Rape In Progress
"I remember the tears rolling down the sides of my face and the complete 'numbness' I felt.There wasn't any pain then.I 'removed' myself mentally from that bed,from that monster..I just wanted to die.I kept holding my breath,hoping I would just stop breathing,but I kept waking up.
He fell asleep at one point and I thought about getting up and trying to get away;that was when I realized I could not move.I was in so much pain and my head was pounding so hard that I was sure it would explode.I lay there shaking uncontrollably.I don't know whether it was from cold or from shock.Probably a little of both.
I looked to the window and could see it was just starting to get light out.Morning had come after all,taking the darkness away.The sun was coming up.I couldn't believe after the night of horror I have been through,the sun had the audacity to shine again."
The above words were those of a woman who was brutally raped by her husband.Whether we like to accept it or not,rape in relationships happen fairly commonly and it damages its victims.A woman is humiliated and degraded.There are cases where a woman has been stabbed;she has been held in a bath with an electric blow heater over her for 10 hours;she has been punched numerous times. The husband would just keep hitting her,or pulling her ears or her nose.And he would drag her around the house by her ear.And the whole time,the wife just wants her husband to love her more and just stop doing those kind of despicable things to her.Slowly,her sense of self erodes.
"So you stop fighting it,because you just can't keep up with it.You adapt to it.Eventually,what was once strange becomes normal.You eventually stop thinking of yourself as a person.Your feelings are of no consequence."
The victim becomes increasingly isolated through secrecy and shame.Her perpetrator tells her that it is her fault that he has to beat her.There is no one to contradict him.No one to validate her reality.
The ProblemOften,the victim never stops functioning or discharging her social responsibilities even in the face of such atrocity.As a result,no one on the outside has a clue.But inside,her self-hatred grows.It grows like a malignancy and it explodes until she loses a part of herself in the process.
Problem is,these crimes,their danger and the psychological devastation they wreak are largely minimized or ignored by our society.There are strong social beliefs about what is 'real rape' i.e the stranger in the alleyway.Together with these beliefs,other social and historical forces have worked to keep partner rape from being recognized and addressed,and to keep victims from seeking help and redress.
In Indian society,there are deeply entrenched beliefs that devalue women,and,directly or indirectly,condone violence towards them.In fact,unlike Western countries,the Indian Penal Code doesn't even regard rape of one's wife as a crime.Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), is echoing very archaic sentiments, when it mentions as its exception clause- “Sexual intercourse by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” The idea of making one's wife one sexual property has very strong ideological backing.Perhaps,it is still assumed by husbands and is a matter of general public opinion that,a woman trades sexual choice for a wedding garland,a ring or a change in one's surname.
Rape myths are a fundamental part of the way rape victims are viewed and treated by society.There are common and extremely pervasive ideas that women 'ask' to be raped because of what they wear and how they behave.Myths are a way to blame rape victims,and to take responsibility off their rapists.Rape myths are often based in ideas about female sexuality versus male sexuality.Women 'enjoy' being coerced or persuaded to engage in sexual intercourse.Therefore,men have the 'right' to overcome any reservations on the part of the woman by virtue of their persistence.
A parallel belief is that rape is a consequence of a male libido that is uncontrollable if aroused.The man is driven by his desperate need to orgasm once his penis has been aroused by the woman's attire,manner,placement at a certain time;messages-often unknown to her-that her dress and behavior supposedly send.
Also,another widespread notion is that if a woman has had sex with a man before,then the rape possibly couldn't have been so traumatic for her.
Social acceptance of rape myths is very dangerous because it means that society aligns itself with the rapist's point of view rather than that of the victim.As a result of this,the hapless victim of marital rape finds that the statement made by her partner in raping her,"You are my property and I can do with you what I wish", is endorsed by religion,the law,and perhaps even her family,who tell her in numerous ways that she was having sex with him anyway,thereby undermining the destructive significance of the rape itself.
As a result of the above mentioned factors,rape laws and their implementation haven't been that stringent so far.According to Rae Kaspiew,an Australian socio-legal researcher,"Rape law reflects a construction of sexuality which discounts women's subjectivity and privileges the male perspective."Women,who report cases of rape in our county,experience frustration and insensitivity in their contact with law enforcement agencies.I guess it is not so surprising.The judges,lawyers,and police are drawn from a society which continues to adhere to the rape myths outlined above.
Truth be told,any woman can be sexually assaulted by her husband.If you saw the 2007 film Provoked,starring Aishwarya Rai,you will know that talented and intelligent women like Kiranjit Ahluwalia,experience severe and prolonged domestic violence,including rape.Frankly speaking,it should hardly come as a surprise that,domestic and sexual violence span all classes,races,economic and educational levels,and have little to do with the personal characteristics of the women who experience them.
