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Real discussion about sexual violence

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--arti--

Goldie

--arti--

Kasturi, RKS Banner Contest Winner

Joined: 20 June 2008

Posts: 1670

Posted: 09 March 2013 at 7:43am | IP Logged
This thread is for those who want to discuss sexual violence:
1. Its root causes as a form of gender violence (think deep here, maybe beyond "the clothes actresses wear these days" - some have suggested that we have a rape culture, for example)

2. How it is often discussed or portrayed (e.g. by the Western or Indian media, by upper class/middle class/poor or working class women and men)

3. Cultural stigma against rape

4. Self-defeating ways in which we talk about rape and other forms of violence against women (e.g. "it's the woman's fault")

5. Thoughtful, long-term strategies to end sexual violence (e.g. getting serious about rape - avoiding jokes about it and so on - as well as believing and providing support for women when they come forward to say they've been assaulted, redefining masculinity as being at all times respectful of women and their sexual choices and consent, and so on)

6. How to deal with offenders as a society in a just and meaningful way (i.e. is transformative justice possible.. this really is a big question for me and I have no idea what the solution is. Or we are going to just indulge in collective anger and a tit for tat attitude, like calling for barbaric things like castration and so on, basically adding more violence in the mix, when our problem is violence in the first place).
Some of the above points merge with one another, but I've listed it out because I'd like us to consider each of those points worthy of discussion.

I am going to try to lay out some discussion guidelines, so please indulge me.

"Rape"
I specifically avoided the use of the word "rape" because that word elicits a lot of moralizing comments attached to stigma, shame, honour, etc. I'd like to request that we try not to do that in this thread. It's easy to go there. People go there all the time. Let's try something different, because this is debate mansion. I am a bit reluctant to start this conversation, but there are a number of thoughtful people here that I'd like to have this discussion with, so I'm giving it a try.

Respecting each other as fully subjective in this discussion
Why does a discussion on sexual violence or violence against women make some of us feel vulnerable? Because we are not just neutral debaters on the internet. We are real people, some might have experienced such violence or have had loved ones experience it. Or even if one hasn't experienced it, women are certainly at risk of experiencing it, and have to live their lives fearing it. So it is personal, and yes, it's emotional. Let's just try to respect that, rather than demand that everyone abandon their social position and enter the debate like cold robots.

I hope this doesn't become a polarizing debate, but rather a respectful discussion. I've shown my cards pretty clearly so far. Even in the examples I've shared above, it will be easy to tell what I think the solutions are and so on. It's clear that I don't believe that blaming women, castrating men, etc. are solutions. I've specifically tried not to create a "neutral" starting point because I think neutrality is impossible. We can try to be objective, but we can't be neutral.

Calling people (especially women) emotional, hysterical, etc. on an online discussion forum is all too common. Apart from the fact that it is sexist, it's quite cliched, so let's not do that. Let's also not ask people to "take a chill pill" etc. (equally condescending).

Facts, facts, facts
In this thread, let's be subjective, but let's also hold ourselves to high standards. So when we share our opinions, let's not rely on simply anecdotal evidence (though some of that is okay, it can be worth sharing), but let's keep in mind that this is happening out there in the world to most women (again, it is a form of gender violence). For example, sexual violence isn't just experienced on the streets or on a dark bus in Delhi. It's experienced in a domestic context most of the time, which means the attacker is a husband, boyfriend, friend, family member, neighbour, co-worker and so on.

Also when we share our opinions, let's remember that sexual violence happens everywhere, in every corner of the world. If you want to talk about the Indian context or another country/region, that's fine though.

I believe we can discuss this topic with a lot of maturity and thoughtfulness and I look forward to it!


Edited by --arti-- - 09 March 2013 at 7:59am

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-Aarya-

Goldie

-Aarya-

Joined: 02 November 2010

Posts: 1610

Posted: 09 March 2013 at 7:49am | IP Logged
Reserve for comment...


Another point I would like to add to this discussion...

- what is the ratio of rape on women
- do men ever get raped

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moomin4455boreddamsel

--arti--

Goldie

--arti--

Kasturi, RKS Banner Contest Winner

Joined: 20 June 2008

Posts: 1670

Posted: 09 March 2013 at 7:58am | IP Logged
Do children and men get raped? Yes. Men get raped in prison all the time. Children are victims of sexual violence too.

But overwhelmingly, sexual violence is directed towards women and girls, so I think we should focus on that.

Women have to live their lives in fear that they may get raped. For some women, this has a lot of social and economic consequences (the stigma, being shunned or disowned and so on).

When jokes are made about rape, they are at the expense of women and our safety.

I could go on. But I think we can conclude that this phenomenon is much more directed women and girls - making it a form of gender violence. Maybe when we finish this discussion, someone will want to make a thread about how men are victims of rape, but that will have to wait. Thanks.

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moomin4455boreddamsel

-Aarya-

Goldie

-Aarya-

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Posted: 09 March 2013 at 1:11pm | IP Logged
Arti, I understand your points  but the topic is on a broader scale, do you want to focus  on one particular topic with in sexual violence, for example why female gender is more prone to sexual abuse...

Let me know your thoughts, before I jump the fence on this one ;)

boreddamsel

IF-Rockerz

boreddamsel

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Posts: 8282

Posted: 09 March 2013 at 7:44pm | IP Logged
Ok, when I started commenting.. I realized this is really broad. 
Does this also include .. say marital abuse too..? 
What do you mean by gender violence .. is it physical and mental?? 'coz mental abuse could be violent too! 


