How Should We Respond To Rape And Misogyny In India?

How Should We Respond To Rape And Misogyny In India?
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In all the gloom of rape and misogyny in India, see how good, decent men respond to the crisis and learn about rape prevention measures that we can implement.

These are dark days for women in India. Horrific rapes and assaults show no signs of abating. Even worse, we have a number of men spouting regressive views on women and casting aspersions on their motives and morality.

Here are some of the misogynistic statements we’ve read in the aftermath of the Hyderabad vet’s rape and murder.

  • Women should carry condoms and cooperate with rapists in order to save them from being killed instead of calling the police for help.
  • Rapes happen because women are adamant bitches.
  • Legalising ‘rapes without violence’ is the only way to control the brutal killings of rape victims.
  • You can’t always only blame boys.
  • The solution is to impose restrictions on women.

Freda Adler, US author, educator and theorist rightly quotes, “Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.”

Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused. ~ Freda Adler

It’s no coincidence that the film industry in India is facing its own #MeToo crisis? The result of misogyny in India is that Bollywood welcomes convicted rapists back with open arms, while rape victims suffer humiliation and loss of work.

But do all men think this way? No, they don’t, nor do these misogynistic statements represent the opinions of ALL men.

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Indian men speak out against misogyny in India

There are many good, decent, respectful, caring men in India and we thought their opinions on this matter deserved to be heard too. If you’re a man who’s outraged by the statements above, please post your views in the comments section below.

Ujjwal Singh, an IT professional and inventor living in Bangalore calls such men cowards preaching cowardice, making more women more vulnerable. He says:

As a man, I do feel it is more my responsibility to do whatever I can in defeating such vile mindset that culminates into such unthinkable heinous crimes and makes it even worse with demoralizing, atrocious and mindless remarks as the one made by a filmmaker on Twitter.

After one is compromised – the options become limited. That becomes a separate matter. But grooming a generation of cowards – what is going to be the future of that people? One has to wonder… What then are such women going to teach their sons: close your eyes if you see someone getting raped and plead for safe passage?

Most women don’t want men to go out of their way – and explicitly express respect towards them. They simply want men to NOT disturb them – in other words, to NOT DISRESPECT them.

According to Al Jazeera, videos that appeared to depict rape are being sold in Uttar Pradesh for Rs 20 to Rs 200 and are transmitted to a customer’s mobile phone in a matter of seconds.

Jeroninio Almeida, of the Karmaveer Chakra Awards, commented on this issue in a Facebook post, stating that:

The truth of it is, the shame is not on any survivor of rape, and for all survivors in similar situations of harassment, molestation, marital rape or sexual assault.

The shame is on the society comprising of the abuser and not on the survivor. It is tragic that so many survivors have to survive this kind of crap, and I’m so sorry to all survivors who are put through the ordeal in a callous, insensitive, hypocritical society.

Roshan Raykar of Rosh Ideations believes that it is essential to teach both men and women to defend themselves. He has posted a series of videos on self-defence techniques for girls on his Mission Fearless India Facebook page.

Roshan says:

We have always been taught that men are strong and women are weak and that has been primarily the reason why harassment and rape cases are increasing in India.

Mission Fearless India is on a mission to develop a thought process that women are equally strong and can protect themselves and the only way to do this is by being prepared for any situation.

We show digital tutorials on how to protect one’s own self and keep practising the techniques and also we motivate and encourage women to believe in the thought that they can protect themselves and have to be prepared for any situation.

We also look for a local tutor who can come and give some demo practices which will further encourage the women to take up this activity as a routine practice and make one’s own self physically fit and strong. This is the only way to tackle the current problems of rape and harassment cases in India and across the world.

Mission Fearless India has the goal to make every woman and child stronger to be able to protect one’s own self and people around in threatening situations. We want to make the world a safer place to live it, and the best way is to be prepared for it.

