Have been hearing of late, quite a bit about gang rapes. It is natural that, as one repeatedly hears about something, there is a point when one spares more than a cursory thought to it. So ditto…………..
What is gang rape really? How does one define a gang rape? Is it a forceful act of penetrative sex by a group of men on an unwilling woman? How many men would constitute a gang? Would it be more than two? Is there an upper limit on the number of men?Why does it take place? Is it a planned, willful and deliberate sequence and series of events? Or is it spontaneous and occurring in ‘the heat of the moment”? Is the motive sex? Or is it violence?
There is talk about the gang rape of Muslim women in Gujarat by a fundamental group that is even now talking of providing the next Prime Minister for the country.
There is talk about the gang rape of a 19-year-old dalit woman. There is also talk about gang rape of 3 dalit women by 30 ‘upper caste’ men for the unforgivable crime of a dalit boy eloping with an ‘upper caste’ girl. Many of the women are stripped and paraded naked before being raped.
There is also the recent story of the minister for Women and Child development watching a gang rape during an Assembly session.
Every case of gang rape is a macabre story that unfolds. The woman raped faces threats from the men who raped her, stigma from the community, rejection from the family and disbelief from the court. She is also likely to have lost one or more family members at the same time, who came forward to prevent the rape.
In stark contrast to the extreme act of violence and energy demonstrated in a gang rape. there is a general malaise in the country about the several thousands of incidents of gang rape. There is no sense of outrage. There is no sense of national shame by the country. Media wouldn’t grab this information and flash it on their daily headlines.
Men also experience a sense of titillation about gang rapes and a voyeuristic pleasure. It is amply demonstrated by the number of you tube uploads and downloads. It evokes a combination of feelings of powerfulness and sexualness – giddy feelings that would be hard to resist when one is safe in the confines of ones own mind and room.
The very act of forceful subjugation of a woman would seem to be a bitter victory against the proponents of gender equality and the annihilation of caste.While one cannot, in the context of being an advancing and developing society, openly clap when acts of violence are perpetrated against minority communities and dalits, one can certainly stay silent and mutter under one’s breath that ‘THE COMMUNITY DESERVED IT’. This is a core undercurrent running through the entire community of ‘upper caste’ observers and armchair intellectuals – both men and women. In Madhya Pradesh alone, there were 1217 gang rapes between 2003 and 2007 – almost all by ‘upper caste’ men against individual dalit women, most of them minors. Would there be a similar silence of an ‘upper caste’ woman had been gang raped by a group of dalit men?
One of the article says that pursuing justice is not easy for a lower caste woman in Central India, if the crime is rape. This is ironic because it seems to imply that pursuing justice for other issues like discrimination, abuse, denial of basic education and nutrition, is fairly simple and straightforward in the country. Fact of the matter is that it is not.
Farah Naqvi weaves together the pieces of the Gujarat pogrom with the skilful combination of a writer, poet and documentor “The massacre in Gujarat poses many challenges to us as a nation, exposing holes in our hearts, in our social fabric, as well as in our criminal justice system, laws and jurisprudence. Now we cannot legislate against communal prejudice and hatred in the hearts and minds of people. That is a battle that we as a society and a people must wage in a million different ways at a million different moments in our collective and individual lives.”