A Rapist Culture

Dec 29: Delhi Gangrape: Victim dies in Singapore hospital
This is one of the worst tragedies in recent memory. There are attacks on Indian women every day, somehow this one concentrated the sense of injustice and helplessness that we all feel. Let us remember that the bus in which she was raped was running illegally, without a permit and had been impounded six times in 2 years. We may only guess how and why it was allowed to be on the roads.

We may also wonder whether senior IAS & IPS officials, not to mention elected representatives across the political spectrum are aware of the regular intake of 'hafta' - something all private operators of transport vehicles, and all street vendors know about. The Chief Minister asks us to think and reflect. Yes, Madam, so we will. But can greater and lesser state officials ever think of a world without 'hafta'? Can we ever think of a woman entering a public transport vehicle or a police station without anxiety? May we dare to hope, even in moments of grief, that political leaders will refrain from making things worse with their insensitive and hateful remarks?

There is only a semblance of justice and fair-play in India - the dice are loaded against women, against the poor, against ordinary citizens. Their legal rights and their personal security are of least concern to the Indian establishment. This is not a matter of this or that party. In the matter of contempt for law and Constitution, not a single party's hands are clean. It is a fact of life, with deep social, economic & political roots.

A young woman went to see a film with her friend, and fell victim to a deadly cocktail of violence, contempt for women and the shameless corruption of the supervisors of Delhi's transport system. She fought her attackers and then for her life.  Her only fault was that she was a woman and she trusted the driver of what should have been a bus duly authorised to carry passengers. She did not know that even such a small assumption is too much to make in our 'world-class' capital. You never know whether you will emerge alive, dead, or fatally wounded.

Rest in peace, dear daughter, sister, friend. Those you leave behind in the world of the living cannot enjoy that luxury. I am saddened beyond words - Dilip

Dec 28: Gang-rape survivor has brain injury, is 'struggling against odds'

Dec 27: 'Painted, dented women'.. Indian President's son make gross sexist remarks
CPM leaders' remark on Mamata's 'rate' for rape leads to inquiry
Now, Mamata's MP makes shocking statement about Park Street rape case
These comments are not merely evidence of gender bias and stereotyping. Along with other recent statements by functionaries across the political spectrum, it signifies an upsurge of hatred of women's autonomy. After all, these comments come in the wake of a horrific crime. Do powerful men need to express their disagreeable feelings at this precise moment? If they do so despite knowing what has happened and what keeps happening every hour, it shows that the very idea of an equal, dignified human status for women is alien to them.

JUSTICE FOR WOMEN NOW! Citizen's March to India Gate on 27 December - Assemble at Nizamuddin Gol Gumbaz 12 noon onwards
साथियो , अभी उस क्रूर घटना को 10 दिन हुए , जनता जागी , आम से आम लडकिया अपने हक के लिये लडाई मे कूद पडी !! मगर इतने ही दिनो मे सरकार और पुलिस ने आन्दोलन को ठण्ढा करने के लिये तमाम हथकण्डे अपना लिये !  इतना ही नही,

इन्ही दिनो मे देश भर से और दिल्ली से भी कयी और बलात्कार और जबरदस्ती की घटनाए सामने आयी है ! यानी तय है , न तो समाज डरा या बदला है , न ही सरकार और व्यवस्था चेती है ! इसलिये नारी सुरक्षा , अधिकार और स्वतन्त्रता की हमारी यह लडाई अब निर्णायक लडाई बन चुकी है !  अभी चूके तो बहुत पीछे धकेल दी जाएगी यह लडाई !!

आइये, 'आधी जमीन आधे आसमान ' के हक के लिये एक बार फिर से ईन्डिया गेट पर कब्जा करे !

अभी पक्का २ बजे निजामुद्दीन गोल चक्कर से आगे बढना है , जीतना है !


