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)

from The Human Impact:

Ending the beatings, rapes, murders: Where are India’s men?

Violence against women is widespread across the world. Globally, 35 percent of women have been beaten by an ‘intimate partner’ or suffered sexual violence at the hands of a non-partner in their lifetime, the World Health Organisation says.

The same research suggests that almost one third of women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner, and that some 38 percent of all murders of women are committed by their husband or boyfriend.

In India, the situation is little better. The International Centre for Research on Women reports that 37 percent of men surveyed admit to inflicting violence on their intimate partner.

from Expert Zone:

Slow change comes to India a year after Delhi gang rape

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

One year ago, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered. Her story showed the world that women across India are viewed as dispensable, undeserving of full human rights.

One year later, what has changed?

It is heartening that the case of Nirbhaya, as she is known, led to the setting up of the Justice Verma commission that recommended strengthening outdated laws to protect women and their rights. Although change has been slow, more cases of sexual violence are being reported rather than silenced, scuttled or quietly settled. However, crime statistics and prosecution rates show that most of these crimes go unnoticed, unreported and absorbed into the culture of “that’s the way things are."

Looking through the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2012, it is evident that the number of complaints registered with the police, the first information reports on rape, has risen by nearly 3 percent. The number of cases that were charge-sheeted -- documented as a crime -- was 95 percent. But fewer than 15 percent of rape cases came to trial in 2012.

Mumbai police look to Bollywood for image makeover

Mumbai’s police department has deployed an unusual strategy to revamp its sagging reputation and to counter criticism that it hasn’t done a good job at solving crimes against women in the city – it called the biggest game in town and asked for help.

Top city police officers, including the police commissioner, have asked Bollywood producers, directors and writers to portray them in a more positive light than they usually do.

While films like “Ardh Satya” spoke of the pressures and frustrations of policemen, many mainstream films, which have the most reach, aren’t kind to the force. The police also have asked the studios to change how they portray the women in their films, hoping that this would cause men to behave better toward women.

Reactions on Twitter to the Delhi gang rape sentencing

All four men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi were sentenced to death on Friday. Here is a compilation of politicians and other celebrities reacting on Twitter:

Sushma Swaraj, BJP MP
I welcome the judgement in Delhi gang rape case. This will serve as a deterrent for such offences.

Naveen Jindal, Congress MP
Justice has been served. Nirbhaya, we all hope you rest in peace. You have changed India, you are everyones daughter.

Delhi rape victim’s parents hold firm in desire for death penalty

The family of the trainee physiotherapist who was gang-raped in Delhi last December received a new house and 3.5 million rupees (about $54,000) in compensation for their daughter’s torture and death. It’s a bounty they would rather forgo. They want their daughter’s killers dead.

“Earlier, we used to be happy with whatever little we earned,” the victim’s mother told Reuters in an interview on Sunday. “The difference now is that despite having everything, our eyes are wet all the time.”

“When we go out and see other girls smile and giggle, we think our daughter would have also smiled like this, giggled like this; those would have been such wonderful moments. It pains us deeply when we think about that,” said the victim’s father.

Women and New Delhi: the views of travellers

By Aditya Kalra and Anuja Jaiman

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the India Insight team show.

The India Insight team travelled in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and Delhi Metro trains and spoke to commuters.

Here are edited excerpts from conversations:

Farhana Ahmed, 22, student; travelling in a bus
I only feel safe travelling by bus in the day time because it’s crowded and there are less chances of being in trouble. I prefer not to board a bus after five in the evening. Whenever we go out after 9 p.m., we have experienced eve-teasing. I think it’s better not to wear dresses at night.

from The Human Impact:

How old is old enough to be jailed for gang rape and murder?

The crime was horrific, the case shocking, and the trial long. Yet when the much anticipated first verdict in the high-profile Delhi gang rape case was pronounced in India over the weekend, there was no jubilation, just outrage.

Found guilty of the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in December, the teenager - one of six accused - was sentenced to three years in a juvenile home, sparking anger and debate over whether India is too soft on its young offenders. Four adult defendants are on trial in a separate fast-track court. One of the accused committed suicide in jail.

The first reaction came from the parents of the dead 23-year-old student, who was beaten, tortured with an iron rod and raped on the night of Dec. 16 before being dumped on a roadside in the capital.

Reactions on Twitter to the Mumbai gang rape

A photographer in her early 20s was gang-raped by five men in India’s financial capital Mumbai on Thursday, evoking comparisons with a similar incident in Delhi in December that led to nationwide protests.

Here is a compilation of politicians and other celebrities reacting on Twitter:

Amitabh Bachchan, actor: Appalled and most disgusted with the recent rape of a young photo journalist in the heart of city .. day time .. shocked !!

Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP politician: Despicable! We are shamed! How long & God forbid, how many more before the criminals are punished? Wake up, India!

Not so safe in Mumbai any more

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

When the Delhi gang rape made headlines last December, most Mumbai residents thought such a thing could never happen in their city.

A girl raped during daylight hours in a public place in a posh area? Nah! Not possible in Mumbai. This is a city where women can walk the streets alone at night and not feel threatened.

It all changed on Thursday. A photojournalist in her early 20s was gang-raped by five men at around 6 p.m., while on assignment with a male colleague. Her friend was tied up while the men took turns raping her, media reports quoting the police said.

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