From Mathira to Sunny Leone: Stop blaming women for rape

“If condom ads like this are shown on Indian television and in newspapers, then rape incidents will rise” - really?

Sanjay Kumar September 10, 2015
Why does rape take place in the first place? Rape incidents from different parts of India make headlines that spread with alarming frequency throughout the nation. There are many who believe that this matter is a social malaise. Most of these ‘thinkers’ are from the field of politics.

What happens when a quack becomes a medical practitioner?

He exposes himself to public ridicule.

The reasons behind rape are reconstructed by the politicians. They blame everything but fail to dig deep into the dichotomous social structure and the patriarchal mind-set of the society.

A senior communist leader, Atul Anjan, stated,
“If the condom ads like this are shown on Indian television and in newspapers, then rape incidents will rise.”

He holds the mentality that does not go with the progressive ideology, and the persona that the comrade pretends to have as a people’s representative.

I would like to highlight that a condom advert is not meant to encourage rape, but to convey a message. By making this slanderous comment, the politician is not only casting aspersion on the individuality of a woman, but also questions the credibility of a woman who is anything but a hypocrite.

We should give credit to Sunny Leone that she, without being apologetic about her former profession, tries to lead a life on her own terms. She knows how to reach out to the wider audiences, but the male chauvinism in the society is reflected in their response to her. The prism of looking at her is too narrow to accommodate anyone, who has not been a conformist in her personal and professional conduct.

In India, being a male-dominated society, thus to no surprise, woman are treated as inferior and guilty for moral perjury, if she decides life her life her own way.

Leone is an encouraging example for many women who may wish for a second chance, women who want to join the mainstream media, despite the skeletons in their closet.

Not too long ago, a village head in western Uttar Pradesh blamed ‘girls who wear jeans’ for the cause of rape. Furthermore, some blamed noodles for this evil act. Also, a senior regional leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, said that ‘boys will be boys’ to justify the violation of women. Across the border, a similar advert was banned since it was “perceived as indecent, immoral and in sheer disregard to our socio-cultural and religious values”.

Politicians are the mirror image of the society they live in. Their thought process is in tune with what the majority thinks. Therefore, they defend a malaise with patriarchal arguments. Such aspects cannot change, unless a real glasnost or reforms invade the patriarchal social structure of the country.

In the Indian society, or for that matter in South Asia, society is a male construct. It favours and grooms men, and female are considered as an adjunct, but not an important player in the decision making process. Therefore, the dowry system amongst the Hindus is an attack on the very existence of women in the society. Women are perceived as ‘honour’, not an individual, and this ‘honour’ has to be protected by men.

Hindu’s preeminent religious book, Ramayana, depicts God Ram asking his wife Sita, who he cherished so much, to walk through fire to prove her purity after being kidnapped by Ravana.

Majority of the men have this kind of attitude towards women, not only in India but other parts of the subcontinent as well. Women are put on trial and are blamed for the violence and violation that visits them.

Indrani Mukherjee faces severe scrutiny from media and the society, not because she has allegedly committed a grave crime, but because she was ambitious. For a woman, to be ambitious and mobile becomes a reason for her character assassination in our society. Court has to start her formal trial but media, another reflection of our society, has already put the lady on trial and announced the verdict.

This kind of mentality pervades larger discourse related to women. It’s a sexual apartheid that treats women as second-class citizen.

The society has been changing, but not fast enough to eliminate such medieval thoughts. A system steeped in feudal mind-sets resisting to change. Politicians, who utter nonsense regarding rape and blame women for their own misery, are agents of the status quo.

A strong law is not the answer or a deterrent to those who commit such crimes against women. The mentalities need to change, and only then will the society change.
Sanjay Kumar The author is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asian and international politics. He tweets as @destinydefier (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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