On Thursday 5th March 2015, The Independent online, publicized the banning of the documentary “India’s Daughter” by the Indian government, that the BBC aired the night before in the UK.
What sparked the controversy was the comment by Mukesh Singh, one of those convicted of the horrific rape and murder of the 23-year-old student, reportedly blaming the victim for all that had happened to her.
It was then reported in Malaysian daily, The Sun, on 6th March 2015, that the victim’s father thought the ban should be lifted to expose the remorseless mentality of such rapists. However, the victim’s mother, consented to the ban, saying, among other things, “…the only thing I know is that nobody is afraid…It is not only Mukesh who thinks like this.”(AFP)
From a few such stories that I have chanced to follow, especially those hitting the legal limelight, I gathered that the conviction and sentence received by these perpetrators was more for the heinous crime of murder rather than the equally heinous crime of violent rape which damages a victim physically and psychologically, even if it doesn’t result in her death. In the context of rape as a weapon of war, it is a crime against humanity, and a quite different matter.So, why does mainstream society treat violence done to women as something women should accept and live with, blaming themselves for the assault by men whose lusts are out of control? This is the long-standing view of a major part of male society, which suppresses and trivializes the crime of rape.
It all starts from the cradle – the stereotyping of male and female roles, the brainwashing that women can’t or are not allowed to do some things which are exclusively a man’s preserve, like taking up male dominated professions, how a girl should groom herself to be a respectable young lady, the dress code women should adopt, not seen as ‘provocative’ or ‘cheap’, and so many other ‘norms’ for the female child to adhere to, to avoid ‘trouble’ and deflect’ gossip. But, who sets these restrictions and conditions?
Most societies in the world are patriarchal. The norms of gender behavior are male dominated and set by men who have no understanding of the nature of women or their world. Men have no means of empathizing with women or their physiology, let alone their thought processes, emotions, and basic concerns. Male youth traditionally had to prove their manhood through physical challenge, usually, violent and dangerous. Even in this age, male aggression is pictured as something good in films, although this trend seems to be catching on with female ‘heroines’ portrayed as equally physically tough and aggressive. This gives the impression that, to be treated as equal partners, women have to take on ‘male macho’ characteristics. Why should this be?
As I see it, violence done to women arises from problems men face, mainly with the macho image they must portray and sustain. Society expects men to be the provider, the protector and ‘master’ of his clan. Women only play supporting roles and are often thought secondary players in society. They are expected to be passive, dependent and unable to defend themselves or their children. In reality, many women have shown mental, emotional and physical resilience in times of crisis. Women are also intuitive and have initiative and imagination to cope with all situations. Women are generally of a more caring, protective nature than men. Independence is also a woman’s trait, which may be either an asset or liability to her. At most times, it seems a liability, especially to her marriage prospects, as men like women who are dependent on them, easily controlled, and who are good followers not leaders. Women who value their independence have traditionally been avoided as prospective wives and are relegated to becoming ‘old maids’, albeit intelligent ‘old maids’. They are seen as too ‘choosy’, over intelligent for their own good, and unreliable as wives, as they have minds of their own. Men often seem to feel threatened by women who are more highly educated, hold higher rank or who adopt an independent outlook on life.
But, times are changing and men have to realize that the problem of violence against women lies with men, whose perceptions of women remain unrealistically grounded in an age when women were not allowed to realize their true potential as equal human beings with men. The violation of women’s human rights will only end when men honestly deal with their own physical problems, psychological misconceptions about women, and take responsibility for their actions. It is time men realized that women are partners, not subordinates to them and should be treated as such. That’s why Eve was taken from the rib of Adam, not from his head or his feet. She walks beside him, not behind or in front of him.