Why Rapes Against Women And Girls?
By Cynthia Stephen
30 December, 2012
It is a real shame that our society has not understood the basic reason behind the increasing sexual violence against women and girls. The reason is that our society is deeply misogynistic, that is, woman-hating. This is seen even in ancient mythologies where women are almost always shown in poor light, as slaves to the men. Thus there is a denial of their basic humanity in the collective consciousness of our society. That is why crimes against women - not only rapes, but beating, mental violence, stalking, dowry violence - is not seen as a crime or treated as such, whether by the perpetrator, the police, or indeed the justice system itself.
In Bangalore we had the recent high-profile case of a famous actor who had a history of severe violence against his wife - finally being "compromised" with his wife, who had the courage to speak up in public, but then faced severe criticism for having dragged the family's affairs into the public eye and pressure to compromise. But I think she has to be commended for speaking up. Because often victims of violence, and thier families, think that it is better to be silent about violence. This is again because of the lack value for a woman and her person - and many of the women are also co-dependents in the violent situations they face daily. This is not to blame the victim but to understand the reality that women are seen, and also taught by society that they are weak, vulnerable, and hence second-class citizens. Unless this situation is clearly understood and challenged, till everyone - the law, the police, families, each individual, and especially the men - are made to understand the equality, even the superior role, played by a woman in society, and this is given its due worth, such incidents will continue to happen.
The attempt to justify the violence by saying that women provoke men with their clothes or behaviour deserves to be dismissed with contempt. What justifies the now fairly commonly reported sexual attacks on minor children under the age of 8? what about the numerous cases of incest committed on children of thier families by fathers, cousins, uncles and grandfathers?
The role of increased and unmonitored access to pornography is an important factor that cannot be discounted. The young men and boys who consume pornography are predisposed to sexual violence, especially against a vulnerable 'object'. Thus they are dehumanised and fail to see the sex act not in its human, relational aspect but only as a means to gratifying appetites aroused by the pornographic images.
This points to a failure in the way our society rears its young men and women. While something is being done to address women through empowerment programmes and education, nothing positive is being done to educate young men in this area. They need to see the world as not only thier space, but as the common heritage of both men and women. They have to be taught that women are to be valued highly for thier role in the family, society, and economy, and as common heirs of this world. They have to be taught that women and girls too have rights, they too are human, and they have to be respected, who ever and whatever they are.
The justice delivery to women is most neglected. This has to change. As far as possible, judges and prosecutors should be women to enable victims to speak with comfort, especially in the case of rape and sexual violence.
Cynthia Stephen is an Independent Writer and Researcher based in Bangalore
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