live-in partner.

Now both, the man and his partners are required to be unmarried.

(3) they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage including being unmarried,

[Click to read more]

I think that sounds fair.


The Supreme Court today ruled that if a man has a live-in relationship with a woman only for sexual reasons, it cannot amount to a relationship that entitles either partner to the benefits of marriage.

Sounds fair too.

Then what is the objection? The objection is to the use of the words, ‘keep‘ and ‘one night stand’.

The court said, “If a man has a keep whom he maintains financially, and uses mainly for sexual purpose and as a servant, it would not be a relationship in the nature of marriage.”

“The words used in the judgment are derogatory. Words like ‘keep’ and ‘one night stand’ are not legal language. The Court has to be gender sensitive. It is like setting the clock back after the Supreme Court passed the historic judgement in the Visakha case,” ASG Jaising had stated.

Advocate Mridula Kadam said, “…Such words are used by uneducated people…”

I agree.

Advocate Kranti Sathe said: “… I would certainly feel offended if words like ‘keep’ were used by any judge hearing my case.” [Link]

I would too.

“I am concerned about the image of the Supreme Court of India, which is known for its sensitivity to women as you can see in its Vishaka (sexual harassment of women in workplace) judgment. I am a member of the international body ‘Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women’, which fights to get rid of discriminating language and stereotypes against women. I fear the remarks in the judgment may put the clock back as it is not in a legal language befitting the Supreme Court,” she said in favour of expunging the remarks in the judgment. [Link]

I was not surprised to read comments disagreeing with ASG Jaising. Some of the objections implied that ‘such women’ deserved such names. Words and language have the power to change mindsets. Legal language is not street language.  We do not use the street words used for describing incest in legal language do we?

Here is one of the many reactions, and exactly why legal language needs to objective, accurate and free of any judgment.

“The society defines cetain relationship with certain names which get to be accepted language of daily use . Some names get derrogated over the perid of time because of the kind of relationship or the effects f relationship on the society. Over a period of time such as this kalyoug some of such relationships are getting glorified but they donot have the guts to be called by old name… In indian socity husband and the wife a couple legal one is respected and cherished and it should not be equated to the status of live in , mutawa, keep,slave ,temporary relationship. Democracy and freedom does not mean that we can do anything . We may change the previous norms of society by discussion and law but not accept them after it is done for the convenience and pleasure of few.” [From here]

Related Posts: Every blogger should mind their language.

Imperfect lives.

On March 7th 1964, Dr Henry delivers his twins, and while his wife is under sedation, decides to give away the ‘imperfect‘ twin, born with Down’s Syndrome.

Phoebe, the twin with Down’s Syndrome is sent to an institution. Here’s what the institution was like.

Dr Henry tells his wife they had a still born daughter and a healthy son. She wanted to hold the baby once, visit the grave and hold a Memorial Service…  She was advised to ‘move on’, and to focus on the child she had.

‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by  Kim Edwards touched a chord. 

Most of us have clear guidelines laid out for exactly what can make us happy. Who we marry, who we divorce, who we raise, who we abandon, what careers we choose, who we respect and whose opinions, feelings or wishes we can’t be expected to take seriously (like a child with Down’s syndrome)…

I liked this scene.

We expect happiness to come from success in career, being married at the right time, to a conventionally suitable partner and raising perfectly formed, class toppers and merit listed kids. Anything less could only mean disappointments and frustration?

Watch the trailer. (I hope the movie is as good as the book). Read the book. And think again.

The book is about women, men, children and families who fit, and those who don’t fit, into the ‘fit-to-be-happy‘ mold.

The book is also about some of us controlling the lives of some others amongst us. Phoebe’s mother longs for another baby but once again has no say in the matter. All with best of intentions to protect her from any further unhappiness (i.e. another imperfect child). For her own good. Her sister’s life shows how life is still a choice each one of us makes.

The book is also about women’s changing lives as they learn to break the norms and take control of their own lives.

And about how little (or how much) our happiness depends on how conventionally perfect our lives are.


Feminism : Saam Daam Dand Bhed.

“They’re not burning bras, or burqas. But a bunch of non-conformist Muslim women activists are making an attempt to free the sorority from the clutches of a patriarchial clergy.

Last week, Lucknow-based feminist Shaista Ambar was on television again. This time she was siding with the three daughters-in-law… who had beaten up some maulvis at Sultanul Madaris… The maulvis had given talaqnamas (divorce documents) to the women’s husbands without consulting them when they tried to get justice against the advances of their father-in-law.” [Link]

[Click to read the entire article]

“Spreading wings:

Islamic feminism is a decade and a half old. In the 1990s Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish, Moroccan, South African, American, feminists and religious scholars, among others, found they were all simultaneously working on reinterpretations of women’s rights under Islam. It is now well on its way to becoming a robust international movement with more and more women pushing for a progressive Islamic discourse to promote gender equality.

