Monday, June 06, 2005

Women's voices

Different voices, one struggle.

Laxmi Murthy in the Times of India; Manufacturing Consent: Rape verdicts reflect social prejudice:

"What is it about rape that the judiciary cannot restrict itself to delivering verdicts about the guilt of the accused, but makes observations on the complainant's behaviour, her moral character and her marriage prospects? Three recent judgments are indicative of this disturbing trend; they reflect and legitimise a social prejudice against rape survivors".

Niranjana Harikumar in the Hindu; Yet another impotent rant:

"How innocuous sounding a word rape is when compared to its damning connotations! Beyond all the brutality and the physical violation of rape, it is the attitude toward the victim that confounds me".

C.S. Lakshmi in the Hindu; Planning public spaces:

"...This myth of the domestic space being safe for a woman has been broken so many times when cases of domestic violence and dowry deaths have been brought to public notice. And yet, cities and public spaces are planned in a way that does not take into account women occupying these public spaces as a matter of their right as citizens. When PUKAR, an organisation in Mumbai, began doing research on women and public space in a city, its researchers often walked into different police stations asking questions. One invariable reaction that they got from most of the police stations was why women should be out in the public space when they had no work there. And it is this attitude that is behind the way the rape of a minor girl in a police chowky in Marine Drive has been perceived. What was she doing there sitting in Marine Drive with two boys? This 'she asked for it' kind of attitude is one of the ways of pushing women out of the public spaces where they rightfully belong like anyone else and pushing them into private spaces where many think they ought to belong".

Gita Hariharan in the Telegraph (link via Uma); Victims’ Responsibility -- Patterns of violence against women in India:

"Making the victim responsible has served as an effective way to keep women out of large chunks of the world’s places and experiences. It has, over generations, instilled an amorphous fear in women, fear of what their bodies can cause. Male-dictated tradition has it, whether in history, literature or popular folklore, that women cause men to stray from the straight path. So ingrained is all this received wisdom in our society that it survives the onslaught of time, new ideas, even new ways of looking at women’s rights.

Despite appearances, there is, as always, hope, even in these dark times for Indian women. There is a little glimmer of hope to be found in the immediate and angry reaction of the nurse whose rapist proposed to her through a court of law. The nurse’s reaction pulls us back from dangerous nonsense about repentance and forgiveness culminating in marriage. “It’s like being raped for the second time,” she says. Her words bring us back to what has actually happened to a woman; to what can happen again. The bar girls have come together as the Bharatiya Bar Girls Union to fight for their right to a livelihood.

Women’s groups are, as always, working hard, not only to fight physical violence against women, but violence of a more insidious variety, the kind that delivers blows through ideas, beliefs, prejudice. But the uphill climb is futile if only women undertake it. It has to be a far more public hike, judges, policemen and scripture-men included".


  1. Anonymous said...

    Purely from the acedemic point of view, I would like to see some study on what motivates the rapists to do what they do. Or, atleast some statistics on the rapists to see if they were married/unmarried, had regular sex/not etc.

    To me, there seems two possible profiles of such men - a man attempting to achieve superiority when he hasn't done much else in life, like the policeman at the Mumbai beach; a sexually starved man (married or unmarried) fueled with alcohol.

    Of course, these are just the stereotypes we always think of. And we need to either confirm the stereotype or find out the real reasons because a clear understanding of this problem still eludes us.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Few societies have ever been able to eliminate rape entirely. However in the case of a hypocritical society such as ours, rape almost gets a social sanction. That is the whole problem.

    The rape victim must be sympathised with - by the state and by the society. And the perpetrator of the crime must be punished - swiftly and effectively.

    These two are so simple, that they are almost common-sensical. Yet our society behaves exactly to the contrary on both counts.

    Try this: India will never be truly free until a professional sex-worker can charge a man of rape, at 1:00 am in the night inside his own bedroom, and get him convicted and jailed.

  3. Anonymous said...

    As for psychological profiles of rapists, I am sure it has been researched well; links or pointers from readers will be appreciated. As for how our society deals with them is worse than atrocious. As Kiran suggests, swift and effective punishment is what is needed.

    Here are some more voices: Uma, Charu and Priya.