Why does a man rape
Interestingly,the reasons a rapist gives for raping a stranger or a partner are strangely similar.
|Power||It gives the rapist a certain sense of superiority that he can overcome a woman's protests and make her a tool to satisfy his desires|
|Anger/Retaliation||The rapist want to get even with the woman for somehow rejecting him or his advances|
|Insecurity/Sense of inadequacy||The self-assurance and relative strengths of a woman emphasize the rapist's own inherent insecurities and he resorts to rape as a means of 'restoring balance'|
|Sexually aroused by causing pain/fear||Some rapists report being 'turned on' by their victim's fear|
|Preference for coercive sex over consensual sex||Rapists get a satisfaction out of making women do what they don't want to do|
|Sense of entitlement||Rapists feel they have the right to have sex with a woman if they choose to|
It is important to realize however that,exploring the mindset of a rapist,shouldn't be used to offer excuses or justification for rape-there are none.
I wonder what it is like for a women,to be not able to tell anyone.To not know that you have been raped.Just like she doesn't know what she is going through is domestic violence.She would know that she was miserable,she would know it was unpleasant,but she would probably have no recourse but to think that this is what she was doomed to live with and she would be scared to say anything because of the repercussions.
Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband. The UN Population Fund states that more than 2/3rds of married women in India, aged between 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. In 2005, 6787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husbands’ families. 56% of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified.
I think it is safe to say that getting recognition for the experiences of a marital rape victim and accessing help and healing would have been much easier without the expectation that doing so would lead to more hurt.Just a few examples to clarify my point here:
- Women who don't have the awareness that the sexual assaults amount to rape will be re-assaulted time and again.
- If women are getting advice from people who subscribe to and endorse the myth that what is happening is not real rape,then it could have frightening implications for the victim.
- In a country like ours,scarcity in resources of understanding and compassion is hugely problematic.Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon PC Meena (in response to the gang rape of a 25-year-old pub-employee on the night of 11 March) exhorted women working at commercial enterprises, malls and bars in Gurgaon to stop staying at work after 8 pm.One cannot help but identify with the sense of anger and frustration that women must feel when their freedom of movement is curtailed in this fashion.It is not only an admission of utter incompetence,but is,in every sense of the term,unconstitutional.An indignant lawyer,Rebecca John,has this to say-"Our laws are watertight, but how can this help when the ground reality in a court room, or a police station for that matter, is no different from the mentality of a khap panchayat? I look at women who choose to testify against rapists with wonder all the time, simply because we all know that once they admit to having been raped, they will be violated repeatedly by the police, the lawyers and the media."
In our country,victims of sexual assault are often isolated and ignored.And this is doubly true for victims of marital rape and domestic violence.A strong negative stigma surrounds women who have been abused in relationships;the stigma that accompanies rape often means that survivors of marital rape face an ugly raw deal.Saying you were abused by anyone evokes ignorant inferences about your character,and if it is by your husband,society becomes even stingier with its cooperation and sympathy.It is hard to turn a blind eye to the fact that the sufferers have to cope with immense levels of insult and blame from family or friends or wider society,including the criminal justice system.
The need for change
Marriage does not thrive on sex.And it should not be used an excuse to subject wives to abusive traps, where they are denigrated to the status of a personal possession. While judicial awakening is very important, we primarily require generation of awareness regarding gender sensitivity. It is sad to belong to a gender which happens to be the perpetrators of these sort of crimes. ‘Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps to protect women’s human rights’, says the UN.
|We are raping her to this very day and there is NO divine intervention.|
And from down here,the consequences don't seem to justify staying put and doing nothing.
Six months back,when I was a fledgling blogger,I wrote this one poem.I think the current topic can be appropriately concluded with that poem.
Painfully,he digs his fingers into my arm
Fear seizes me,I know he'll cause me harm
His eyes are hellish,shining with cruel lust
I can feel tonight he'll turn my body to dust
Rudely like a beast,he throws me on the floor
My clothes,body and soul,he violently tore
Clawing and ripping away my tender parts,
He riddled my heart with poisonous darts.
He beats me up,terrorizing and horrifying me
Powerless before him,I helplessly fight to be free
He is using me and my body without permission
My shamed body hating itself for its submission
He leaves me,torn,dirty,corrupted and battered
I'll never be the same again,my life is shattered
He proved it,over my person I've no control
In insecurity, fear and stigma,my heart does roll.
We can all play a decisive role in bringing down her insecurity,her fear and stigma,people.It's time to change.
P.S.This post has been written for the Stayfree Time to change contest.Please do spare some time and visit their FB page here:http://facebook.com/sftimetochange.