I’m sure many people have tried to answer this many times before in their own ways. Here’s my attempt. Right now, I’m just going to jump on the goddamned Armchair Expert Express, because fuck it.
First, the basics: if you’re a woman, India isn’t a pleasant place to be.
A lot of women experience some kind of sexual harassment in India or the other. This ranges from catcalls, to stalking, slut shaming, to molesting, to rape, to murder.
This disdain towards women begins right at birth: female babies are selectively aborted in a greater-than-okay part of India. It used to last right upto death: women were expected to jump into the funeral pyres of their husbands.
I sincerely have no idea why this is so. My own mom was raised in an environment where she, as a woman, was expected to behave in a certain way. For example, she told me she was expected to not be outside after 4 pm. Even after she began working and got significant financial independence from her family, she was still required to be “around” to do things that her four brothers couldn’t or didn’t.
My family likes to consider itself educated, but I beg to differ. That’s not education bro. But, as the Smriti Irani episode showed us last week, degrees = education in India.
“Cool story brah. But, like, you know, what’s the use of that personal anecdote?”, you say, because in my head you have a Valley girl accent.
Its purpose is to just show you what the deal for women actually is, even in (mostly better) South India, even in (mostly better) educated families. It’s not much. They actually have it pretty bad.
Aside from that, anything at all pertaining to “sex” or even any related feelings at all is a no-no. There’s a huge amount of repression existing here, for men and women (and other genders. Calm your heels, libs). If you’re lucky enough to be born (being a woman and all), you’re fucked. If you’re lucky enough to survive in an environment which hates you, then you’re really lucky.
So women are second class in India. If they’re not, its an exception, not the norm.
In my head there’s two levels of crime. The first one is where you don’t even know that you’re doing something wrong.
This is because you see others do it, or you have megalomania problems, or you know its a crime (by law) but not a crime according to you.
For example, a child might copy answers from another, because it’s seen friends do it. It doesn’t know that copying isn’t really going to help it score a 100 (because it turns out everyone you copy from is just as dumb as you, and you never sit next to the bright kid).
Or, that freakshow who went on a killing spree in Santa Barbara? He didn’t even, for a second, think what he was about to do was properly insane. Shooting girls because they friendzoned him? Man cry me a river.
He felt nothing was wrong, and worse, he felt he was entitled to do whatever crap he did. That’s the worst kind of ignorance: when you’re convinced that you are smart but you’re actually a dipshit. (Note: I don’t want to link him because that’ll be giving him and nutcases like him validation. Google for the Gawker articles if you want to know more)
Or, when you feel that you shouldn’t really pay your taxes because its yer goddamned money and no commie bastards gonna take it away from you.
See, that’s what happens with most rapes in India. By creating such a shit environment, we’ve done the equivalent of North Korean levels of brainwashing on men, who don’t even realize what they’re doing is wrong.
This is where you can blame society, Indian society, at large. Not only have we failed our women, we’ve also failed our men.
Now you’ll be like, “whoa whoa whoa whoa, are you saying these men of negative IQ don’t realize rape is wrong? Come on man.”
No, I’m saying those negative IQ dumbfucks don’t realize that the way they look at women and feel about them is wrong. They’ve been raised in an environment where their moms would have been secondary to their dads. Their moms would have been passive, even frightened. I mean, maybe they were in families that experienced plenty of domestic abuse. That’s a lot to assume, but why not?
Then (if at all) they go to schools, they probably see their friends saying, “that girl is mine”. They can’t interact with girls, they don’t know how to, they don’t know anything about women except what they’ve seen in their families, and unfortunately, movies.
This is a gross oversimplification, but it’s forms a part of the crux of the issue. Let’s take movies, for example.
It’s undeniable that Bollywood, and other local film industries, have glorified the wrong things (stalking and being aggressive with women) while being shy about the right ones (prudishness about showing proper physical love, not giving women enough powerful roles in domestic situations). By falling into such formulae, which, while commercially successful, Bollywood guaranteed its actions will be extremely damaging to the country…because popular culture, fuckwads. You can’t ignore its influence.
In my head, this forms a reasonably good case about society failing the rapists. Add to that a sudden influx of cash and jobs and increased mobility of men and women. These guys are raised in ignorant, misogynistic environments. Now they’re suddenly around women who don’t behave the way they expect them to. So they rape. And no one is spared. Tourists, western and Indian, professional women, teenage girls, villagers, women from other communities, women from other castes, even transsexuals.
Now I’m not exonerating them by saying “they didn’t know it was bad”. What I’m doing is accusing Indian society as well, of being so shitty, these guys had a chance to even exist.
If India was, dare I say it, more egalitarian and less prudish and used a lot more common sense than now, these guys won’t exist.
But they do, and I’m going to call them the Type I rapist: the rapist who is now getting his ass kicked in jail because of the regressive bullshit environment he’s been conditioned and raised in.