Delhi gangrape victim admitted to Singapore hospital, condition critical

Rape victim’s courage was inspiring, says probe officer : What appalled the investigators was the confidence of the accused that they would never be caught.
Teen who was gang-raped commits suicide, cops refused to help her
A 17-year-old in Patiala who had been gang-raped has committed suicide because the police allegedly embarrassed her and refused to register a case for over a month.
Another woman allegedly gang-raped in car, dumped in south Delhi
Gang rape victim's father appeals for calm
An emotional father of the Delhi gangrape victim tonight appealed to the protesters to stop vandalism and help police in bringing the culprits to justice at the earliest. He also appealed to the people to pray for his 23-year-old daughter, who is fighting for her life at a city hospital. "My daughter is stable now. She is conscious. I appeal to all to refrain from vandalism and help the police so that the process of capturing and sentencing the culprits is successful," he told a TV news channel. The victim's father said the fighting capacity in his daughter still remains the same. "The capability to live and fight on is still the same in my daughter. Please pray to God that my daughter recovers. Vandalism will do no good. I appeal to you don't cause any damage so that both you and I can carry on in peace. No words can describe how brave my girl is," he said.

Dec 25Police constable injured during anti-rape protests dies
A terrible tragedy, compounding the tragedy already taking place as we hope and pray for the recovery of the young woman in Safdarjung hospital. It would be a good gesture if the protesters were to show sympathy for this man and his family. 

Dec 24: Girl's condition deteriorates, doctors say she's very serious

Curfew imposed in entire Manipur valley Indefinite curfew was on Monday (December 24) imposed in the entire Manipur valley as roads were blocked and tyres set ablaze as part of protests against the alleged molestation of a film actress by a Naga militant and the killing of a journalist in police firing, official sources said.

Dec 23Cop injured in protests at India Gate, in critical condition
There are reports of stone throwing and car-burning coming in, with young men engaged in what they think are forms of 'manly' protest. Machismo works to take over all protest, even a movement against molestation. Resistance is sabotaged from within, ending up strengthening the same rotten 'virile' culture. Violence only reproduces itself - the state & police can deal with an infinite number of burnt cars & broken barricades. This is what young men need to understand. It's the same story repeated over generations. This enables the officials to shift the focus to the violence, instead of rape and molestation. Those who are serious about the success of the agitation should dissociate themselves from all forms of 'heroic' theatrical display and focus on immediate and long-term remedial measures (administrative, legal as well as social), to stop violence against women.

Dec 22: Unprecedented protests near Rashtrapati Bhavan; police fire water cannon, tear gas, resort to lathicharge


दिल्ली में हुए बलात्कार पर भाजपा की नेता सुषमा स्वराज के संसद में भाषण से हम बड़े प्रभावित हुए हैं . हमे भाजपा के बारे में अब तक जो भी गलत फहमियां थीं वो सभी अब दूर हो गयी हैं . बस सुषमा जी हमारे विश्वास की रक्षा के लिये एक काम कर दीजिए . आपकी पार्टी द्वारा शाषित कर्नाटक के मैंगलूर में भगवा ब्रिगेड के गुंडों ने लड़कियों पर हमला किया था और सार्वजनिक रूप से उनके कपडे फाड़ दिये थे . जिस पत्रकार ने इस भयानक घटना का वीडियो बनाया था और पुलिस को दिया था . पुलिस ने उस पत्रकार को ही जेल में डाल दिया है . सुषमा जी उस पत्रकार को छुडवाने के लिये भी एक ज़ोरदार भाषण हो जाए प्लीज़ - Himanshu Kumar

Parvathi Menon: Shooting the messenger
Had it not been for 27-year-old Navin Soorinje, a reporter with Kasturi Channel Newz 24 in Mangalore, and footage that he shared with other channels, India would never have seen the images of what transpired behind the closed doors of “Morning Mist” homestay in Mangalore on the evening of July 28 this year.. It is a matter of shame that instead of being celebrated, Naveen Soorinje, who followed journalism’s best traditions in reporting the attack by Hindutva vigilantes in Mangalore earlier this year, is now languishing in jail

