By- Kriti Sinha
The normalization of sexual violence against women in our country is a product of years of structural patriarchy. This system has blamed women for everything, for their own problems as well as for problems of other people, because for men dumping the burden of their own guilt on women has always been the easiest way out.
So when we talk about the prevalence of rape culture in India, it doesn’t come as a surprise when we still see women getting blamed for the way they dress, the way they talk, the way they sit- basically the way they exist because according to our “society” that provokes men to commit such crimes. But if society believes these things provoke men, then how do they explain the rape of an 8-year-old baby girl and a 70-year-old woman. It cannot be stressed upon enough that the problem behind this rape culture is the MENTALITY of people and not the women. No doubt that there has been a 1 percent change in the mentality of people, but there are still that 99 percent who just do not wish to open up their minds, they are the ones who are still wound up in the clutches of patriarchy and misogyny.
No matter how much they condemn rape, their mentality is still blaming the woman first and that is what is completely wrong with our society. And when it comes to prevention of rape, even then the deep-rooted structures of the society ask the women to dress appropriately, have a sense of personal responsibility and give up certain dreams to be safe. Nobody asks the men to not harass woman or leave them the hell alone and mind their own business.
Another factor that maintains this rape culture is the delay in punishing rapists. In our country even after the rapists are convicted (doesn’t matter if they are some hotshot politician or a bus driver) , our justice system takes so many years to give them a sentence and punish them for their heinous crimes that it gives way to many of those who are likely to become rapists in future and proves how the system protects the rapists and keeps the issue secondary. These facts are quite evident from the way Nirbhaya rape case and most recently the 2017 Unnao rape case was handled.
Another facet that contributes in maintaining the rape culture is using of the word rape to threaten women. It just goes on to show, how lightly people consider this to be a problem. People say that threatening is not raping, but it’s this stupidity and the narrow mindedness of people which is the whole problem in the first place. There are countless examples of how people use rape threats in their rage to abuse women. They go on to say that they will not only rape them, but their mothers and sisters as well. Verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, I wonder when people will understand that. The objectification of women in media and no sex education in our country are the blocks on which this problem stands.
No matter how many changes we have seen till now, they are not enough. Condemning sexual violence is not enough, questioning this misogynistic mentality of people, explaining young boys how objectifying women is wrong and explaining them the importance of consent and finally understanding the gravity of the conditions we are in is very important to bring about a change.