In what seemed to be a re-enactment of the origins of the Slut Walk, Andhra Pradesh top cop Dinesh Reddy recently made a statement that ‘women who wear fashionable clothes provoke men, leading to increase in rape cases’. He indicated that modern and fashionable women are more prone to rape, BECAUSE of their inappropriate attire. While many people were outraged, many others have applauded him on his courage!
I lived in India for most of my life, and I can tell you for a fact, that EVEN IF YOU ARE COVERED FROM HEAD-TO-TOE you are still very much at the risk of being sexually abused.
For starters, how easy or difficult do you think it is for a woman to travel in a crowded bus without being touched inappropriately by a fellow passenger? A young child, a teenager, a mother of two kids – nobody is spared. As long as one is a woman, she is likely to be molested at some point in time. Do you know how many middle-class woman living in Mumbai carry a sharp safety pin while travelling on a crowded local train? I was advised of this ‘technique’ when I lived in Mumbai for a couple of months.
The groping, pinching and leching that happens in our Indian roads and public transport is beyond a civilised person’s imagination. To blame that sort of lecherous behaviour on the clothes of the victim sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
A potential rapist sees his victim as an object and nothing else. There are no statistics to prove that a woman wearing a modern dress is more likely to get raped as compared to a woman who is conservatively dressed.
This article talks about molestation statistics in our Capital city, New Delhi. At least one woman is molested EVERY DAY.
Are we really so naive as to believe that all those women who were molested or raped were dressed ‘inappropriately’ or ‘fashionably’?
How about our villages? Those poor women are not dressed ‘fashionably’, and yet they suffer the humiliation and trauma of rape. (Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunan_Poshpora_incident)
For a country that claims to treat women as ‘goddesses’, statistics surprisingly indicate an increasing amount of crime against women.
Do read this shocking extract - http://www.thp.org/reports/indiawom.htm
‘In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested. Every 34 minutes a rape takes place. Every 42 minutes a sexual harassment incident occurs. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. And every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death over dowry.
One-quarter of the reported rapes involve girls under the age of 16 but the vast majority are never reported. Although the penalty is severe, convictions are rare.’
Let’s get to the ROOT of the problem.
This interesting link describing the various causes of rape. Every single reason for rape (lust/show of power/etc.) has entirely to do with the mindset of the rapist, and NOT the outfit of the victim.
The problem is not that girls are getting influenced by the West and/or are wearing fashionable clothes, thereby ‘provoking’ men. Rape happens IRRESPECTIVE of the victim’s outfit and NOT BECAUSE of it.
If we take a step backward and analyse the situation, we find that our society is plagued by a strong ‘rape culture’.
Wiki defines this rape culture as:
‘a culture in which rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification and rape apologism’.
As a society, we still tend to BLAME THE VICTIM. We believe that the victim is responsible, either directly or indirectly.
That way, we not only transfer the burden of rape on the woman, but also seek to excuse the rapist for his barbaric behaviour.
Statistics have not been able to prove the link between the victim’s outfits and incidence of rape. Please read an extract from this link ‘Through a Rapist’s Eyes’. Though this is applicable to the US, the underlying issue is very relevant to India too:
‘There is no data to suggest that a potential victim is at greater risk because of how she is dressed. Remember, 70-80% of assailants are known to their victim, so tactics of stranger rapists aren’t needed.’
More statistics only support the above statements by revealing that around two thirds of rapes are committed by known persons rather than strangers.
Therefore, the point is – Rape is PREMEDITATED. To claim that a girl wore fashionable clothes, and thereby provoked a rapist INVITING rape is baseless.
And for those who really believe that covering ones’ self from head-to-toe protects you from rape, please do read this wonderful article. Rape happens even with women who are completely covered behind a veil.
To be fair, I do understand that wearing revealing clothes might attract more attention in a country that is sexually repressed. But does that justify rape? NO. Rape is crime and you cannot simply BLAME the victim with the flimsy excuse that ‘she was wearing fashionable clothes’!
I think this comment on Yahoo beautifully sums it up:
‘A rapist has a totally different mindset. It's much more sinister, because he is actually serious about his plans. And to a real rapist, the outfit probably doesn't matter much at all’.
The need of the hour is not guidelines on Indian women’s Dress Code, but concerted efforts to get out of this gross rape culture. There is no such thing as a ‘right to rape’!! The quicker we realise it, the better for us to evolve into a truly civilised society!
(The above post is entirely the opinion of the author. Readers are most welcome to agree or disagree, but not indulge in personal assaults on either the author or the magazine). Photo credit: www.akshayphoto.com