And they aren’t alone, Himanshu Rai (Thanks Himanshu!) sent me this video link.

Click, or watch this video here. I understand what she means though I wish one didn’t have to do it this way, I wish it was possible to ask for human rights for all without having to reassure them you were not challenging their cultural/religious values 😦 But one has to be practical. Whatever works. Saam. Daam. Dand. Bhed.

Coming up next: A post dedicated to the Pinkest of Protesters 🙂  Guess who? Special award in the Blogscars for the correct guesses!  😯

Related posts: Remembering Bra Burning Bogeymen on Women’s Day.

No women and troubles allowed in this wedding.

In Saudi Arabia,

TABUK: Wedding cards usually include a note asking invitees not to bring children. However, one Saudi groom decided to take things a step further by putting a note on his wedding card asking guests not to bring women.

The man’s decision has left many people surprised, but the youth is adamant saying women cause all sorts of trouble and problems, and that it costs a lot to cater for women. [Link]

Yes, he is marrying a woman (It’s mentioned).  I am not sure if same sex marriages are allowed in Saudi Arabia.

No there’s nothing about her backing out yet.

Yes, she probably won’t be attending many weddings in the coming years.

Irresponsible girls who throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person…

In response to “Don’t let me down dear daughter!”, a comment expressed this opinion.

“In defense of parents – and while absolutely hating my parents for their emotional blackmail – I do see where they might come from. I have seen innumerable girls (and sadly this still applies to girls in our society) throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person.

These girls typically run away with the first guy who gathers enough courage to ask them out the first time. Typically this guy does not have a great value system, any sense of responsibility, any education,ambition, willingness to improve their lot in life, respect for women and so on and on. As a result, the said girl either lives her life in grief or returns to her parents home where none of guys among us will marry her anymore.
I have seen way too many examples of such irresponsible behaviour and so do not have any hopes of parents granting girls “freedom” within bounds.

As they say, it is the limitation that defines any freedom.”

I was going to delete this but further comments indicated that this was written in all seriousness.

My response:

I wonder why don’t we consider guiding these daughters instead of locking them up. That’s a more reliable ‘protection’. But is it really about protecting the girl from unhappiness? I don’t think so, because we don’t kill to protect.


Strangely, this  protection is only from falling in love (etc.) – not from violence, being burnt alive, abuse, murder or rape in their marital homes, even if this home is chosen by the parents.

Can an intelligent adult be expected to blindly trust such hypocrisy?

If the arguments given are honest and logical. If caste, community and the neighbour’s father in laws’ third cousin’s  opinion are not the reason given for rejection of a partner a daughter (so lustfully!) chooses.  Then the opinion of the elders would be considered worth taking. The parents have to earn this trust.

Sometimes girls are pushed into running away to escape forced-marriages or other problems at home. If the family accepts and supports their choices, girls won’t be forced to run away, they will see their home as their sanctuary and support system – as the place one always wants to come back to.

Assuming they do choose badly, could it be because they were not allowed to form independent opinions or choices?  While anybody can make a mistake  (including the parents) – some basic guidelines could make choosing easier for the daughters, but parents don’t want to hear of girls choosing their own partners.  They would rather kill them. One Khap supporter claimed only prostitutes choose their own partners.

When the parents arrange a marriage, do they always choose well?

Giribala said, ‘Freedom to obey’ is not ‘freedom.’ And when the obedient girl marries the person of her parents’ choice, she gets the ‘freedom to obey’ for the rest of her life!’

Freedom to obey also means, they can’t come back home.  Sometimes they must adjust till they die. Sometimes they kill themselves, sometimes they  are burnt to death, sometimes they are sixty before they realize they can’t go on. They are told their happiness depends on their luck. Does this make a daughter see the parents as her genuine well wishers?  Think about it, would you trust someone who says it’s your Destiny to live an unhappy life and your Duty to serve those who make life unlivable for you?

Social conditioning has such powers – some girls do.

Some rebel.

They can see that if they are old enough to get married then they are also old enough to choose their partners. Nobody has more right to decide who they marry than the girls themselves…

Sounds like common sense? But we tend to put custom (i.e. old habits ) over common sense.

There are some with unlimited freedom to control other citizen’s lives . It seems Gujarat  government has forgotten that these citizens are voters too.

GANDHINAGAR/SURAT: The Gujarat government has asked courts not to register marriages unless there’s parental consent in writing. (Click to read – Thanks for this link Desi Girl)