Rape Cultures in India: Pratiksha Baxi
The brutality of the assault on the 23 year old student who was gangraped and beaten mercilessly with iron rods when she resisted has anguished all of us—generating affect similar to the infamous Birla and Ranga murders decades ago. The nature of life threatening intestinal and genital injury has.. resulted in angry protests in the city and elsewhere. Yet most remain unaware that the brutality accompanying sexual violence such as assault with iron rods, swords and other objects; mutilating a woman’s body with acid; stripping and parading women; and burning them after a brutal gangrape routinely scar the pages of our bloodied law reporters. There is no political or judicial framework to redress such forms of aggravated sexual assault.. The judiciary, tall exceptions apart, construct rape as sex. This perspective from the rapist’s point of view, does not frame rape as political violence, which posits all women as sexual objects. Rape is repeatedly constructed as an act of aberrant lust, pathological sexual desire or isolated sexual deviancy. Politicians for most part do no better. The parliamentary discourse on rape, after the brutal attack on the 23 year old woman who is fighting for her life, uses sexual violence as a resource for doing politics, and therefore re-entrenches rape culture. By arguing that rape is worse than death and rape should attract death penalty, rape survivors are relegated the space of the living dead. The social, political and legal mechanisms of shaming, humiliating, and boycotting rape survivors are not challenged. Nor are the mechanisms of converting rape narratives into a source of further titillation and excitement displaced. Rather most political actors convert rape into a technique of doing party politics.. 

The men (and even some women in positions of power) who lead India are successfully able to de-link the celebratory stories of neoliberalism, militarisation, nationalism, growth and development from the toleration of sexual violence as a sport, a commodity, as collateral damage, or a necessary technique to suppress women’s autonomy. Fact of the matter is that Surekha Bhotmange and her daughter were stripped, paraded, raped and killed in Khairlanji for expressing and asserting their autonomy. The men who assaulted and murdered them were not tried for rape.  Does anyone even remember that Bhanwari Devi’s appeal still languishes in the Rajasthan High Court? A courageous woman in whose debt all middle class women working in universities and everywhere else remain for the promulgation of the Vishaka judgment. We got the guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace, but Bhanwari Devi did not get justice.  All of us remain in the debt of BilkeesBano who is perhaps the first survivor of mass scale sexual violence in Independent India to secure a prosecution in a rape and riot case but only after the trial was transferred. Manorama’s gangrape and murder by the army did not result in the withdrawal of AFSPA, which gives the army the licence to rape as ifto rape is in the line of duty. Can we de-link these issues from what Delhi protests today? Surely we must make these connections since we have benefited from the courageous litigation by women whose lives have been made absolutely abject.We must then equally resist the politics, which institutes public amnesia about these voices of suffering.


Resist patriarchal culture! 
Demand 50% reservation for women in public services & representative bodies
NB- Violence against women occurs across all religious communities & castes. That is why the politics produced by all patriarchal culture, of whichever hue, does not place the complete and unconditional equality of women anywhere in their agenda. That’s why they disrupt progressive legislation such as the Women’s Reservation Bill – some openly, some by deceit. (Study it carefully, it was introduced in 1996 and there is a visible cross-party design to stall it by every means possible, thus proving the need for women’s reservation. If the Congress, BJP & Left parties all agree on the Bill, why haven't they enacted it? They have an overwhelming majority. Are they using the ideal of consensus to block it because they don't like it themselves?)

Political parties will invariably enter such agitations. They see such movements merely as an opportunity to say “we are with you, vote for us”. But surely that is not the point? Civic movements can try and ensure that parties enter as supporters, not by trying to take them over for their own ends. And political leaders should clarify their ideas on the oppressive culture that places women in a permanently degraded status & enables crimes such as rape and molestation. The complete equality of women is NOT part of any major religious tradition. Patriarchy is well-entrenched across the globe. Womens’ equality will be a major departure from ‘traditional’ culture, and we should not be afraid of recognising this fact. Therefore political leaders (who wish to fulfill the role of leadership) should stop citing ‘tradition’ as a source for their values. They should make clear what part of tradition they uphold and what they reject. What is the point of glorifying this or that religious or political tradition if it contains toxic ideas about women and about physical assaults on women? (See the extract from VD Savarkar below). Why weep tears over this rape case when your party protects rape-accused politicians? When your party leads the resistance to the most progressive piece of legislation introduced in the Lok Sabha in recent time - the Women’s Reservation Bill?