When a young woman knows how to handle tricky situations she is less likely to become the victim of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. The old model is to teach physical self-defence. The new model is to use verbal self-defence first to prevent a physical attack.

True Shield™ Verbal Self-Defense For Girls is a training program that teaches young women how to defend themselves in uncomfortable and downright dangerous encounters with predators.

This is program empowers young girls and marries the fundamentals of martial arts practice with practical application in today’s world. It teaches body awareness, centring, personal strength, how to command challenging situations, and manage unwanted attention – all through easy-to-learn intentional techniques.

True Shield™ is a “verbal self-defence training in a box” licensed course for schools, colleges, institutions, organizations, self-defence associations, martial arts dojos, and companies committed to the empowerment of women and girls to say no, prevent assault and stop rape.

This unique verbal self-defence course teaches young women from 12-24 years of age how to protect themselves verbally in life’s most difficult and dangerous situations and stay safe.

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. ~ Dorothy Thompson, journalist
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How can we change mindsets to prevent rape?

According to Reuters, gender-violence prevention programs have been proven to prevent and decrease the incidence of rape, as a program conducted in the slums of Nairobi showed.

Young men who went through a six-week gender-violence educational program called “Your Moment of Truth,” were three times more likely than their untrained classmates to report that they’d successfully intervened to prevent an assault on girls or women.

The “Your Moment of Truth” training is part of a sexual assault program called “No Means No Worldwide,” designed by Dr Jake Sinclair and Lee Paiva.

They developed the curriculum to alter male attitudes towards females, promote gender equality, develop positive masculinity and teach boys to safely and effectively intervene in gender-based violence.

Karmaveer Chakra awardee, Erica Scott, is a Consent Educator based in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Her passion is working to create a more consensual, more compassionate world.

She developed the fun, interactive workshop, Consent Culture Intro, which will be published in book form and as an online course in 2020. She aims to create Consent Educators who will teach Consent Culture to others and has trained several Delhi facilitators to lead the Consent Culture Intro Workshop.

She hopes this will create a ripple effect that can shift our global culture and make the world a kinder, more compassionate place. As Erica says:

Teaching consent, or what I call creating consent culture, is largely about UNLEARNING the erroneous messaging we have all received to date. It starts with recognizing the ways we have been taught to disrespect ourselves and others and then practising more compassionate habits.

At the same time, we need to call out society on the old beliefs that enable predatory behaviour. This sounds like hard work, but it is actually fun and liberating to free ourselves of these oppressive beliefs. Fighting rape culture is hard, but creating a consent culture is fun.

In this episode of Naaree Talk, we discussed concepts of consent, pitfalls of how we currently communicate and assert our boundaries, how childhood conditioning plays a role in teaching consent to children, and why leaders and people in power are in need of consent education.

Nisha Mukherjee Bellinger’s research on diversity in government suggests that one of the reasons India has not been able to effectively address crimes against women is the lack of women in national political office.

We see such incidents because these men were never taught to respect women, or told that by defiling women’s bodies they do not somehow establish their superiority.

What is needed today is only one thing – a complete change in attitude to women, a change in the legal process of dealing with the crime, and educating and ‘sensitizing’ men about women’s issues, at home and in the workplace.

We need to ensure that the shameful incident of 16th December 2012 is never repeated so that no other girl suffers the fate ‘Nirbhaya’ did.

To avoid such crimes from occurring, we require a change in the criminal justice system. Studies have revealed that only 27 per cent of rape accused are actually convicted.  This is perhaps one reason why rapists are not scared.

Social stigma and fear of being shunned and boycotted by society also make victims reluctant to seek justice. At the same time, the people who are supposed to prevent such incidents from taking place (the police and state agencies) are usually controlled and run by men, creating a closed-loop of dominance, violence and subjugation.

We also need to ensure that policy reforms, which have been waiting to be implemented since the 1980s, are actually implemented rather than just lie on paper.

