My body was aching all over and I was running a slight fever. I knew Dolo 650 would help but the pharmacy at the end of the street doesn’t do delivery at night. I could go by myself, I think. As I put on my slippers, my eyes glance over the clock on the wall that reads 8:55 pm. I take a peek outside. It does seem a little dark. I wonder if the mechanic shop near the pharmacy would be closed at this time. Maybe I should change this tshirt for a kurti? My eyes look down at my breasts which are already covered. But is it covered enough? Argh, I would have to cross that tree where there’s always an auto parked..
My mind has a mind of its own. I am reminded suddenly about the 23-year-old woman’s gang rape in an auto, where they threw out her 9 month baby so as to take turns on her peacefully. A little shiver ran though my body as I took off my slippers hurriedly. ‘Dolo 650 could wait until morning’, a resigned me locked the door. Staying alive was more important.
No, don’t scoff me off yet. I have traveled by myself, stayed at hotels by myself, enjoyed a whole breakfast buffet by myself. But a familiar fear grips me when I hear a knock on my hotel room door when I’m not expecting any room service or a friend.
It’s that same fear which grips most women as they walk back to their house in the night-time, be it by themselves or with a male partner, because you see walking with one guy is no longer the ideal protection mode.
Mornings aren’t better as well. Whenever a woman catches an Ola anytime of the day, her heart beats a little faster when the driver mistakenly makes a left turn when he should have made a right. Every time she goes in an auto to a new place for which she doesn’t know the directions to, she turns on her GPS and keeps talking to a friend to feel safe. She hesitates to catch a night show unless she is given bantho basthu by some people in her ride back home.
And the papers aren’t helping any.
A 15 year minor raped by a 17-year-old, a woman gang raped in bus yet another time, a daughter in law raped by her father in law and brother-in-law, a widow and her daughter raped by a cop’s son, a 10-year-old raped for months by her employer, a rape victim’s son raping the accused mother, a 10-year-old raped and by stepfather’s child, a 27-year-old woman raped in Uber when she dozed and suddenly woke up to find the driver on top of her and most recently, the case where a security guard of a residential complex rang the bell of a resident’s flat at 1 a.m., forced his way in and tried to rape her.
These are some of the news that made it to the papers. We all know about the thousands that go untold. Figures from India’s National Crime Records Bureau suggest that a rape takes place every 22 minutes. Which means someone somewhere is being raped when you are busy walking around with your guy friend who wears a t-shirt that reads “#NotAllMen”.
What happened to India’s daughter in 2012 made us all aware of the sickness our mankind is capable of. But rape crimes never stopped after that. We did see a lot more women coming forward to report rapes but the rapes never stop.
But somewhere along the way as we grew up, we have gotten nub to the news of rape and accepted it as a part of life.
We went on with our lives when news of a 30 year Kerala woman brutally raped, strangulated and murdered was reported in 2016. She was found with 30 stab wounds on her body and part of her intestines had been removed using a sharp weapon. We never raised a voice.
Very few are aware of the Rohtak case, one of the grotesque cases that resembled Nirbaya’s where a girl in Haryana was dragged, raped, head smashed with bricks and her body run over a car by her predators. Post mortem had found her food pipe missing. They also found few condoms, stones and a 16cm long, 4cm wide stick-like thing inserted inside her vagina. Doctors reported it was one of the worst rape cases they had seen.
Many of us wouldn’t have heard of the horrific rape crime of a mentally challenged Nepalese woman, who was hit on the head, gang raped, and found with her key organs, two arms and the entire left side of her body missing. Oh and the news about more than 20 tribal women raped by people of power in a village, never made it to most papers.
And it doesn’t stop with women. A seven-year little one was raped by a 25 year IT guy who was her neighbor. What did we do? We enforced cameras in our apartment complex and told our kids to not talk to anybody. We teach the 4 year olds about good touch and bad touch, but why fail to enforce on the 25 year olds and 40 year olds to not touch the kids.
Whenever we hear of a sexual assault, our first reaction is, “That’s awful! But did she have to go out so late knowing that men would be walking around?” or a “Yeah…that’s terrible! But she should have known what’s to be expected when she goes drinking with men..”.
Why is that victims are blamed more than the perpetrators? Why do we feel it is normal that women need to have limitations in order to prevent sexual violence? Why is that women need to think about the clothes that they wear, the shoes that they put, the vehicle they need to travel, the time they need to travel, the person they need to travel with, in order to avoid the probability of being sexually assaulted?
That’s because we live in a society that has Rape Culture.
So I keep hammering on about this rape culture, what exactly is rape culture you ask?
Rape culture is an environment in which rape is rampant and where any kind of sexual violence on women is normalized. It’s where we have embraced living in fear of rape that we don’t view it as a disturbance. It is the way we collectively think about rape. It’s where we as a society feel restrictions on women should be there if rapes are to be prevented.
