One may define politics as a process of victimizing the victim and oppressing the innocent. Recently, after the incidence of molestation and sexual harassment in Guwahati, Assam, the Industrial Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Kailash Vijayvarghiya suggested that women should stay in their limits to ascertain safety. While emphasizing a direct link between what women wear and provocation, he said,
“Women will command respect and there will be no lawlessness in society if they have character and wear decent clothes.1 ”
This isn’t anything new; politicians have often followed the same manner of victimizing the victim. A few months ago, the Chief Minister of Delhi also suggested similar advices for women and the Police Commissioner of Delhi said,
“You can’t travel alone at 2am and then say Delhi is not safe. It would be ideal if a woman takes her brother or driver along. It’s wrong to say the Capital is not safe for women.2 ”
Obviously, they believe that the main cause of rapes is the raunchy, slutty, provocative girls wearing those weird western outfits that simply encourage a man to attack and rape girls and women walking on the roads at odd hours. The statement of Delhi police commissioner was weirder because he exactly pointed out that police is redundant and what women need is a private bodyguard and protector to ensure safety, although Delhi is safe. He could have made sense if he had suggested that women and girls should own guns for their protection against any attacker. However, politicians and bureaucrats never favor the idea of empowering the common citizen. It is difficult to differentiate between morality, politics and social science. Often simplistic view over a social problem proves to be irrational and wrong and this is the reason why it is necessary to examine all possible consequences of any policy before enforcing it.
Clothing and Provocation
Many Indians believe that women wearing western outfits encourage boys and men to tease them, stalk them, and rape or molest them. However, if it is really true then why the only victims of rape and molestation are not those girls and women who wear western clothing and enjoy their time at pubs, dance bars and cafeteria? Why not only those women are raped who actually go out of their houses for their jobs and come back at odd hours?
As a matter of fact, 20 percent of rape victims in the year 1991 were below age 10 and 35.8% were below age 143 . Obviously, those kids weren’t wearing slutty clothes, nor were they out at odd hours. Furthermore, the number of rape cases among staunch Muslim communities of India where the women are often found wrapped in black burkas and niqab is no less than the rape victims of other communities. So why doesn’t the niqab covering complete body of Muslim women save them against being raped? Oh yes, one may find the answer in Saudi Arabia where the moral police of the kingdom said, “the Haia men will intervene to force women to cover their eyes, especially tempting ones.4 ” The fact is, women are being raped in places like Saudi Arabia too where they force their women completely covered under black clothes and to suppress the complaints, the judiciary punishes the rape victims for speaking out.5
In addition, it is a well known fact that even with all this hoopla of westernization of India, most of the women of small towns of India and almost all women of rural India still wear the traditional women dresses like Saree. Yet, the number of rape and sexual assault cases in small towns and villages of India is no less. Yet, the rape victims in these rural areas face much more brutal harassment. Obviously, the facts suggest that there is hardly any link in between women clothing and sexual violence. In 2008, around 2000 girls under age 13 were sexually molested in India, they weren’t provocative; they were children6 .
Issue of Pornography
Indian politicians are very critical about internet and they have tried to restrict freedom of expression, free speech, and personal entertainment many times by proposing bills to have proper watch on internet users. Indian bureaucracy has been known to ban websites concerned with pornography terming them illicit, and there have been cases where satellite television channels were banned just because they often showed lewd pornographies. Websites like Savita Bhabhi suffered exclusive bans a few years ago. Politicians and bureaucrats often find it necessary to be the moral police for the common innocent citizens and hence, the laws against pornography are very strict. Politicians believe that internet pornography is the greatest moral hazard to Indian society, culture and people. They claim that pornography and sexual violence has a relationship.
While one may agree that there can be a relationship between sexual violence and pornography, it would be ridiculous to suggest that pornography causes sexual violence without actually researching about the issue thoroughly and logically. Todd D. Kendall of Clemson University7 researched about the issue of easy availability of pornography on internet and its relationship with sexual violence. His empirical research suggested that cheaper and easily available internet pornography has in fact caused a reduction in sexual crimes and rape cases. According to the empirical research report of Todd D. Kendall, “a 10 percentage increase in Internet access is associated with a decline in reported rape victimization of around 7.3%.”
In 2006, Winai Wongsurawat of National Economic Research Associates of the United States8 also offered a different research report that supported that easily available pornography on internet is in fact significantly decreasing the incidences of rapes and sexual violence in society. According to Kendall, pornography in fact works as a substitute to actually committing sexual violence and proves to be a rescue for frustrated or sex seeking young people. He empirically showed that the positive effect of pornography to reduce the incidences of rapes and sexual violence was mostly seen in young kids of fifteen-to-nineteen years. It seems logical too.
Sex is a natural process and with age, any individual comes to realize and become aware of his or her sexual desires and needs. Pornography in fact proves to be a way to end the curiosity and to satisfy the seeker. Obviously, banning pornographic sites won’t help in reducing sexual crimes; it may increase sexual violence.
Guns and Sexual Violence: The Solution against Molestation and Rapes
Often those who claim that sexual violence, rapes, molestation etcetera are increasing because of raunchy western fashion and clothing approved and adopted by young Indian girls and women and internet pornography fuels it too, fail to realize that rapists don’t leave children under 10 years age, nor they leave chances to rape and force 40 year old9 woman or 60 year old woman10 . They also fail to realize that women wearing traditional Indian dresses are being raped in police stations too by the police. These incidences further prove that fashion, or clothing cannot save women. Various politicians and bureaucrats have also mentioned many times that police cannot provide any protection and women need to remain in limits and they should have proper private bodyguards for their protection.
So what is the best way for women and girls to defend themselves? Self-defense is the only plausible solution for women and girls to get rid of these skewed sexual politics that suggest that victimizes the victim. While possessing a gun isn’t easy especially under the strict gun laws of Indian government, it is reasonable to suggest that no man or gang of men will try to tease, stalk or sexually attack a girl or woman walking on road at odd hours if he realizes that the woman isn’t weak and she may be alone, but she isn’t dependent on anyone else for her safety but on herself as she owns a protective gun. Learning other skills of self defense such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Karate, Judo, Kung Fu and others will also help Indian girls and women to ascertain their safety. Protecting oneself may prove to be easy after attaining self defensive skills, yet, protecting kids and avoiding child rapes is still a tricky issue. One needs to be open and friendly enough with their kids to let them know about the sexual harassment and the ways to protect against it at early ages.
- Dress Code for Indian Women, The Asian Age [↩]
- Should There be Shop-Closing Laws, RLC [↩]
- Statistics on Women in India, 2010, NIPCCD [↩]
- Extremities of Tyrannical Spectrum, RLC [↩]
- Qatif Rape Case, Wikipedia [↩]
- Statistics on Women in India, 2010, NIPCCD [↩]
- Pornography, Rape and the Internet, Todd D. Kendall, Clemson University [↩]
- Pornography and Social ills, Winai Wongsurawat, National Economic Research Associates [↩]
- 39 years old woman raped in Police Station, Rediff News [↩]
- 60 Year Old Woman Raped, The Indian Express [↩]