Quicker trials enabled by more judges and courtrooms are the need of the hour. We also need better investigation procedures as well as ways to find and preserve evidence. Unfortunately, we don’t have proper witness protection programs or efficient prosecutors.

Another way to avoid such incidents from happening is to allow women to sue for money damages and injunctions in civil cases along with criminal cases. We need civil damages for victims of crime in India as it’s an easier forum for her to navigate.

Also on principle, it is only right that the victim of sexual abuse is recompensed for the psychological and physical damage caused to her, in addition, to have the culprit punished.

And while improved law enforcement is part of the solution, women’s rights advocates believe that alone is not enough. “We can’t only have action, we need to address the root cause of this problem,” says Anne F. Stenhammer, who heads the South Asian chapter of the United Nations women’s agency, UN Women. We first need to alter our mindset.

First and foremost, we need to inculcate a sense of equality in women. Women’s rights should be taught starting from primary school. Unfortunately, in a patriarchal society, girls are treated as inferior to boys. Women are often given sermons on what to (or what not to) wear, how to behave etc.

These days, even our politicians have known to give sermons on how a woman should dress and behave. This is dangerous as it implies that women must take the blame for abuses of which they are victims. It also goes on to absurdly suggesting that women actually invite getting raped.

Sexist, “humorous” messages actually increase tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. Raunchy jokes and lewd humour that demean and target women and other minority groups are dangerous for company culture.

Recipients who stay silent are tacitly endorsing it, and thus they are part of the problem, too. The time has come to start calling this out for what it is.

Women must be made to believe that they are equal to men.  Several rape cases go unreported, as women in a patriarchal society have restricted liberties, and are discouraged to speak out in their own defence, especially in sensitive issues such as rape.

Teachers and parents should, from a young age, teach boys that there is no difference between them and their counterparts.  Boys should also be given empathy training to show them what it’s like to be a girl.

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Has social media empowered women in India to speak out against rape?

Rape and molestation have been happening to women since the dawn of time, but were always hushed up, especially when there were powerful men involved.

What is most heartening is that women are feeling more empowered to speak up and report these incidents because of a number of reasons, namely:

  1. The ability that social media gives them to voice their feelings freely
  2. The public support they now receive from people (social media users) who would have earlier stayed silent
  3. The fact that many more women are working today and are themselves in positions of power
  4. New laws that make it necessary to treat such incidents with the seriousness they deserve
  5. A media sensitized to the cause of women’s safety

Social media is one of the tools that has empowered women to speak their minds and have their opinions validated by thousands, if not millions, of like-minded people out there. We saw how social media helped people congregate in protest marches after the Nirbhaya rape.

We saw how it erupted in public disgust and condemnation after powerful men like Asaram Bapu, Tarun Tejpal, and M. J. Akbar were charged with rape. And we will see it lay bare many more incidents where powerful men will be exposed for the perverts and predators they are.

Tarun Tejpal Rape

Almost every woman in Indian society has, at some time in their lives, faced unwanted comments, leers or touch from a male, either one they knew, or a stranger.

In the old days, women would not have felt safe speaking out about rape and molestation for fear of the lack of support from close family and friends.

Today they feel safe enough to write about it on their blogs or to file a report at the police station and speak about it publicly if the police do not cooperate.

In an age where whistleblowers are elevated to hero status for exposing the more sinister elements of our civilization, social media has become a very important tool to bring justice to those who need it most.

It leaves me with a feeling of hope to see that public tolerance seems to have run out when it concerns perversion and predatory behaviour in Indian society and that people are becoming more supportive of the survivors of rape and molestation.

If you’re an Indian woman, connect on the SHEROES Helpline, where you can talk about anything personal or professional in your life. Your conversation is 100% confidential and secure.

Do you have any suggestions of your own to transform this epidemic of misogyny and toxic masculinity? What rape prevention measures would make India safer for women? Please share your views in the comments below.

About the author:

Priya Florence Shah is the Group Editor at SHEROES and author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women.

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Related posts:

Misogyny In India

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