Edited by boreddamsel - 09 March 2013 at 9:16pm

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nishabeemoomin4455

nishabee

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nishabee

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Posted: 09 March 2013 at 9:27pm | IP Logged
Marital abuse should also be talked about because many people are not aware of the fact that women can go through numerous problems in a marriage which can isolate them from their own family members.


Edited by nishabee - 09 March 2013 at 9:28pm

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moomin4455

_Angie_

IF-Rockerz

_Angie_

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Posted: 10 March 2013 at 11:59pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by -Aarya-

Arti, I understand your points  but the topic is on a broader scale, do you want to focus  on one particular topic with in sexual violence, for example why female gender is more prone to sexual abuse...

Let me know your thoughts, before I jump the fence on this one ;)

Let me know if you need a shove LOL

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-Aarya-

_Angie_

IF-Rockerz

_Angie_

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Posted: 11 March 2013 at 12:26am | IP Logged

Quite a broad subject Aarti, encompassing many issues which could have been  a separate topic for debate by itself. However, we could address them as and when they arise during the course of discussion that would perhaps follow. Let me attempt to start with a brief expression regarding  some of the issues that you raised -  

 

1.     Its root causes as a form of gender violence (think deep here, maybe beyond "the clothes actresses wear these days" - some have suggested that we have a rape culture, for example)

The traditional mindset where females were considered as a secondary citizen, a property owned by the male relatives be it father, husband , brother or son.  Women's role was restricted to home keeping and child bearing and rearing. History is replete with examples of women from all class and creed subjected to subjugation in the name of family honour and culture. A beautiful or talented daughter / sister came in handy to be given in marriage to rival kings and forging strategic alliances, regardless of her own aspirations or preferences.  We see this practice even today amongst many business families.  With better education and opportunities women started asserting their rights to self expression and independence with a fair measure of success.  This is perceived as a threat  to traditional values. Change is always hard to accept and resistance gets offered in various ways.   Sometimes the resentment at one's own shortcomings is so much that men retaliate by taking course to violence against the other gender who is seen as a threat to their fragile self esteem. Poverty, alcohol and drug abuse , inefficient enforcement of  law further aggravate the situation. The rational thinking part of the brain stops exerting its inhibitory control over primitive impulses like rage, jealousy, lust and the person commits acts of violence. For some it is about domination, revenge (against the woman or her male relatives), or simply for sadistic pleasure  derived from agonizing and humiliating another person. For some it is not really a gender issue but about venting frustration on a soft target.


So root cause would be a combination of traditional mindset, changing role of women, low self esteem in an individual, inefficient maintenance of law  . A clear gap between the  aspirations of the present generation and the politicians in power ( and also those out of power) is striking! Their disparaging remarks that flew right and left during the mass protests in Delhi revealed how distanced they are from the people they govern.   


2. How it is often discussed or portrayed (e.g. by the Western or Indian media, by upper class/middle class/poor or working class women and men)

 

It usually spells sensational news for the media. We often get to see attempts to divert focus  by giving it a national ,class or caste angle to the crime. There is little if any constructive outcome. The recent case of Nirbhaya was an exception that galvanized a whole nation into action.



3. Cultural stigma against rape

 

The cultural stigma is quite significant especially in the Asian subcontinent and plays a major role in its perpetration . Due to the stigma attached it makes the victim and her family reluctant or hesitant to report the crime thus emboldening the rapists and other potential rapists. If every rapist was put behind bars the first time the number of repeat offenders would certainly be curtailed.

4. Self-defeating ways in which we talk about rape and other forms of violence against women (e.g. "it's the woman's fault")

 

Lots of examples – The more common  ones…

-          "Why did she have to go out alone or at this late hour  /to such a desolate / ill reputed area" …and so on.

-          "She invited it upon herself by dressing thus/behaving thus"

-          "Boys will be boys…men will be men…"

Some ridiculous ones came to light recently –

-          "why did she have to put up such a fight/she should have relaxed/she should have asked for mercy / called them bhaiya"  (sic)

-          "the marriage age should be brought down to prevent rapes"

5. Thoughtful, long-term strategies to end sexual violence (e.g. getting serious about rape - avoiding jokes about it and so on - as well as believing and providing support for women when they come forward to say they've been assaulted, redefining masculinity as being at all times respectful of women and their sexual choices and consent, and so on)

-          I second that. I fail to see the joke in something as violent as rape!  


6. How to deal with offenders as a society in a just and meaningful way (i.e. is transformative justice possible.. this really is a big question for me and I have no idea what the solution is. Or we are going to just indulge in collective anger and a tit for tat attitude, like calling for barbaric things like castration and so on, basically adding more violence in the mix, when our problem is violence in the first place).

 

Teach every human being to respect another individual. Not do anything unto others that you would not like to be done to you.

As for dealing with offenders-

Immediate action:  Improve conviction rate instead of increasing the conviction period. Immediate arrest and action every time the crime gets committed sends a strong message and acts as a deterrent. On the other hand punishment delayed emboldens the criminals.

Try reformation (where the convict appears repentant)  if possible.. but the punishment has to be carried out even for a juvenile! I fail to see what reformation can be carried out in someone who pleads not guilty in face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. If the crime was the result of some hormonal excesses medical castration could be considered especially in serial rapists. The downside is the person would need long term monitoring, expenses and logistics would need to be worked out. 

Next line of action could be - 

-          Improve policing, appoint more police for general public instead of the VIPS (many of whom anyway have a criminal background themselves)

-          On going education  and sensitization of the police force

-          Improve street lightings, public transport system, surveillance,

-          Increased accountability of people responsible for maintaining law

Long term :

-          gender sensitization from school level, extended to work places, public places, homes

-          Education and employment opportunities for girls

-          Inheritance and property rights,

-          Most important – girls should have the right to decision making!

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