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)

Watch your mouth: indignation at every turn

When you’re in a khap, you can say whatever you want, but it has to be pretty outrageous to annoy people beyond the city limits. One idea that has cleared the bar? Lowering the minimum marriage age to prevent girls from being raped.

“Boys and girls should be married by the time they turn 16 years old, so that they do not stray …this will decrease the incidents of rape.”

That’s the kind of thing that you expect a conservative patriarch to mutter through his beard while drinking tea with a friend. Comment done, world moves on.

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