Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are Indian Men Getting Stereotyped as Rapists?


 
Image courtesy - www.Telegraph.co.uk


In an interview for a BBC documentary, Mukesh Singh, one of the accused in the Jyoti Singh Pandey rape case (romanticised as Nirbhaya by the press), claimed that it was the victim who was responsible for the brutal assault and murder. Had she not fought back, the gang would have dropped her off after 'doing her', instead of beating her so savagely that she died two weeks later from her injuries.

A man convicted of brutalising a woman with iron rods then went ahead and came up with a comprehensive list of what women should do to avoid getting raped, since it’s her fault anyway.

This attitude of blaming everything, from a woman’s choice of clothing, to what was she doing so late at night and if she’s out with a guy, she must be loose and willing, is nothing new. Rape is the only crime where the victim’s morals are questioned while the perpetrator wears the ‘poor me’ halo around his head like a crown. In fact, Mukesh Singh’s views on women are shared by many including those in power. Haven’t we heard enough Politicians blame a “woman’s body language for inviting potential rapists lurking around in the streets” or insisting that “if any woman goes along with a man, with or without her consent, she should be hanged!”

This ritual of shaming women who are confident enough to speak up for themselves, fight regressive mindsets and lecherous bosses who think they are entitled to sexual favours, is not just restricted to our polity but many men and women who claim to be educated. But not every man who thinks “decent girls don't roam around at 9 o'clock at night, that they are meant for housework and not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes”, goes around raping women.

Nirbhaya’s rapist’s remarks represent a sick mindset, whose idea of fun is raping a woman and beating her up ruthlessly with rods because she dared to resist.


Did we really expect that years in jail would alter the mindset of a man who’s essentially a murderer and a sadistic sociopath? Maybe, as the reporter in the BBC article suggests – he’s not the disease but the symptom of a sick society and hanging him will not make the rot go away. Maybe, it’s me who’s at fault for not being able to garner empathy for a man so chillingly unmoved by that blood-splattered night. In fact, Singh kept expressing bewilderment that such a fuss was being made about this rape.

I feel that a man who doesn’t value life, doesn’t deserve our understanding.

I am not appalled that this man awaiting a death sentence shows no repentance for his horrific act that united us in grief and revulsion for what those men did to her. We all cried for that brilliant girl whose only mistake was her fate that led her to a wrong place, at a wrong time.

What’s more appalling is that BBC Four will air this interview on International Womens' Day as compelling evidence of the atrocious attitudes shown by Indian men towards women.

Approaching a convicted rapist for his views on women, using it to mirror Indian men's attitude towards women, ends up stereotyping our men as the libidinous things who have nothing better to do than rape and subjugate women. It's like approaching a hooligan English soccer fan for his views on Britain's sporting culture or asking Bill Cosby or Rolf Harris for their views on sexual harassment.

Does one sick mind represent millions of Indian men, many of whom are caring fathers, sons, friends who make us feel safe and cherished?

I’m not suggesting that our country is safe for women. In fact, it’s far from the truth. But our knee jerk reaction of treating all men with hostility and mistrust every time a girl gets assaulted doesn’t help anyone. Rather, it fills our men with resentment and guilt for crimes they are not even responsible for. Labelling Delhi as a rapist city, men from Haryana and UP as sex predators, accusing women of playing victims and overreacting to a ‘trivial thing called rape’, only ends up fomenting bitterness.

It’s not a game of one upmanship where we get to point fingers at each other but a serious crime that everyone irrespective of their gender must condemn in strongest possible words. Tragically, many including certain sections of our police view sexual assault as punishment for being a bad girl and anybody filing a case against her rapist as being a whore who didn’t get paid.

The bitter truth is, if men judge us on the basis of the length of our dresses, depth of our cleavage and how many drinks we have downed, we are no different. The shabbily dressed man walking behind us in the dark lane makes us nervous. If we are alone in the elevator with a cabbie or a courier guy, rather than make small talk with them, like we do with other residents, we anxiously check the floor number on the panel. Even we judge men on the basis of the clothes they wear, the kind of English they speak and the number of chains they are sporting around their neck. Vicky is meant to be uncouth, the man with too many shirt buttons open must be a letch and men from certain strata are not meant to be trusted.

Maybe that’s why it hurts so much that millions of women watching the interview will think of all Indian men as Mukesh Singh, and would walk a little faster, clutching on to their purses tighter as they encounter an Indian guy in the subway.

Also published on The http://www.thenewsminute.com/lives/821

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers


52 comments:

  1. A sad reflection of what our society nurtures! I do not know why BBC has decided to home on some sic personality to mirror the Indian society. We still have a long way to go to catch up on some basics with the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality and respecting women!