So when we say India has rape culture, it doesn’t mean we are outwardly promoting rape. It means the people of India, our society we live in, collectively tolerates sexual assaults, rape and violence, where they are normalized or made into jokes.
When this happens a lot, everyday, everywhere, for a long period of time, a social conditioning takes place within society, where everyone thinks it is normal to objectify women, to see them as lustful beings, to view them as a public property. That is what rape culture does.
And rape culture is toxic. It breeds sexual violence on our society. If we want to eradicate rape, we need to eliminate this rape culture from our society.
So let’s see some examples of it, the way it presents itself in our everyday lives. We need to understand what rape culture is exactly if we need to fight its existence, and these examples might help to give you an idea.
Oh, and keep in mind that these are part of a large societal trend, which breeds rape supportive environment. So don’t think of these as trivial things.
Let’s understand Rape culture now.
- Rape culture is believing that rape is just rough sex.
- Rape culture is when we blame the rape victim rather than the perpetrator.
- Rape culture is when we say or even think “Boys will be boys” and ask the girls to behave appropriately.
- Rape culture is believing that women allow themselves to be raped.
- Rape culture is when we allude to the idea that wearing a short dress, sleeveless tops, shorts or any outfit that shows a woman’s natural curves, means that she is “asking for it”. The more we suggest that rape is justified by what the victim wears or how they act, the more rapists feel that their actions are okay.
- Rape culture is when fans support films which continue to objectify women.
- Rape culture is trivializing rape by joking about it. (Eg – “Maybe you should rape her, she will marry you then”)
- Rape culture is when people feel that the only way to prevent rapes is when women learn self-defense.
- Rape culture is when media encourages men to believe that women mean Yes when they say No.
- Rape culture is when people feel that catcalling and whistling is a ,mild compliment and women should take it easy. Catcalling is a show of power that men exert over women, nothing but that.
- Rape culture is when everyone believes that rape is an everyday occurrence that cannot be changed.
- Rape culture is assuming that only “bad women” and “weak men” will get raped. Rapists will rape. Dot.
- Rape culture is when we teach women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape.
- Rape culture is when rape survivors are asked “What were you wearing then?” as the first question.
- Rape culture is when people make fun of the fact that men are also victims of sexual violence.
- Rape culture is when an ex CBI director openly said “If you can’t stop rape, enjoy it”.
- Rape culture is when discussing rape crimes with a group, there would be at least one man who will pop out with a statement, “It happens to men too” as if discussing rape against women implies all men rape. Men get raped too, but taking away the spotlight from a major statistic to prove a point isn’t helping anyone.
- Rape culture is when even little kids are instructed to limit their behavior because of the existence of rape.
- Rape culture is when people trivialize rape by saying lines like “I raped that test” or “Delhi was molested by mosquitoes”.
- Rape culture is the failure to understand how wives can be raped by their husbands.
- Rape culture is when people (men and women) feel ashamed to report that they have been raped.
- Rape culture is viewing women’s bodies as public property.
- Rape culture is when popular TV shows brazenly mock at a woman anchor’s dress, her looks, her body laugh it off as if it’s no big deal.
- Rape culture is defending celebrities accused of rape just because they’re celebrities.
- Rape culture is assuming that false reporting for sexual assault cases are the norm, when in reality, they’re only 2-8%. Which means that 92-98% of rape accusations are true.
- Rape culture is assuming when a woman says yes to drinking she means yes to everything else.
- Rape culture is when marital rape in India is not defined in Indian Penal Code and is not an offense.
- Rape culture is when we focus on a victim’s actions instead of a perpetrator’s.
- Rape culture is when we think that rape is only when a stranger forces himself on you. It is rape even when a boyfriend or friend forces sex on you.
- Rape culture is when movies keeps spreading the misogynistic idea that men know what’s best for women.
- Rape culture means that when you bring up sexual assault and rape, apologists will question the numbers, the studies, the motives, and will make you forget what you are fighting for.
- Rape culture means that even little kids are victims of rape.
- Rape culture is treating rape as a weapon or a tool to silence and oppress women.
- Rape culture is the use of violent sexual language casually in our day-to-day life, which normalizes rape.
- Rape culture is the fact that most men are so far removed from the threat of rape, that they can’t understand the intense pain and torment associated with it.
And the list could go on. Because rape culture is real and all around us. Everywhere.
This rape culture is very toxic. It is a root cause of violence. Rape culture has seeped through our society and has slowly conditioned our mind to accept rape as part of our society. But we have had enough of it.
We need to get outraged and raise awareness of rape culture. Let’s stop trivializing everything. Let’s fight this rape culture together.
Let me end by repeating something I read somewhere which I loved –
Rape culture isn’t held up by rapists. It is held up by “devil’s advocates”, gaslighters, “Sincere questions” and “Wait for the facts”.