India Insight

Short skirts, bad stars, chow mein: Why men in India rape women

Demonstrators from All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against the recent killings of two teenage girls, in New Delhi May 31, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The 2012 Delhi bus rape case and an ever-longer list of rapes and murders in India have prompted politicians and public figures in India to cite plenty of implausible reasons why rape happens and why men brutalise women or portray women in ways that suggest they had it coming. Many people, when speaking out, tend to minimise the crime or rationalise it in ways that sound ludicrous to many. We created this list of such comments more than a year ago, but it seems like it’s time to add some new entries.

(Updated July 15, 2014) Binay Bihari, minister for art, culture and youth affairs in the state of Bihar: The minister said that mobile phones and non-vegetarian food are reasons for a surge in rape cases, NDTV reports. “Many students misuse mobile phones by watching blue films and hearing obscene songs which pollute their mind,” he said. On food, he reportedly said that non-vegetarian food “contributed to hot temper… and cited sermons of sants that pure vegetarian food kept the body and mind pure and healthy.” (NDTV)

(Updated July 2, 2014) Tapas Pal, lawmaker from Trinamool Congress: The popular Bengali actor was caught on camera threatening workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and their families. “If any opponent touches any Trinamool girl, any father, any child, I will destroy his entire family. I will unleash my boys, they will rape them, rape them,” Pal said in the video. Pal later apologised for what he termed a “gross error of judgement”. (Indian Express)

(Updated July 1, 2014) Sudin Dhavalikar,  member of BJP ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party in Goa, India’s beach-party-central state for sun-touched Westerners: Dhavalikar said women should not wear bikinis on Goa’s beaches “for their own safety”, and “girls in short skirts visiting pubs” is against local culture. ”For their own protection on public beaches, women should not wear bikinis. I am not against wearing bikinis in private places,” Dhavalikar, 57, told NDTV. ”Pub culture is not Indian culture and we don’t want Western culture. Young people go drinking and it often leads to law and order problems. Our sisters and daughters are getting spoilt. Goa was a city of temples and churches. We don’t want pub-tourism.” (NDTV)

Babulal Gaur, BJP minister from Madhya Pradesh: ”This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong… Until there’s a complaint, nothing can happen,” Gaur told reporters. More, from CNN-IBN: ”Unless the person wants, no one can dare touch her. The item numbers in films create a bad environment,” … The minister cited the instance of a Hindi movie actress who was kissed on the cheek by a leading Hollywood actor on stage in Delhi in 2007. The actress had seen nothing wrong with it, he said. He also suggested that women learn karate and judo to defend themselves, CNN-IBN reported. (Reuters and CNN-IBN)

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.

  •