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    1. As usual India stands divided whether the documentary deserved a ban or not. But I do wish they had not resorted to highlight the regressive comments made by the defence lawyers and Mukesh Singh for publicity.

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  2. Purba, I am so repulsed by his face. This animal needs to be ignored and punished as soon as possible. The media has gone crazy in creating a demand for outrage.
    In some ways we do end up stereotyping men when we generalize comments.

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    1. And not a sliver of regret for what he and his friends did to Jyoti?

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  3. Certainly a perspective that makes me too a bit uneasy... yes, why club all Indian men in a lone cliché? But I will still want the film to be screened as every little bit does contribute to lessen the pervasive evil of insecure nights for women.

    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

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    1. The root cause of the growing rape culture is that many still don't think of it as a crime but as punishment meted out to women.

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  4. I am not sure what BBC tried to accomplish by this documentary. I somehow want to believe that India's image in the global media has changed and no one portrays us as the barbaric snake charmers anymore. But it seems BBC either still lives in that time or has decided to go in the reverse gear.

    I still believe that by making this documentary , at least they have brought back the issue to the forefront. Our media circus seemed to have forgotten that this guy was still alive. May be the renewed hatred for this guy will expedite his sentence. I would want to see if Home Ministry asks BBC to shoot another documentary then!

    About your point, for the women being cautious , probably judgemental about men of a certain "type", while it is sad, I support that. There are a lot of bad men out there and I would want my near and dear ones to be safe than sorry.

    This was a topic on which I was itching to write just because of how much it disturbed me but couldn't due to professional engagements . But seeing someone else express the same emotions, in a better way at that, has surprisingly given me the same sense of relief as writing would have given. Thanks for that!

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    1. Prateek, I wrote this for my husband and all the good men I know in my life. They deserve a voice too.

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  5. This Leslee has chosen the dregs of society to stereotype Indian men.I could not even read her article through to the end.It is preposterous.If she had to choose someone why did she not choose Jyoti's friend who stood by her?She is totally biased and looking for rave comments.Sick !!!!

    And Arnab's debate about this whole issue too,i feel was fashioned for the TRPs.He could have said in four lines what he dragged on and on.

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    1. If India has a rape culture. Britain does a wonderful job of covering up the depravities of its rich and the famous.

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  6. Purba this animal's 'thobra on my blog's reading list revolts me every time i open my blog.Sickening.

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    1. Agree, even the sight of him makes my skin crawl.

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  7. I couldn't sleep last night for a lot of time as I had read the interview just yesterday. It was so disturbing - not only as you rightly said - that he represents a part of a bigger problem and that too..at so many levels, but also because of the audacity of letting him have a public hearing of his reasons. We don't ask murderers and rapists their reasons for doing so and air them on public television. They should be reserved for closed door analysis by criminal psychologists.

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    1. What's scary is that imprisonment, worldwide outrage and protests and Jyoti's death due to injuries inflicted did nothing to change this barbarian's heart.

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  8. I have a big problem with the entire approach of this documentary. If you choose rapists to interview, I am sure the things they say will be shocking. Actions speak louder than words and theirs have already done. I don't think that the documentary will be painting all Indian men with the same brush. Like Asha said above, such views must be only reserved for closed door analysis. They do much more harm when shown for public consumption. Who knows which idiot will actually feel emboldened by this crap. Just the entire media effort to cash in on this issue makes me despondent.

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    1. Maybe the documentary does project India in a positive light after all. I'll reserve my judgement till I have watched it. But all I can say is, the statements of the defence lawyers and Mukesh SIngh do not represent us.

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  9. I'm furious at BBC for even contemplating this entire episode...what were they thinking interviewing a convicted rapist? Really? They think that shows the mindset of all Indian men...!! As if their perception of India being a country of snake charmers wasn't enough... Yes, we have problems in our society with respect to how women are treated in various sections, yes we have notions of misplaced honor..But it's changing..yes, some part of our society is still shackled in archaic beliefs but it's changing.. One despicable man's opinion is not a stamp on how we think, how our men think.. I'm worried that those regressive creatures lurking in shadows will be emboldened by the crap this jailed neanderthal spoke!

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    1. I suggest you watch the documentary. I have watched it and no where do they paint all Indian men in the same brush. They have interviewed Jyoti's tutor, parents and others too.The rapists' and their lawyers' interview only underlines that rape is not a mistake done by boys. It reflects their horrible mindset. The documentary does not take their part and does not invoke sympathy to the rapists but only make us hate them more. I am ashamed of India's reaction to the documentary.. Pathetic.

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    2. I totally agree with you. I shell shocked to see the negative reaction to this documentary, especially from women. Really, pathetic.

