Wednesday, 16 January 2013
(Readers may find parts of my article objectionable or disturbing because of certain descriptions and adjectives used in the content. I apologise for the same in advance and deeply regret, in case knowingly or unknowingly I have hurt the sentiment of any of my readers!)
Today, a month would have passed ever since the gruesome gang-rape incident in Delhi, that shook up the sensibilities of young and old, male and female, across the entire length and breadth of the country. Young protesters took to the streets in unison in almost every other metropolitan seething with rage against the administration’s inactions while demanding fast track justice to similar such cases kept pending for a long time now. News editors went berserk filing media reports and working on the copies condemning the incident or taking a stand against the government and the administration or creating newer angles with statistical reportage. Our politicians, unfortunately, had to work overtime, thinking of innovative means of being a part of the media glare – even it had to be through negative publicity (and some dubious loose talks). The accused have all been taken into police custody with a lot of promptness and urgency like never before (thankfully, no political connection could be established with the rapists till now, thereby speeding up the process!). The charge sheets have been filed and the hearing has also been initiated. In the meantime, the victim has succumbed to her injuries leaving behind distraught and agonized parents, friends and relatives who have lost a brave, young woman, all of 23 years, training to become a paramedic.
What next? Have all the protests, the media stories and the incident as a whole, created enough moral values in men to condemn their own act and come out of their feudal and patriarchal mindsets? Can some heated debates on television news channels prompt potential rapists to voluntarily control their libidinous urge to satisfy their carnal, animalistic instincts of using a female body, as if considered quite low down in the food chain with men sitting right on top, for satiating pleasures driven by high testosterone gushes? The answers to all these queries, as you and me and all of us know quite obviously, are NO!
So, the next question that may arise in our minds is – who are these rapists and how do they become one? Ha! If only we would have known who these rapists were, then I am sure all of them would have been bundled out in the Indian prisons by now, waiting to get themselves chemically castrated, without me posing to be the me-know-all intellectual! Shocking, it may sound, but every man is a potential rapist! For the sake of clarity on what I said, I repeat, every man, even me included, is a potential rapist. Why I say this is because, a rapist cannot be identified by the dress he wears, the language he speaks, the education he had or even the company he keeps. Rape is a result of an uncontrolled sexual urge, an animalistic instinct, which is enacted under the influence of certain stimulations – in the form of mental processes, external substances, suppressed emotions – on a woman, considered inferior, weak or submissive, by the oppressor at the time of the act. Psychologists have concluded that the sexual drive is so intense that it overpowers every other cognitive or mental operations, releasing a lot of suppressed emotions, bringing about a change in behavioral pattern of an individual, even changing the way the brain reacts (through advanced brain mapping technology) to such situations by making the accused self-justify that there is no wrong in his act. So, if a sexual drive can actually bring about a complete lockdown to other physical and mental operations of the mind and the body, then how can one prevent someone from engaging into such acts? It’s simply impossible. And hence it becomes so unpredictable. But there is a different side to this story. When you have sex with your partner – your wife, fiancé, etc – you satiate the sexual needs of your mind and body. Rapists, on the contrary, be it a father, an uncle, a cousin, or any unknown person, would indulge in a sexual act not just to satiate the sexual need of the body, but to meet some more additional demands, as given below:
a) To give vent to a suppressed emotion – anger, envy, pride, feeling of neglect or any similar feeling related or unrelated to the victim
b) To prove one’s masculinity (by taking advantage of male domination in the society we live in) or to get acceptance or inclusion in the group one wishes to be a part of (under extreme peer pressure, where justification of every act, howsoever wrong it is, is always right)
c) To seek unconditional sexual pleasure from just another woman – which would not be fulfilled at home or at the brothel.
The act of rape or forceful (and unwarranted) violation of a woman’s privacy through any means causing adverse physical and/or mental agony to the victim can therefore be caused by any man, as per the aforementioned points. What needs to be understood here is that, a sexually obsessed person committing the crime, is not in a mental state of criticizing his own act at the time of the said act. He may however return to a state wherein he may feel that whatever he did was questionable and a criminal offence. Such behaviour is intensified further if the offender is under the influence of any substance abuse – drug or alcohol. It can therefore be concluded that a potentiality to rape a woman exists in every man in the society, although what separates a rapist from a person with clean conscience, is the extent to which the latter can suppress such negative drives by engaging themselves in other forms of mental or physical activities.
