As many of you may recall, last year a surge of activism against sexual assault in India came to light after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi. The student, frequently referred to as “Nirbhaya” (meaning “fearless” in Hindi) died of her injuries. Protests in Delhi made way for stricter punishment for sex crimes.
In a recent meeting, Asha Mirje, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader in western Maharashtra state, answered questions about why the rape occurred. Mirje made startling comments like:
“Did Nirbhaya really have go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend?”
“Rapes take place also because of a woman’s clothes, her behavior and her presence at inappropriate places.”
Mirje further went on to warn women about being cautious of enticing assault onto themselves.
Let’s go ahead and cut the bullshit right now. First, the question “why does rape happen?” should have never been asked, to a politician no less. Rape occurs because of rapists. While that’s pretty straightforward, the complexities of it are too much for Mirje. The questions should have been
“What are the next steps to taking on India’s high rate of sex crimes?”
“How are police revising investigation procedures to better accommodate survivors?”
“Will there be consequences placed on those who obstruct investigations, such as the common dismissal of cases attributed to ‘fabricated events’?”
“What other legislation is in the works to help combat against sexual assault?”
Second, victim blaming is part of the problem. In rape culture around the world, survivors of assault are constantly scrutinized as if to find the cause for rape. Frequent comments are:
Well, maybe she was wearing something provocative.
She’s a tease.
If you’re going to drink that much, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get what’s coming.
She just has buyer’s regret.
He’s a sexual deviant, he probably liked it.
They’ve always been a slut.
She’s from the ghetto anyway, who cares?
Why would you walk alone at night, are you stupid?
She can’t just start and expect him to stop right in the middle!
You could have taken better precautions.
If you don’t see what’s wrong with these statements, you’ve probably made them before, about yourself or someone else.
It’s almost the same mentality of Nazi extremists who believed Jews brought the Holocaust onto themselves (and by mentality, I mean severe, inexcusable stupidity).
Rapists are the ones that cause rape. Here’s a pie chart if you don’t quite get it.
I honestly don’t understand why there’s so much blame put onto survivors. Before coming to college, I was frequently told to never walk alone at night, keep my pepper spray on hand, go to parties in groups, never accept a drink from someone, and the proverbial phrase “keep your wits about you.” Let me just say, that if I, like so many other women in this world, am taught how to be precautious about rape (despite all of these “precautions” not being even close to 100% effective), men should in turn be taught not to rape. It’s only fair.
Here’s another post for you.
DISCLAIMER: Please know that victim blaming happens in all cultures, societies, and countries around the world to every gender, sexual orientation, sex, race, religion, ethnicity, class, ability, and every other demographic you can think of. Men are victims of rape and there’s a startling amount of violence against trans-women of color. I wrote this with the intention of addressing the perverse amount of sexual violence against women, though anyone can be a survivor of rape. Second, I am not against safety measures people take. If you feel comfortable taking a self-defense class, buying a stun-gun, or keeping a buddy system with friends, this is perfectly fine and I strongly encourage it. I just want you to know that even if these precautions fail, no one is at fault except the assaulter. Third, while men are not the only ones who rape, the staggering amount of male offenders in sex crimes needs to be addressed.