Friday, January 04, 2013

Rape ... who is to blame?

Crimes differ by the degree of severity. That is why murders get three degrees which result in different penalties for the murderer. Rape is one of the crimes that is looked upon differently by different people. The viewpoint that men has on rape differs from a women.

Recently, the rape incident of "Damini" in New Delhi of India brought the topic of 'rape' on the limelight. The name Damini was given to the 23-years old victim girl by the Indian media, in order to hide the girl & her family's identity. Some Muslim media also named her Amanat.

Some people are accusing the sexuality that is shown in Bollywood cinemas, for the attitude of the rapists. The bikini scenes, the westernized typical sex scenes, kissing scenes - have become almost common in Bollywood cinemas nowadays. Most movies portray sexuality without any hesitation, as if Indians are so used to the western culture. I agree with these people who argue that Bollywood is one of the biggest factor for such incidents. But Bollywood alone cannot be blamed for the mindset that these rapists possess. Bollywood definitely needs to look at itself & ask whether they would continue to make films where sexuality is openly exhibited or not.

"Item song" - as it is often called by, is in almost all the movies now, at least in the blockbuster movies. These so-called "item songs" portray women in a very vulgar, open manner that people have become so accustomed to such scenes. Before the 21st century, families used to sit together to watch a good film where there would be some moral values on life. Such movies are almost nowhere in the director's mind now. Instead of such good movies like Kahaani, Lagaan, Swades to be publicized, people line up for Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore or Ek Tha Tiger. These 'masala-type movies' portray women in a explicit manner that men can easily be provoked by these movies.

But as I said before, Bollywood alone cannot be blamed for the vulgarity shown by the rapists. In fact, Hollywood movies portray more explicit scenes, in comparison to Bollywood ones. But that doesn't cause westerners to behave like a rapist, as it happens in India or those places. Yeh, I know that rape cases are filed & rape incidents do take place in the US or European countries. But it is not as common as in India or those South Asian countries. Western women wear more body-showing clothes than the eastern women. The beaches in western countries are full of women showing off cleavage & other bodily parts. However, that doesn't provoke the men of these nations as much as it does in eastern part of the planet.

Why is that? Is it that because women wear explicit clothes, show off their bodies more than any other earlier generations that the men of current society in India & elsewhere are involving themselves in this heinous acts?

Men used to rape women for centuries. Even the religious epic stories like 'Mahabharat' describes us that Draupadi was sexually harassed by her brother-in-law, Dushasana, in front of other royal members of the family.

I personally think it has something to do with the attitude with which women are looked at in our society. Men usually consider women as properties, rather than humans as them. I might be wrong, but I think that is why Muslims have a dowry (Bengali: দেন মোহর; Arabic: Muarzal/Mu'ozzol) when marriages take place. It seems like as if the women is a property that is being sold to the bridegroom from the girl's father with a price tag. Even Hindus have the practice of dowry. 

The point is that these practices cause our men in the society to treat women as properties than human. Domestic torture is very common in those parts of the world in both Hindu & Muslim families. Like previous generations, women are considered as child-bearers. They are only there to provide child for the husband's family so that the family lineage continues. If the child happens to be a girl, the society blames it on the women, as if she chose what gender the child would be. In fact, it is the literate society that understands that men are actually responsible for determining the gender of the child since the Y-chromosome needed for a male child comes from the father, not the mother. 

From my personal experience, I know that my grandma used to get beaten by my grandpa from the father's side. Whenever he used to come from the crop field after day's hard labor, he would ask for fresh food. But when my grandma would provide him with hot, recently-made, cooked rice, he would be so angry that he would throw the plate with hot rice on my grandma's face. Such tortures were not only happening to our families. It is a common thing back in that time. 

With advancement in education, people have learned to be respectful to each other. Some children even take their mother's surname instead of the father nowadays. But these improvements are not happening as much in the eastern hemisphere as in the western.

With change in attitude of the men towards the women, these practices can be altered. People like Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar have fought against the societal norms in their time, i.e. funeral pyre for the widow, marriage system for the widows etc. 

But now is our time to act. Our society needs us, particularly the men, to act against these norms. If the current growing generation changes their attitude, we would have a different India or South Asia, rather, altogether. Of course, punishment should be given to the rapists who still won't change. That punishment should be more of an embarrassment than just direct death sentence. Obviously, death sentence should be implemented on those monsters. But before that, those rapists should be humiliated publicly, as happened in Assam yesterday. That way any future rapists would think twice before letting their "snake out of the cage", as Robert DeNiro once mentioned in Meet the Parents

Ultimately, it is the men that need to change. Along with asking the women to wear clothes that doesn't show their cleavage as much, men also need to look at women in a respectful manner. However, it also needs to be monitored that whether the woman want to hide her face in the hijab, as Muslim women or not. Otherwise, the freedom that women should be getting is again being taken away from them. They need to think of women as their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters. They need to ask themselves - what would they do if their mothers, sisters, wives or daughters were to face similar occurrences? What would be their reactions? Instead of taking revenge on each other & spilling more blood, why can't these men just act more maturely? How hard would that be? 

But if that doesn't work, rapists should be punished harshly to create examples. I often wonder how would criminals feel when the crime is done on them. With that thinking in place, the government can sexually harass those rapists publicly so that others would be alarmed of consequences before acting similarly. One thing that needs to be made sure in such cases is that the human rights groups don't interfere in the punishment process. It has been their custom in the recent past to condemn the government for harsh punishments on criminals. Instead of looking at the criminal with pity, they should look at the victim with sympathy. It is the victims who deserve the sympathy, not the criminals & certainly not from human rights groups whose primary job is to be concerned about the safety & security of innocent lives.

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