Personally, I feel that apart from drugs or alcohol, which intensifies the sexual drive of individuals (as mentioned above), there are some more factors, which have steadily contributed to the rise of sexual offences in the recent times:
a) Irresponsible Media (both news and entertainment) – it is an established fact that media plays a pivotal role in shaping the social fabric as it has the advantage of reaching out to maximum number of people across gender, age and social groups, with messages, information and content that can influence its target group. The very same media, when it becomes a source of cheap entertainment through graphic and pictorial presentations which may be categorized as pornographic, it does create a lot of negative impact in the mind of the audience consuming the same content. (Two of the leading English mainline newspapers of India publish a daily entertainment supplement which can be easily categorized as pornographic not because of the news or headlines which may be disturbing but the pictorial representation of female celebrities from India and abroad in the most uncompromising poses and attire befitting of a Playboy or Cosmopolitan). One should not forget that most of the consumers of such media content are teenagers, college students and young adults who lack the maturity to gauge the appropriateness or impact of such toxic content.
b) Rapid urbanization, Lifestyle and Work-life-balance – Over the past decade or so, India’s rapid economic growth has been contributed majorly by a robust service sector, which has helped India earn the epitaph of the “Outsourcing & Service capital of the world.” This has in turn opened up multiple opportunities for the Indian youth across urban and rural belts (as an additional reference, I want to point out the fact that apart from IT service, other service functions require less technical skills, training of which can be delivered through short to long term courses through regular and distance mode; this has made different job opportunities in service sectors more appealing to the youth brigade, bringing both the rural and urban youths to the same platform). Higher opportunities in service industry, which have flourished across the metropolitans have drawn in a lot of youngsters from district and sub-divisional regions as well, creating a higher population influx (politicians would love to term it as migrant population) in the cities. Add to this the incentive driven pay packages, leaving a lot of disposable income to these young men and women in service. Financial independence of these youngsters has given them an opportunity to channelize their disposable income to buy fashion and lifestyle products, leading to a growth in consumerism which ultimately also accounts for socio-economic divide (which has been widening recently). Other factors like stretched work hours, unsteady relationships, bad eating habits, poor work-life-balance, etc have also lead to depressive conditions in these youngsters, which remain suppressed in the subconscious, only giving vent in different self destructive forms (substance abuse, sex drives, etc being some outcomes of these depressive states).
c) Fragmented family life and disturbed childhood – Social structures in both urban and rural India have undergone a gradual change over the past 2-3 decades, peaking after the opening of the Indian economy in the early 90s. Ever since then, there has been a rise in the number of divorce, female feticide and social abuses affecting women in general and the children in particular. This has lead to a disturbed childhood for many kids. Although many of these kids have grown up to get well established in life, but a snapshot of their past is still stored in their subconscious. These suppressed emotions in such individuals may trigger certain unaccountable actions leading to sexual or physical abuse of people deemed weaker physically and socially.
A rapist in the city or in the village, in India or abroad, in a developing country or a developed world, would always stay a rapist in the eyes of the law. And all accused, as I have already mentioned, irrespective of their education, their profession, their color or creed, indulge in anything as heinous as rape, to give vent to some of their suppressed emotions, which would not be visible in our normal routine life. Guess it, your most cooperative colleague, a young and dynamic man of 26 can be a cause of threat for you, the same way your next door uncle-ji of 45 years! Don’t take me wrong, but rape as a crime against woman is equally terrorizing as a brain-dead individual carrying an AK-47 across his shoulder, pumping in rounds after rounds of bullets on to common people. Even in an advanced society like Europe and USA, with the availability of professional help in the form of counselors and psychiatrists, rape could not be completely abolished.
Many have even suggested making law enforcement more stringent and fast-tracked, but even with a stringent system in place, has this act been completely abolished out from the developed world? No it hasn’t been. Fast tracking of cases against rape-accused, making the law enforcers more accountable for any lapse in security cover on men, women and children alike (not just to secure the women from rapists, but ensuring the safety of the general populace), creating a fear of the strictest of punishment as a means to reduce such acts, etc are all fine, but rape cannot be completely abolished from the society. It was there 500 years back, even quite openly mentioned in different religious mythologies and it will stay for the rest of our lifetime. These closing statements of mine may make my readers feel shocked about the extent of pessimism I bear regarding this issue, but as a person with scientific bent of mind, I cannot paint a rosier picture of a society free of such immoral acts in future, simply because the science of the mind, would keep it going, even against the wish of the gods!! As parents and responsible citizens, we should try to create a better tomorrow for our kids, by inculcating gender sensitization programmes more transparently at home and at school, pressure our governments in enforcing equally stringent laws against people found using women-centric expletives in public, engage our kids in practicing meditation as a daily routine and finally stop all forms of discrimination against women in every walks of life.
Even if all men are potential rapists, it is they, who can bring about a change, not the women. So just don’t expect any change, be the change!