I often ask myself whether am I feminist? Simply because human rights have no gender bias. It’s Your Fault was a 2013 short video that dealt with India’s rape culture and it went viral within a few days. Seeing the state of certain nations and the lack of women rights, feminism is the absolute right movement.
According to Wonderlist, India ranks fourth in the world with the highest number of rape cases. The latest estimates suggest that a new case of rape is reported every 22 minutes in India.
The act of rape has always been present in India, but was brought into focus after one of the most horrific rape cases occurred in India. In 2012, Nirbhaya a 23 years old female physiotherapy intern was not only raped but brutally beaten up by six men in a moving bus in Delhi.
BBC revealed that the men beat her male friend and “each raped the woman in turn, before assaulting her viciously with an iron instrument”. Unfortunately, Nirbhaya died of internal injuries and excessive bleeding.
Nirbhaya’s assault brought about an international outrage over the rape ‘culture’ in India and tighter laws were implemented. Moreover, the outrage shown over Nirbhaya’s case gave women in India the courage to report rape and harassment incidents.
BBC had produced a documentary, India’s Daughter in 2015, regarding Nirbhaya’s rape and had further interviewed one of the rapist in the video itself. The rapist had clearly shown no remorse or regret during the video, but instead justified his actions.
“Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good,” Singh said.
People “had a right to teach them a lesson” and should not complain and bear through it all.
Of course men like him do not represent the entire male population in India, but knowing there are men out there who think in such a sick manner, gives me goosebumps.
“It’s heartening to see that now more women are reporting these crimes and speaking up. As Indian women, we are a paradox of strength and silence. I am glad the silence is being broken by many now,” Shreya Jani, who runs a peace education NGO in New Delhi said.
Despite the rise in number of women reporting to the police increased, the number of rape cases only increased over time. The Indian Express revealed “the number of rapes in Delhi registered a rise in 2015, with data suggesting an average of six cases every day”. This just proves how majority of rape cases still go unreported. But why is that so?
The stigma surrounding rape is still very much present in India. There is a famous saying in India that “bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbor’s plant”. This is one of the many reasons as to why it is illegal in India to find out the gender of your baby during pregnancy. A high majority of Women in the past, would end up aborting their baby; had she been a female.
Furthermore, the never ending caste system in India plays a large role in many rape cases going unreported. Women of the lower caste are often threatened and the authorities also refuse to give them importance. It often leads to them fearing for their lives, and some have been raped more than once but had no hope for justice.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association told Al Jazeera how the culture in India restricts a female independence.
“The heart of the issue is structures in India that continue to restrict women’s autonomy, and especially sexual autonomy, often justified in the name of culture,” she said.
Women are as progressive or even more progressive than men in today’s world. Having personally heard that Bollywood is one of the reasons as to why rape occurs in India, proves how people refuse to see that the ability to hurt an individual physically and emotionally is a sickness inside the human mind.
Bollywood is not only known for its colorful song sequences and romantic scenes but for thought provoking movies as well. Pink, a Hindi movie released in 2016 was “a form of education for those who don’t know anything about respecting a woman’s choice”.
Pink had one of the best dialogues which made its viewers aware of the word ‘No’. When a woman says ‘No’, it’s time for a man to stop. One of them was how “we should save our boys, not our girls … because if we save our boys then our girls will be safe”.
Women are no longer weak as what they have been portrayed to be in India for decades. Moreover, if women all over the world stood hand in hand against such injustice, there will be no longer be any voiceless woman in India.
It is crucial to end the stigma against rape in India and worldwide. How exactly does one go about ending it? Promote free speech for women, encourage individuals to speak about such issues and make extensive use of all social media platforms.
Let’s work together to give them a voice or better, be their voice.
Maria Khan Safi