Parties merely appear to lead, in actual fact they are reduced to following only their instinct towards power. Hence they cater to some of the worst instincts of their support base – most of these instincts are part & parcel of machismo culture. The only way to force them to do anything different and positive is to create an unstoppable force of public opinion, so that all parties feel obliged to ‘go with the flow’ or risk isolation. Otherwise it’s remains in their interest (and that of the establishment) to dismiss democratic agitations and/or to push them towards a narrow focus. This is what happens when there is violence, and also when masses of people call for ‘death’ without understanding that even extreme penalties for crimes can only be handed out if and when the criminal justice system functions efficiently and without built-in bias against women. Law by itself can achieve little if the people entrusted with implementing it and interpreting it are disinterested or unreliable. (A recent SC judgement reduced a sentence of a rapist-killer on the ground that he was drunk. How pathetic! now anyone caught driving under the influence of alcohol can say, I was drunk, so please reduce my sentence. They did the same thing in the Staines judgement, where the SC Bench argued that since the murders of Staines and his children were committed in a spirit of communal animus, somehow this reduced the gravity of the crime.)

The assaults on women are taking place and continue to take place in every corner of the country. Only a prolonged & multi-faceted campaign can push back the tide of violence. It will take many years. But institutional changes such as statutory reservation for women in the services (including, immediately, the police) & representative assemblies are an important starting point. Such reservations at the panchayat level have already had positive social and administrative effects. If a broad coalition arguing for this begins campaigning well before the next elections, parties will be forced to take a clear position on the Bill.

Those who shout slogans calling for Hindu unity, Muslim unity or the unity of this or that caste-combine will never call for women’s unity. They can never dream of a democratic alliance based upon unconditional equality of the sexes. Such a programme would signify a sea-change in the socio-economic structure, and transform social life beyond recognition. Any political group that does not call for such equality (and spell out exactly what that means - in the work-place, in politics and in representative institutions) can be marked as basically undemocratic, no matter how progressive it claims to be.

Women of all classes, communities and castes face oppression and violent intimidation. Is this not a basis for a different and much-needed politics of cross-gender human equality and freedom from fear and intimidation? Would not such a politics have a democratic effect upon society? South Asia has produced much talk of communal identity. Communal politics has driven society to the brink of destruction and catastrophe. Why cannot the identity of women be taken to be a substantial basis for combination and solidarity?

Does it make sense for people to keep describing rape victims as ‘living corpses’ (refer Sushma Swaraj's speech in Parliament) as if women who are raped must forgo the chance of recovery and must not aspire to a happy life? Why do the political agitators place so much store by ‘honour’?

Rape is a violent crime and must be punished as such. The culture behind rape, the habits that encourage it must be identified and confronted – but that culture includes concepts such as ‘honour’ & ‘living corpse’ etc. The politics of the communalists (whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh etc) is a patriarchal politics of machismo & male pride. So is the politics of MS Yadav, who has determinedly stalled the WR Bill for a decade and a half. All these combinations are fundamentally conservative and anti-democratic in their attachment to the patriarchal system – which, to my mind, is the bulwark of capitalism and militarism.

No basic change of a democratic nature can or will take place until there is a sustained movement for gender equality. The movement in support of the brave young woman who is fighting for her life in Safdarjung hospital deserves the full support of all democratic citizens. I salute the young victim for her courage, both when resisting her assailants and now, as she struggles to remain alive. We must demand accountability from officials, police and elected representatives, and an end to the ethos of impunity. I hope the current awareness about women’s right to live and work without fear will generate a strong political movement of both women and men, across classes and castes, that will work towards that end. - Dilip

However, the clamour for death is worth thinking about. What use are enhanced sentences when significant elements in the criminal justice system are shamelessly biased? and work towards enabling the culture of impunity?

Girl Brutally Gang-Raped in Delhi; Outpouring of Indian Women’s Rage!

