Sunday, April 7, 2013

Justice for Rape. In a Patriarchy.

The context out of which I am writing this, is a universal issue in terms of both time and societies. Though what provoked me to put this down in my blog right now was this.

It is so difficult for a man in our society to speak out of he has been victimized. One did, anonymously, and just one look at the comments below will tell you a great deal about the society that we are.

What is rape?

According to Oxford Dictionary, rape is a crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will.

The section 375, of the Indian Penal Code provides that a man having sexual intercourse with a woman amounts to rape, in following circumstances, such as:
•Against her will.
•Without her permission or if the permission has been obtained forcefully or by putting her under fear.
•With her permission, when the man is aware that he is not the legal husband of the woman, but she believes that he is another man to whom she is legally wedded.
•With her consent, when she is not in proper state of mind, to judge the consequences of such an act.
•With or without her permission, when she is below sixteen years.

Inadvertently, even though our language still has a slit, which allows us to not totally write off the fact that it is possible for men to be raped by women. However, when it comes to IPC, only men can rape and only women can be raped.

The main reason for minimal reporting of sexual harassment is the stigma our society associated with its victims. Underlying the stigma is patriarchy.

This system has many characteristics,implicating the norm for men to be ruling over women. 

This system, for instance, takes into account only men as as decision makers, and women only as belongings of men. The life of a woman is most often defined in terms of "beti, behen, patni, bahu, ma" (Daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, and mother).

While she belongs to the man, it is his duty at every stage to keep her in control, to domesticate her. His honour lies in her behaviour, in her sexuality. While onus of protecting the honour of the man's family lies with the men of the family, the womenfolk have the responsibility of not inviting any attacks on her "izzat" honour, or questions over her "character".
 (Here, we can understand why the primary route to revenge in most patriarchies in history has been to rape women belonging to the person against whom revenge is to be taken.)

So, it is obviously evident why female victims of sexual crimes would hardly come out and speak about it (all other reasons, such as perpetrator being somenone close, blackmail, etc. being constant).

But why is it so difficult for male victims to speak about it? (Apart from the fact that laws do not protect him the way they protect the women).

It is because sexual crimes have a lot to do with power play.

In a patriarchal setup like ours, wanting/demanding sex is considered a part of a boy's jawani (youth), and a girl's desires of the same as besharmi (shamelessness).
As a corollary, a boy's wish to not have sex is considered as namardi (un-man-liness), and a girl's wish to not have sex is considered as lajja (modesty).

A girl in this setup is expected to say "no" to sex, shyly. The man is expected to then convince her. He is to dominate and and she is to submit to him.

This expected role play makes it very difficult for women, and men, to fight for justice.

For a man is supposed to always be on a lookout for sex. And the woman is to not "entice" him.
The baseless debate of whether she was "asking for it" emerges from this. What other reason is it, that this is one crime where the defendant brings up the victim's history and character into play?
A viral script illustrates the story of rape cases very articulately.

Now, again as a corollary, a man, who is expected to be jumping at any and every opportunity of having sex, will mocked at a namard if he speaks out that he has been raped. And that too, by a woman.

In essence, no one can speak out and get justice against rape, without getting ridiculed by the society, by us.

All this, for the sake of few gender based fossilized character sketches in our heads.

Is it really worth it?

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