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It’s that time of the year again

It’s Christmas time, but slowly I’m beginning to think that it’s that time of the year when some men’s “desire to rape and molest” goes into overdrive. The question I’m asking myself now is, are rapes and protests against rape going to become a national pastime for us Indians?

“Oh no, not again!” This is my reaction every single time my iPhone news app flashes a rape story on my screen.

This time it’s about a 31-year-old woman in Assam. She was travelling in a tempo, a three-wheeled van, to pick up her six-year-old daughter from school when four men raped her, gouged out her eyes so she couldn’t identify them and then threw her out of the moving vehicle.

Now, I am probably torturing myself if I try to look for some sort of logic behind what the rapists did. Sociologists will probably blame rising social inequality, the problem of growing cities, immigrant labor, modern-day frustration, but none of it can really suffice as an explanation for the torture the woman had to endure.

Last year, the rape of Nirbhaya saw massive protests all over the country. This year too, there are protests. Women’s organizations blocked a major highway near Lakhimpur where the rape occurred. They were turned away with the promise of punishing the victims. Life will slowly return to normal in Lakhimpur in Assam and the Indian masses will be at their wits’ end to try and find an explanation as to why we Indians are the way we are.

The male psyche

How the male psyche works in such circumstances is difficult for me to understand. I confront my male colleagues and ask them what makes men into rapists or what prompts them to molest women.

Men don’t know their boundaries, says one. When men in India go out in groups, they often forget their limits, they don’t know when flirting turns into teasing and teasing into assault and even rape. We are now discussing a recent incident where 93 schoolgirls were assaulted by a group of men in a moving train in Bihar in eastern India, notorious for crime and its patriarchal attitudes regarding women.

Maybe some Indian men like the whole idea of forcing themselves upon women. It’s this “macho” mentality, says a colleague. It’s not comprehensible for a man who doesn’t believe in it and it might be very difficult to overcome it because it’s part of a man’s upbringing in many parts of India.

The macho man

In Bollywood movies, these men are the kind who park their motorcycles in the middle of the street, pull at women’s scarves and beat up other contenders for their lady love. As far as women are concerned, we don’t know the difference between a stalker and a prospective boyfriend; we like it when men steal glances at us at the local trinkets bazaar, we like it when they shower us with attention, sing songs or recite cheap poetry, just like in the latest Bollywood movie.

But why blame the movies for being the point of reference? One rarely sees any exchange of affection between one’s parents. If a boy falls in love, he can’t really share his joy or his heartbreak because you don’t talk about such things in Indian families. There is no space in Indian society for a man to meet a woman, just like that.

An Indian man, frustrated in love, has two options: he can take offence at the woman who scorned his love and throw acid at her and scar her for life. If he’s single and frustrated because he does not have a partner, he can get drunk and throw himself at the next woman he sees and gouge out her eyes so she can’t identify him. Or he can harass a couple of schoolgirls for some sexual relief.

We’re uncivilized

I think we Indians are simply uncivilized. There is no other explanation, according to me, for why rape happens. We throw trash into the street and kick our servants. We force our women and even small babies into having sex, we sell children for money. We were at the pinnacle of development until the 8th century. That’s when the Kamasutra was written. Now, more than 1200 years later, everyone goes mad when it comes to sex. Bollywood loves its naked women and men on the street take whatever they get, literally.

Or maybe it’s got to do with the cycles of the moon? Is that why the worst rapes happen at the end of every year? Maybe we Indians have a mass mental disorder? I’ll probably toy around with the question and possible answers in my head until I get tired or do a small meditative exercise to forget the trauma of reading such news.

I don’t even want to think about what the victims go through. I’ll probably thank my lucky stars that I was never in a situation like that while I was studying in New Delhi and that I am now safely tucked away in Bonn where the end of November is synonymous with shiny presents and Christmas, not rape.

Author: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Editor: Grahame Lucas


27.11.2013 | 15:18