Brave Delhi gang-rape survivor is alert and conscious, say doctors

December 21: The raping continues unabated:
Protests against Manipur actor's molestation spread
19-year-old allegedly gangraped by five persons
Woman drugged, gang-raped in Delhi
Three-year-old raped by father, abandoned by mother, struggles for survival
12-year-old girl abducted, gang-raped in Rajasthan
Doctor molests rape victim in MP

Please remember Jaya Bachchan seeking votes for her party in these words: yeh mardon ki party hai. Some years prior to that, her leader declared in the Lok Sabha that hum bhi jabardasti karna jaante hain - with reference to the Samajwadi Party's steadfast opposition to the Women's Reservation Bill, introduced in 1996, and still not enacted although most major parties are committed to it. Will Ms Bachchan commit herself to changing her party's stand on the Bill?

Please remember Bhanwari Bai, a village-level social sathin in Rajasthan, employed under the Women's Development Programme for implementing official policy including the prevention of child marriage, female infanticide & the protection of rape victims. On September 22, 1992, she was gang-raped in the presence of her husband (who was severely beaten) by five men incensed by her campaign against child marriage. The 1997 judgement of the Trial Court acquitted the rapists - the judge averred that no Indian rustic would stand by while his wife was being raped, so the complainant must have lied. He added that being “upper-caste” the alleged offenders could not have touched, much less raped a “low-caste” woman. (
Bhanwari's appeal still languishes in the Rajasthan High Court). Remember also the Mathura rape case of 1972, involving the rape of a 16 year old tribal girl by Maharashtrian policemen & the 1979 Supreme Court judgement acquitting the accused. Here's an article on that: For an effective law on rape  <http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2023/stories/20031121003109700.htm

Here's a report on the aftermath of that case:

Please remember Priyadarshini Matoo, law student in DU, stalked for months, raped & murdered in 1996 (despite being under police protection) by a senior policeman's son, who was then acquitted by the trial court. The HC reversed the decision and awarded him the death penalty. In 2010 the SC commuted this to life. :
I would like to add some thing about this case which I learned upon speaking with one of the victims' friends - the DU Law Faculty student community was heavily divided about the entire 'affair' and there were young men - training to be lawyers -  who celebrated the news that  Priyadarshini had been raped. Thereafter during the course of the trial it became clear that elements in the police were doing their utmost to help the accused. The trial court judgement was unique in the judges statement that even though he was convinced of the guilt of the culprit, he could not convict him because of infirmities in the investigation.

Do the police respect women?
Here's an investigation into the attitude of Delhi Police: http://dilipsimeon.blogspot.in/2012/04/how-delhis-policemen-view-rape-tehelka.html

There's a rapist culture at work all over South Asia - remember the 2 lakh Bangladesh rape victims of 1971, assaulted by Pakistani soldiers, named Birangona by Mujibur Rahman, and how they were later treated by society at large. (Sushmaji's living corpses?). A
fter 1971, when ‘war babies’ were born, Mujib tried to lessen the stigma by terming them Biranganas (war heroines).  But this was soon twisted into Baranganas (prostitutes)— reflecting social attitudes  and the difficulty of socially and politically addressing rape victims’ issues in this part of the world.. Bangladesh Rape Victims Say War Crimes Overlooked

Also note that under the Hudood Ordinance, rape victims in Pakistan have often ended up being accused of adultery & punished with extreme penalties. Thousands languish in jail. 

It is good there's new energy in the resistance - such anger was present in the late 70's too. But there needs to be a renewed all-round campaign against impunity; and for the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill. And this must involve changing attitudes, not merely demanding enhancement of sentences - what use can death sentences mean if the entire justice system is riddled with bias?

Does the Hindutva 'Parivar' respect women?
Since Sushma Swaraj is so incensed, we could ask her considered opinion of the Hindutva hero Savarkar's views on rape. (He sees it as a legitimate weapon against 'Muslim invaders') Will Ms Swaraj and the Hindutva brigade repudiate these toxic ideas?

