Instances of rape are quite common in India. According to National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), about 93 rapes take place in India every day. Two different perspectives emerge in relation to cause of rapes.
There is a prevalent patriarchal view with a base in feudal mindset, which blames the victim. It argues that rapes do happen due to lack of safety practices by victim themselves. Their patterns of dressing with modern outfits, their openness and friendliness interacting with men, their physical mobility beyond certain hours, their activities such as drinking titillates and encourages men to perform the act. Hence it argues that it is for the women to have a control over themselves. This means that they should only resort to traditional clothing, restrain from interacting in free manner particularly men, restrict their physical mobility beyond certain hours and keep themselves away from activities like smoking and drinking. Women with similar patterns according to them are of ‘questionable character’.
The counter view argues that acts of rape have a base in patriarchal and male chauvinistic attitude of men. It states that if factors such as dressing, openness, mobility, habit of drinking are by itself a factor, then what could explain instances of rape and molestation of children and even aged women, who are also victims. Even traditional women following the said codes are too victims of rape. It states that it has a base in male ‘masculine’ attitudes which believes women bodies as objects and a property. ‘Force’ is seen as a sign of masculinity of men. This view holds that this attitude hardly pay attention to the factor of ‘consent’ and ‘willingness’ even within and outside the institution of marriage. Their act is seen as a right of display of masculinity and exercise of control over women.
The film by Shoojit Sorcar titled ‘Pink’ tries to bring out the hypocrisy related to debates that take around cases of molestation and rapes. The expansion of autonomy and emergence of spaces through modernity, economic independence and autonomy leading to behaviors equated with ‘consent’ are questioned.
This is done through the three characters Minal, Falak and Andrea who represent independent modern urban women working in Delhi. Their dressing, friendliness, drinking and participation in rock concert get perceived as indications of invitation and openness. Rajdeep, Dumpy and Vishwa represent men with attitudes perceiving independent women as cheap, slut and whore. In the events that take place, as an act of self-defense one of the aggressorsRajdeepgets physically attacked. The aggressor, in the name of teaching them a lesson resort to mischaracterization of the three women.
The film tries to argue that wearing skirts, jeans or T-Shirts, being present in Rock concerts, laughing and being friendly with men, having drink in a company or even with sexual past does in no way represent openness. Women do have freedom to decide and to make choices. Saying ‘No’is aclear expression of unwillingness.
Much of the debate happens at the backdrop of arguments in the courtroom. Some of the dialogues (translated into English) which try to counter presumed view include:
- “Any girl at any time cannot go alone with men. If this is done, it is assumed that the girl has willingly issued license to touch”
- “During night when girls go out on the roads independently, then vehicles slow down and so their windows come down. No one gets this great idea during the day”.
- “Liquor is seen as representing a sign of bad character, only for the girls. For boys it is only an health hazard”.
- “If you are present in Rock show, then it is a hint. If you are in library or temple, then it is not a hint. Venue decides your character”.
- “In urban areas, no girl can live independently. Men can live but not women. Lonely and independent women confuse the men.”
- “The girls who go out to Party and have a drink, they become your traditional right to own”
- “If women go out with men for a dinner or drinks, then it is their choice. It is not a sign board that they are available”.
- “‘No’ is not just a word. By itself it is a complete sentence. This does not require any rationale, clarification, explanation or sentence.”
- “These boys must realize that No means No. The girl who says so could be known person, could be a friend, could be a sex worker or even your wife. ‘No’ means no and when someone says No, you stop.
The questions raised by the film acquire importance in contemporary times. It points that the problem lies with the societal attitudes towards female autonomy and female behavior, which is anti-women and patriarchal. It is not the restrictions on female autonomy and behavior that is required but a change in the patriarchal mindsets of men and anti-women societal attitudes.
Jayashubha has done her M.Sc in Organic Chemistry. She works as a Teacher.