Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Go on, once again blame her !

The age old, world wide blame game against women rules, that women be blamed for all the world’s woes, including their own . As though it was not enough to blame them for children’s non performace, the undeniable increase in cases of rape and dowry harassment ( and simultaneous demands that the pro women enabling clauses introduced in older laws be struck down),a BJP woman MLA from Indore asserts that lazy mothers are to be blamed for the phenomenal rise in the sales of quick cooking two minute noodles. The lady who appeared to be extremely well fed, cited her own home maker mother as a positive role model for today’s young mothers who, she said, had served them painstakingly prepared and healthier (?) meals of Paranthas, Kheer and Halwas.  Not only was her claim about the better nutritional value of the above mentioned items highly questionable, given their calorie and cholesterol enhancing ghee content, but the underlying hint that compared to home makers mothers cooking Indian food, young (and harassed and mostly working) mothers today are selfish and uncaring was both incorrect and uncalled for.
It is against this mind set,  that one must examine frequent and pervasive assertions by powerful politicians, that most reported cases of rape by person or persons known to the female victim, are actually acts of consensual sex somehow gone wrong . The charges of forced sex by women may largely be propelled by the revenge motive . So they ask that the new and harsh penalties for rapists must be suspended ( because boys will be boys !) and victims must share if not the entire, at least half the blame for their own violation.
The Indian society still seems to follow the medieval saint poet Tulsidas’s dictum that reserves the harshest penalties for violation of four categories of women : the daughter, the sister, wife of younger brother and the daughter in law. For paid sex workers, girls out on a date with boy friends and wives,  consent for sex is automatically assumed, and it is taken that they are un rapable. Consent is a very important issue when debating rape. It is supposed to be women’s form of control over intercourse, different from, but equal to the customary practice of male making the first move. Man, it is said ( often with a leer), proposes and woman disposes. But can’t they see, this model is all wrong. It presents consent as a free exercise in equal choice for both man and woman, but turns a blind eye to the underlying structure of constraint and disparity that inhibits Indian women across all class, caste and age divisions.  Because male female consensual equality is mostly assumed, instead of being analysed carefully, ambiguous cases of consent are mostly referred to as, ‘half won arguments in the bedroom’. Why not ‘half lost’? because custom and law have both handed the lead to the male, without any guarantee that should the woman choose to exercise her right to refuse him sex, she would still remain in a position to control the situation .

This approach to non consensual sex reflects a belief held widely by Indians that women can not be violated by men they know. Fact is, most rapes occur in homes and the perp is a man the female victim has known. And no, it is not less traumatic to be assaulted by a known man whom the victim has trustingly opened up to, expecting protection not assault.  


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