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    3. I think most of us were more outraged that convicted rapist showed no repentance and glibly put all the blame on the victim.

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    4. agree with anditooblog. The documentary does not paint the picture that all Indian men are rapist.
      Also I think it is futile to think about whether the convicted criminal is repenting or not.
      I mean why to expect and why does it matter?
      The criminal's views were not shocking to me. Rather, it re-validates the symptoms of the rot that is ingrained in the society.
      It is high time we concentrated on solving the root problem...

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  10. I'm with you on this, Purba. It's perhaps more appalling that BBC chooses to air the documentary. I mean, the man has already shown how awful his actions can be. What good can come out of airing his views, I don't really know. For all we know, there may be other retards who agree with his views and decide to go on another rampage.

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    1. I'm just scared that many will take these views as validation for their bigotry.

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  11. Why is this man bewildered about the fuss around this case? Because for him women are sex objects..thats why they exist! This is a sick mindset. I hope newer generations grow up respecting each other.
    Hanging him may not solve anything , atleast it will send across a message that women are not out there inviting rape..!

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    1. Just implementing the many laws for women's safety will go a long way. Sex predators get emboldened when they know they can get away.

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  12. A child 5 years old was raped by a ricksha guy , left to bleed , a few weeks back an Arabic teacher raped his year old student.. and this is where it hurts most ,,and I am speechless as a father of a daughter and a grandfather of 3 girl children.. and whether you hang them or castrate them..the rot has entered the soul of man.. his repressive libido seeking new victims everyday ,, a man in mumbai had raped his own mother for not giving money for booze,..even a eunuch god cant save womanhood ,,

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    1. I am not for death sentence. But when it comes to men who brutalize children, they deserve no mercy.

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  13. A lot of truth in your write....

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  14. The girl was not "beaten" by iron rods. The rods were forced inside her body and twisted to take out the intestines. Sorry to put it like this, but wanted people to know what rape is really like. Given that, most Indian men are good people, and while I do want the program to be aired, I do not want people to think all Indian men beasts.

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    1. It was too painful to even write about it.

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  15. good that it was aired. I come from a city where discussing honor killing is normal. I dont really blame this guy as such; upbringing and education change ppl and we will NEVER be able to address rape without addressing the root cause. For many of "us", woman is and will continue to be an object since we see n imbibe that daily :(

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    1. But how does an English documentary help in changing mindsets of such people?

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  16. i think everyone wants their share of attention or fame and they do various activities to attain them. i don't find anything abnormal with the documentary,people always cash on suffering and sorrow to become popular and famous instead of dealing with real issues at ground level.movies like blood diamond, hurt locker are same as this documentary which became popular by showcasing atrocities one sided.

    when it comes to women aka girls,they are as bad as men.i can give simple example of girls behavior. when girls are in a group or in company of boys,they are like wolf pack.last weekend i went to inox to watch a movie,these girls were keeping legs on front row seats and chit chatting louder.when i told them not to disturb,they called me chashmey. i will not have sympathy if these kinda girls who are insensitive to others gets raped.these are as bad as hooligans and rapists,why should i show sympathy,just because of gender FEMALE?.
    basically humans are categorised as people who are human and people who have animal behavior. you will find equal number of men and women with animal behavior and less number of people who are human.

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    1. A part of me agrees with you but then how many instances of gang rapes and brutalization by women have you seen or read about?

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    2. brutality is measured at different contexts,men are violent when it comes to certain issues and brutality of women goes unreported coz our society downplays their actions at different circumstances and in different roles.our law too is pro-women coz law thinks women are always noble or on right side. i can't walk into a police station and file a complaint on a woman regarding harassment at work place or by woman landlord coz its man's world.

      women too will have same brutal behavior like rapes if they get equal place and importance in society.brutal mindset is not about gender,its majority dominant behavior that dictates terms.

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  17. The documentary does not paint all Indian men with the same brush. It is the problem with our media which focused only on the rapist's interview. The documentary also has interview of men like Jyoti's father, her tutor and men who protested. Its so sad people made opinions without watching the documentary. India's reaction to the documentary is appalling. Sadly now it is pulled out from youtube too.

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    1. I think it was the way it was publicized that went against 'India's Daughter'.

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  18. What had happened is terrible.
    But,what is there so much Halla Bulloo about in the media?
    BBC was given permission,they interviewed him.Where is the problem?
    If we have some spine,instead of talking muck ,will media suggest banning BBC?

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    1. Banning the documentary was a bad decision and went against 'India shining' image that we so want to protect.

