A Broken Society

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

Rape culture is an environment or culture where rape and sexual violence is normalized due to societal ignorance and attitude. It extends from rape “jokes”, casual sexism, catcalling, acceptance of toxic masculinity, victim-blaming to other demeaning acts. Such an environment does not only exist in India, but it thrives worldwide.

In India, the severity of this culture is to an extent where it ranges from young girls being told how to dress as to not “invite unwanted attention or trouble”, to male predatory behaviour being normalized. Women are only given a shrivel of respect if they are seen as “sanskari” by society. Whether it’s different dress codes for girls and boys in school, or not letting girls roam around at night because of safety concerns, India’s rape culture is deep-rooted. It is a country where men have raped babies and even 100-year-old women.

India is a terrifying country to be a woman in, and according to government data, there is a rape case reported every 15 minutes. If you think about it realistically, these are just the cases that have been reported. This small bracket only includes those strong enough to come forward and report the sexual crimes committed against them. The actual number - much higher - never gets the attention it requires and ends up getting buried under victim-blaming.

Out of the ones that are reported, very few are investigated due to the fact that they are termed “false accusations”. People often jump to conclusions without enough information, and it has been recorded that false accusations have only been seen in less than 2-10% cases. This is the reason very few are pursued in court, and out of these only 27.2% cases have a conviction rate. Such a low conviction rate shows, that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of immunity. Does this not encourage more men to commit sexual offences? Does this not discourage women to speak up against their persecutors?

Even though women are not the only victims of sexual harassment, in most cases they are. Women live in a constant state of fear and alarm. Do men have to think twice about what clothes they are wearing like women need to? Do men have to check the time they are leaving their house or check whether it’s too dark to venture outside like women do? Do they always need to share their location with family like women do?

It is important to understand that the way women dress or act is not what perpetuates rape, it’s the mindset of the rapist. Women wearing short or “slutty” clothes, consuming alcohol or being friendly do not constitute sexual invitations, so men need to stop assuming they do. We have to overcome the belief that victims contribute to their victimization. Instead of instilling the belief and telling women to not get raped, we need to educate men not to rape.

In order to even attempt to tackle this issue, we need to start at the roots. This would include the actions and attitudes we term as ‘harmless’ and ‘not related to rape’, which are not only related to rape but also reinforce, as well as excuse other violent sexual acts. It all starts at school and our homes, from having sapid conversations about this prevalent issue to teaching boys it’s wrong to talk disparagingly about women. Whether it’s the media glorifying toxic masculinity by saying “Mard ko dard nahi hota” or “Ladke nahi rote” or big Bollywood blockbuster movies promoting the objectification of women. Improper enforcement of laws, extreme ignorance of the government along with many such factors combine together to give rise to sexual violence. We simply cannot ignore this topic, because the process of change is “too slow” or the problem, too deep-rooted. We need to keep fighting for it and let it be known that such rapacious behaviour is not in any way “normal” or justified because “boys will be boys”. Otherwise, instead of building a safe environment for all, we’re just feeding rape culture.

** Here men are not being talked about as individuals rather as structural issues such as patriarchal systems, institutions and the community as a whole. It is necessary to remember that “not all men” is a statement that is very controversial as one benefits from the privilege by being a part of a group. By being a man, one is automatically more privileged than a woman. **

Works Cited:

1. Menon, Anjana. “Sexual Violence: India’s Serious Problem, Its Men” The Economic Times, 10 December 2019.

2. Singh, Prerna. “Understanding Rape Culture 101” Feminism In India, 2 July 2018.

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