20 February 2014 | By Sofia Badyari
What is rape? Why do men rape women? What does rape do to an individual? These questions have always worried me and all that I could make out of all the thinking is that rape is the ultimate breaking down of the will, spirit and dignity of a human being, a woman.
It not only tears the body but it tears the spirit apart, the will to survive, the ability to love oneself again. To put back those pieces of your shattered mind and heart is a struggle, yes rape is not a momentary thing, it gives years of damage to the victim, although a few may be strong enough to rebuild themselves, piece by piece, ever acknowledging and confronting the horrific incident.
Then questions arise! What if she had worn a longer skirt? What if she had not been out so late at night? What if she would have respected herself more? Who told her to smoke?!! Well, I contradict strongly. Questions need to be thrown in the faces of the men who are the cause of this violation. They should be asked: Why were you out so late last night? Why can’t you control your drinking? Why can’t you keep your sexual urges within limits? Rape is not the problem of the women. It is a huge problem of men.
Yes MEN, they are the ones who need to be tamed, taught and blamed and punished.
You hear people saying all kinds of things about sex when it comes to rape. Well sex and rape are two different experiences. Yes, two very different things. Pre-marital sex and rape are different experiences. So, for politicians to say such absurd things like pre-marital sex should be made illegal in India to prevent rape is ridiculous. It’s shameful to say that the victims should tell their rapists that they are her brothers and should not rape her. Religious persons preach about praying for your abusive partner, bearing his torture, drinking problems and serving him in God’s name.
What have we come to? We ignore the cause and modify the consequence so as to keep men blameless. This seems to be a growing phenomenon. Women don’t seek equality, we are already equal. Women don’t seek security, we are already secure. It’s the men who need to grow up, who need to be more mature, in knowing that they do not need to so blatantly and aggressively express their sexuality. Women in modern India know what they want, are confident and ambitious. Men are insecure, can’t seem to control their sex drive and think it an appropriate option to vent their insecurities by throwing their bodies onto women.
Why are there fewer cases of women who are the sexual offenders and more often the victims? What does this say of men in modern India? What does it tell us of the upbringing of young men? How are they nurtured by their parents? What are they held responsible for in their behaviours? Are they corrected when they do wrong or are taught to come up with reasons and justifications for their wrong behaviours? I am talking about boys and men of all ages, castes, religious and cultural background.
Rape is not limited to one kind of man. Rape is the ultimate low that any man can stoop to. But what are women, mothers and fathers doing right or, for that matter, more importantly not doing right, so as to inculcate into the minds of our men that they may hold women in dignity. Dignity, which need not be asked and begged for, but which is the obvious expectation of every individual.
Do we ever talk of the dignity of men? Do we ever question their behavior? No, we simply try to find a good conclusion in favour of them so that they may not be put to shame. If you tell me that a woman feels ashamed after being raped, well that’s not true, it’s the men who should be ashamed. Are the women undignified after being raped, no, the men are from the very start. Women want love and yes women want to enjoy sex, doesn’t everybody, but what we must understand is the difference between sex and rape. Until this is not seriously pondered, the undignified, insecure and violent men will continue to misuse, abuse and violate women and young girls.
Today I ask for forgiveness from the powers that be for the wrong doings of such criminals, for they will be subjected to everlasting torture themselves, within themselves, I hope at least. For such an individual who commits such a horrific act , to live with oneself would be the utmost torture, or maybe not, maybe , men have gotten used to be like this, to push , to shove, to demean, undermine women.
Anger boils over at the injustice which starts much before the practical level, there is injustice in the minds of men and yes women too, an injustice in the way they approach sex. In India it is most often thought that sex is meant only for the pleasure of men, that all they need are a pair of spread out legs and then get on with it. Well, sex is meant to be an enjoyable experience for both men as well as women. Women are not around to just satisfy men.
Sexuality is not just for a man but it’s a woman’s right too. But when women and girls do display their sexuality in their dressing sense, in their mannerisms they are considered cheap. Being cheap and being sexy are different. To express your sexuality is the right of every individual and men mistake it as a signal that women are “inviting”. Well, just because I wear a short skirt and go out late at night does not mean I am asking for it.
We mothers, sisters, girlfriends, fathers, friends, brothers, husbands need to educate our men, our sons about what sex means. To force your wives, your girlfriend or sisters & daughters to sleep with you is rape, not sex.
Today I feel ashamed to be called an Indian in an India where a woman’s dignity is measured by the length of her skirt. I pray and hope for a better tomorrow for women, a better late night outing, a safe company of men with whom a woman can smoke, drink, party and talk and joke and who will not consider her cheap. I am proud to say that I am grateful to have such men in my life.
Sofia Badyari is a Goa-based artist
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of The Petticoat Journal, or any other entity of Spink Turtle Media Pvt Ltd.
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