India Insight

Short skirts, bad stars and chow mein: why India’s women get raped

If you thought the Delhi gang rape would cause a serious debate on women’s rights in India, you’d be half right. Let’s look at the other half: last December’s brutal incident seems to have put a spell on India’s politicians, holy men and otherwise educated people.

From suggesting that the rape victim should have called her rapists “brother” to blaming her stars, plenty of reasons cited for the crime lay the blame on the women whom men brutalise, or portray women in ways that reveal our skewed attitude toward women and their place in our society. When given an opportunity to figure out ways to improve the  education and behaviour of men, and thus try to reduce the  number of rapes that occur in India, many people revert to the  more traditional method: limit the rights of women.

This is a partial list compiled by me and Robert MacMillan. Please suggest more. We’ll keep updating this as long as we have to…

UPDATE: BJP Minister from Madhya Pradesh, Babulal Gaur, commenting on a controversy regarding dresses, said “foreign culture” is not good for India. “Women in foreign countries wear jeans and T-shirts, dance with other men and even drink liquor, but that is their culture. It’s good for them, but not for India, where only our traditions and culture are OK.” In what looks like an attempt to hedge his bets, he also said, “Let women consider what is good and bad for them.” (Business Standard)

Shankaracharya of Puri Swami Nischalananda Saraswati declared western influence responsible for destroying the values and principles of the country. “There is need to change this. Before Independence we were able to maintain our culture and values but in the last 65 years we have lost a great part of it. Such horrific incidents don’t happen all of a sudden. They happen when the thin line of culture and values are crossed in the name of civilization and development.” (Times of India)

Kashmir: we love you, we don’t love your mini-skirt

Imagine this: some tourists, from India and abroad, fly to Jammu and Kashmir, and are eager to escape the confines of Srinagar airport and to get themselves a lungful of that pristine Himalayan air.

Upon arrival, they are advised to visit the official clothier’s outlet of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department before they hit the
streets. They need to make a stop there so they can shed any “objectionable” attire and don a traditional pheran to respect the “local ethos and culture” of India’s northernmost state.

Don’t like it? Go home.

It’s an impossible scenario in most parts of the world, but this idea — already the norm in conservative Saudi Arabia — is something that the Kashmiri religious group Jamaat-e-Islami, would like to import to Jammu and Kashmir.

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