Jyoti Singh, a 23 year-old student in India, was raped, had her intestines removed, and later dumped on the side of the road. After having beaten up her “protector” (a woman ‘needs’ to have a protector in India), a male friend, the 6 men on board proceeded to assault her as a punishment for being out with a friend “after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening”. Now, apart from the fact that the rapists are vile creatures, as well as their lawyers, it is important to examine exactly WHY this happened. Arresting (and hanging) the men involved only solves the issue in the short-term – they would not commit the act again – but it is essential that we go to the grass-roots level and examine the long-term factors, specifically three that I have outlined in the following paragraphs.
The first, and in my opinion, most significant cause is the culture and social norms that these men were surrounded with as they were growing up. The idea that “there’s no place for women” in Indian culture is an opinion shared amongst many men in India, not just one held by one of the rapists Mukesh Singh. These men have grown up thinking of women as second class citizens, as beings purely there to procreate and serve; an ideology that was present in Italy and Germany under Fascist dictators.
“Housework and homekeeping is for girls, not roaming…wearing wrong clothes” ~ Mukesh Singh, rapist.
From what I can gauge, these men grew up with the idea that all men are sexual creatures; according to the lawyer Manohar Sharma, a man always has “the sex in his eyes”. If you constantly surround a growing child with this mentality, then they will not only accept it, but will strive to meet the expectations made for them. According to jail psychiatrist Dr Sandeep Govil, “the main mental set up is, ‘It is our right. We are just in enjoyment mode’”. The lawyer of the rapists, a man supposedly working towards justice, says that women are more precious than a diamond and that, “if you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out.” Is he really saying that all men are like dogs? Yes, he is. And he is wrong. Man was built with the quality of self-restraint, whereas a dog was not. I would like to see his reaction if a man randomly started sniffing him on the street.
Men are also convinced that they are the “thorns” that are there to protect the women, who are seen as “flowers”. Although the notion that a man should do all they can to protect their female counterparts can be seen as positive, it creates this sense of ownership – that a man owns a woman, and therefore, can do anything he please with her. Now, if a man is there to protect a woman, why is it that the rapists, who are men, beat her so much that she “looked like a cow looks after giving birth to a calf”? Surely protection means you do all that you can to ‘preserve her flower-like qualities’?
The flawed objectification of women also plays a significant part in the cause of rape. As mentioned before, men in India are brought up thinking they are ‘animals’ who cannot, and perhaps, should not, control their inner desires; they were built to objectify and sexualise every female they come across. What better way is there to exacerbate that than to use the media? Why is it that in pretty much every film you watch, there is that one young, seductive character that symbolises ‘perfection’? Does a woman not have more of a role in society than to use their body in a manner that would attract men? Do they not have any qualities within themselves, such as intelligence? The answer is yes – they have a role in society. A very significant role. The victim of the aforementioned case, Jyoti Singh, slept for only 3-4 hours per night, in order to fund her education. The education that would allow her to practice medicine. To save lives.
“The world is like a commodity, and there is nothing in this world better than a righteous woman.” ~ Prophet Muhammad (SAW) [al Firdaws, v2, p230, no.3108]
In the 21st Century, wherever you go, media is present. According to Jake Heppner, the average American spends 9.1 years of their life watching TV. Going by the life expectancy of the USA, that’s almost 11.7% of a lifetime. Be it in the form of television, or a magazine – the media have a significant influence on our life, and the way we think. Therefore, constantly seeing their female counterparts objectified on television, being lured in by the half-nude woman on the front of a magazine, will make a man, gradually, change their view of the feminine roles in society.
But there just is not any opposition. On the 17th of December 2012, one day after the rape, India saw several protests happening in different states. However, they were suppressed – within 20 minutes, “it became a warzone”. The Nirbhaya documentary which helped spread awareness of not only Jyoti’s case, but rape in general, was banned by the Indian government. Now how are things going to change if the public services in India do not do anything about it? As MP and actress Kirron Kher stated, “We (India) need to have programmes in our schools” for people to learn and realise that “the right to their (women’s) bodies…is theirs. It cannot be abrogated to any else”. Why are the government not doing this? If the government, the leading power of a state, do not do anything, nor will the citizens. Nor will anyone from other countries.
Where do we go from here?
It is all well and good identifying the problems, but we need solutions. We need a cultural shift. We need to educate. We need to restore respect for women. The only way we can do this is by getting involved. One disappointing thing is seeing very few males campaigning against rape. “It only concerns women, so why does it matter to us?” Firstly, many men are victims too. Secondly, a woman who is raped is someone’s daughter, sister, and cousin. How would you like it if it happened to a relative of yours? And lastly, Imam Hussain (AS) has said, “It is not permissible for a believing eye to watch Allah being disobeyed and close without first changing the situation.” [Tanbih al-Khawatir, v2, p179]
Write. Protest. Change yourself. Do whatever you can to stop such things happening again.
Hum honge kamyab, ek din. We shall overcome, one day.