Here's a citation from the great man: (from the book Women & the Hindu Right; article on Surat, Savarkar and Draupadi by Purushottam Agrawal; citing V.D. Savarkar in Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Rajdhani Granthagar, 1963, translated 1971): Quote: " The Muslim women never feared retaliation or punishment at the hands of any Hindu for their heinous crime (of playing a devilish part in the mutilation and harassment of Hindu women). Suppose if from the earliest Muslim invasions , the Hindus also, whenever they were victors in the battlefield decided to pay the Muslim fair sex in the same coin or punish them in some other ways that is, by conversion even by force, then with this horrible apprehension in their heart, they would have desisted from their evil design against Hindu ladies.. Even now we proudly refer to the noble acts of Chatrapati Shivaji and Chinaji Appa when they honourably sent back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan or the wife of the Portuguese governor of Bassein respectively. Did not the plaintive screams and pitiful lamentations of the millions of molested Hindu women which reverberated throughout the length and breadth of the country reach the ears of Shivaji Maharaj and Chinaji Appa? Once they (Muslims) are haunted with the dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women to stand in the same predicament as is the case with Hindu women, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women. ... But because of the then prevalent perverted religious ideas (sadguna vikriti), about chivalry to women which ultimately proved highly detrimental to the Hindu community,  neither Shivaji Maharaj nor Chinaji Appa could do such wrongs to the Muslim women .. It was the Hindu idea of chivalry which saved the Muslim women simply because they were women from heavy punishment for committing heinous crimes against Hindu women..  their womanhood became their shield sufficient to protect them.." (end quote) VD Savarkar: Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History Section 92-93, The Hindu chivalry towards enemy women; paras 449 - 455

Do the police respect women? "Tell me Judge Sahib, where can a woman made helpless by police brutality go?" Soni Sori's letter to Supreme Court -"I argued with the Naxalites and raised the tri-colour national flag at my ashram school when some other schools flew a black flag on 15 August. Even on this, SP Ankit Garg swore at me using very bad words and said that “you are an ordinary tribal woman and you talk lofty things about the flag, who do you think you are? [tumhari aukat kya hai?]” Was it my mistake that I had argued using the words of my education and raised the national flag? Judge Sahib, the Naxalism problem cannot be finished by the gun because this will end life itself. But the strength of education is more than the strength of the gun. For so many years I have tried to develop good education in the Naxalite affected area, and I have also been successful because of the strength of this education which has kept the peace in that area. But the police and administration does not want such a peaceful atmosphere and so they have used one excuse or another to put me in jail despite the fact that I am innocent. They have forcibly taken my honor and dignity. Forced my three children to live like orphans..."

Violence against women: The backlash against equality

Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape - Susan Brownmiller (1975)
"From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear."

Some positive news:
Rising suicides shocked villagers into accepting love marriages 
Since January this year,nine love marriages have been solemnized in Kalithimbam.The village also has no opposition to their girls marrying outside the tribe though there has been no such alliance yet.At a time when the rest of Tamil Nadu is witnessing a ganging up of non-dalit groups against inter-caste marriages,Kalithimbam takes pride that it has over 40 daughters-in-law,born in dalit as well as backward communities. This wasn't so always.The change in mindset came about two years ago after a series of suicides by young men whose families had opposed their romance with girls outside their tribe.The suicides shocked our village.Why should we allow our children to die just because they find life partners outside the community Now the village is conducting each and every marriage with celebration without considering whether the bride is from the tribe, says B Geetha,a woman political activist in the village. All the villagers then took an oath not to oppose love marriages.If the brides family opposes the romance,village elders take the responsibility to persuade the girls family and solemnize the marriage in front of the Perumal temple in the village. R Ruseeswaran, vice-president Thalamalai Panchayat which includes Kalithimbam,puts the transformation in perspective.We have to understand the realities around. After completing education,children move out of the village for jobs and the chances of falling in love with those from other communities are very high. In an age in which mobile phones rule the roost,it would be foolish to oppose love marriages, he says.TNN

From the USA: My Guns Are Less Regulated Than My Uterus
In this country, my uterus is more regulated than my guns. Birth control and reproductive health services are harder to get than bullets. What is that about? Guns don't kill people -- vaginas do?

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