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  19. We are, here, in the middle of an age of transformation. Today, the front-runners of Women equality are not fighting for equality exactly, they're fighting for the coveted power which men have kept as trophies since a long time.
    Men, are confused at what is happening, how did yesterday's cow suddenly grow horns. She's supposed to be a lamb and take it all up quietly. How dare she cross this Lakshman rekha set forth by nobody knows who (for the actual one was not this one). Only a few might have a truly progressive mindset of what needs to be done, but they are just as few, and are not without their own boundations.

    After reading this piece, I am reminded of 'Angels and Demons' that you wrote in Mango Chutney, how strong is the echo of the same battle-cry there, and here. As for the documentary, I have not watched it yet.

    Regards,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. The more she wants to surge ahead, the more they want to pull her back and punish her.

      Right now hope is all we've got.

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  20. Please share your opinion at http://www.movietalkr.com/movies/india-s-daughter-a-documentary-46 , rate and review the documentary to show your support against its ban in india.

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    1. Let me watch the documentary first.

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  21. A brilliant post Purba. We can agree to disagree, though. A reflective post as usual where it shouldn't give a perspective of us being a country of rapists. First, I have issue with the documentary asking why a rapist is being glamorized and made heroic. Though a good argument is that it describe people's psyche. On the other hand, it's not about men but the sick mindset perpetrating society eschewed by ugly social conservatism and patriarchal dogma. Of course, I oppose the ban which is ridiculous and let people make their choice.

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    1. The ban was the best publicity Leslee Udwin could have hoped for. It worked for her and against India.

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  22. Thats one gutsy write up, Purba. It s weird that the govt. wants the video banned in India but is okay with it being screened around the world. As if that is going to help or alleviate the seriousness of matters. Sad state of affairs.. :(

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    1. I wish more good men would join in the fight against the ugly mindset that uses rape as a tool to show women their place.

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  23. I have not watched the documentary, although i dont see what is the fuss about , I also find that OUR own media is full of Idiots who can make anything sensational. and I can never understand this banning thing, WHAT use is the ban when anyone can watch it still over the net.. So what is the need of banning other than creating another scandal.

    BBC making this documentary well I am glad they made it because such issues need to remain in news so something can be done, usually we the people are fickle minded out of sight out of mind, we forget too easily, and have forgotten tooo


    Bikram's

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    1. Banning the documentary reinforced the stereotype that we were fighting against. It painted us a intolerant country not open to reasoning.

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  24. Beautiful post Purba!! Documentaries such as these often paint a distorted image of a place like ours. I for one, feel that showing something disturbing is not going to help or heal a society. Why make movies about rape? Why not make movies on rape survivors who have beaten the odds and have shown the world that they are the bravehearts the world needs, and that nothing could kill their verve to move on and live? Say, Sunitha Krishnan types for example!

    Doesn't this world need more of encouraging news where there is hope for a tortured woman where she realizes that she no more should be labelled as a victim, but as a survivor! Survivors are strong and such women who make that difference should be the news in this world! As for the interview of the accused and his lawyer, I do not understand why the world is pissed or appalled by their attitude towards women? I mean, what did the world expect, that they would be repenting? And, these men definitely not represent the country (which is why I was not comfortable with this movie being broadcast in our country). But then, neither do the few good men!

    And now coming to the most crucial point, the image of a woman in our country been always portrayed as someone weak, someone who could be easily victimised by circumstances, or someone who easily falls for the wrong guy or even that someone who is meant to be targeted should she adopt an unconventional approach towards life. For instance, has someone even attempted making movies like Quentin Tarantino kind? Even if they were, such movies would disappear without a trace. But, if it is the Khan club romancing women half their age, I don't even have to mention about the publicity they get even before the release. The problem is basic. What has been played and replayed over the years in Indian Cinema has actually become what the society thinks of a woman today.

    And as long as we have the Ekta Kapoor kinds (who still are earning bread butter by portraying women the way they usually do) and Karan Johar kinds (who glorify men as some eternal Greek God....I mean seriously, haven't the Khans aged? If people don't believe, they should go back watching their movies decades back!), not much is going to change as long as the mindsets of the millions in our country.

    I wrote something similar here:

    http://narayanikarthik.blogspot.in/2015/03/why-women-are-treated-way-they-are-from.html
    http://narayanikarthik.blogspot.in/2015/03/good-news-only.html

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  25. hello Purba,
    I appreciate your thoughts and feelings for woman safety.
    I will be happy if you post some solutions on it...perhaps you narrate the problem.
    Pick small examples and then move towards solution. For example, If you may write about how a street light can make woman feel safer unlike if the street is dark.
    regards http://yourwellwisherprogram.wordpress.com

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Psst... let me know what you are thinking.

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