Then there’s a Type II rapist, the guy who truly knows what he’s doing is wrong, but does it anyway because fuck logic and everything else.
Psychologically, this guy is tending towards “Holy fuck tie rocks to his ankles and leave him in the desert”. He’s a monster, the demented sort that goes and rapes children. He’s the man who was responsible for the horrifying rape of the poor girl in December 2012. He was the man who hung the poor, poor girls after raping them in Uttar Pradesh.
He knows its a crime, acknowledges that fact, and yet does it. There’s a word for such behavior: it’s called impunity.
Impunity that exists because – I’m going to go out on a limb here – almost all levels of India’s “crime correction/prevention” system have failed, except the highest levels.
The police are underpaid, uneducated and often come from the same social and domestic environment the rapists come from. The judiciary is slow, cranky, inefficient, secretive and touchy. It shows with the number of recesses judges take, the number of courts of law available and the number of backlogs in cases. I don’t even want to know how many of those backlogs are rape cases.
But let’s assume a guy raped a women and is caught. Let’s look at all the motions he has to go through now:
1) He has to get charged for the crime
Why it won’t happen: He may have political help to bail him out. Politicians lean in heavily on cops, cops get scared, back off. The cops might themselves be the monsters. They may threaten the girls family or the girl itself. The girl maybe dead and they can go after the rest of the family and anyone else. The cops may not even realize how awful it was to have happened.
2) He gets charged, but needs to be prosecuted
Why it won’t happen: He may post bail and skip out on any hearings. He may even get admitted to hospital because of course he’s sick. The judiciary keeps postponing future hearings for several weeks or months later, instead of days later.
3) Four or five years later, he gets prosecuted and convicted, but appeals
Why it won’t happen: See point 2
4) Ten to fifteen years later, the case has reached the Supreme Court, which hands him a life imprisonment. Or maybe not. Who knows?
That’s the average way you can expect something to proceed in India. It’s a terrible state of affairs. As much as I’m willing to acknowledge that not all cops are bad and that the judiciary is doing its best to keep things moving, this is unacceptable.
Not just for rape cases but any criminal cases. Expecting a judgement 15 years after the crime, as is the norm, is just terrible news for everyone involved.
That then, is the problem and also covers about ~70% of the rape cases. I actually don’t know, I just made that number up, but my gut tells me its a good estimate. That’s why so many rapes happen in India: because of ignorance and/or impunity.
Back to negativity.
A lot of people will say, “What about the power aspect of men over women? Rape isn’t about sex, its about power”
I know that. That type of power-exerting rapist is a Type I rapist: he’s seen his father being dominant over his mother. He’s probably not even seen it at home but seen it elsewhere, like in movies. Maybe that’s just how he believes things should be. So he goes and repeats the cycles. In fact, he’s probably not a Type anything rapist but just a rapist. I don’t know, classifying regular animals always makes biology easier. It’s got to make understanding this situation easier too.
Education, and co-education especially, is an important factor here. If the public school system in India were revamped;,and well-paid and well-intentioned teachers actually imparted life lessons apart from civics and geometry to children (which is how I turned out so neat), it’s safe to say a significant amount of India’s problems will be wiped out.
Proper education to everyone will actually, truly, honestly and really (I mean this) solve a host of problems, like overpopulation, malnutrition, sanitation, crime, while bringing in equal replacement problems. Why can’t we seem to move from “ew primitive barbarian” problems to first-world problems?
My weak attempts at humor apart, this is why it enrages me so much that India spends so little on education but so much on subsidies (as part of total GDP). Meh, fuck it. Let’s see if the new government does something cool.
Till then, Indians can’t absolve themselves of blame for every rape that happens and then become butthurt when a bunch of Westerners, like the good people at the Guardian or the New York Times or even the UN, hate on us. While butthurt is bad, apathy is even worse. Candle-light marches, and loud protests that invite the glorious water cannon are pointless. Being not bothered by a system that is clearly failing structurally is part of the problem.
Remember that we do this to ourselves. I’m not a rapist, and neither are you. But we live in a very hypocritical culture.
Where else is it okay to see Bipasha Basu strip down to her birthday suit but not okay to see girls in jeans? Where it’s okay to beat up a bunch of guys over sports in public, but not stop a man from beating up a woman in public?
And pray tell me, where it’s okay to have a billion fucking children but not okay to teach those children about how they came to be?
Is this country, where a majority of the population worships female Goddesses yet treats its own daughters like they’re prisoners, normal?
The only way this can change at all is if the law improves and becomes better at punishing/rehabilitating the criminals and deterring crimes. But that solves only part of the problem: the rest is up to India to change it’s societal perceptions and hangups and beliefs. It doesn’t matter which comes first.
I hope my wordy analysis helped.