WHAT IS WHY INDIAN MEN RAPE?
Why Indian Men Rape is a multimedia gender journalism and activism project that spans two books, a documentary and an active online presence, over several years. With it, my research team and I would like to thoroughly explore the gamut of unique ethnological reasons—social, cultural, traditional, legal, economic, geographic, religious, psychological, etc—that cause sexual violence in the subcontinent.
Fundamentally, we expect that a better understanding of the subject of sexual violence and rape in India will lead to solutions and catalyse vital societal change. Our endeavour is to revolutionise the gender dynamic and improve the lives of women in India, which will have a ripple effect throughout the world.
Sexual violence, or the threat of it, is the basis of patriarchy. It defines and determines gender roles, relations and dynamics. It’s what keeps women, their sexuality and their agency in check. Fear, and patriarchal morals of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ force well-intentioned parents to impose curfews and hemlines; and women spend an inordinate amount of time preoccupied with safety—within and outside their homes. On the whole, patriarchy and the fear of rape keep women of all strata away from fulfilling and adventurous lives, demanding careers, equality, and freedom.
It’s time to take onus away from the women, and place it squarely where it belongs… with the perpetrators and causes of gender violence. And in order to solve a problem—of toxic masculinity and sexual violence, in this case—it is important to understand it first.
WHY INDIAN MEN?
Not for a moment are we suggesting that all Indian men rape, or that only Indian men rape, or that Indian men rape more or less than others, or even that only men rape. But, some Indian men are, undoubtedly, perpetrators of sexual violence of varying degrees and contributors to the rape pandemic in the country. It is the motives of these men, and the ethnographic paradigms that allow them to thrive, that we are seeking to uncover.
There are many Indias: we use the term ‘Indian’ as a collective identity more than a specifically national one, while being cognisant of its non-monolithic and non-homogenous character. If one agrees that societal paradigms are different across the world, and that emotions and actions are culturally situated, it stands to reason, then, that ‘rape culture’, as it applies to India, is different from the way it applies elsewhere in the world. While referencing global knowledge of masculinity and rape, it is important to narrow the field and contextualise the subject in order to deeply investigate it in a nuanced and relevant way.
Sample these ‘reasons’ and ‘solutions’:
“The victim is as guilty as her rapists. She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop.”—Asaram Bapu, ‘spiritual’ leader and alleged rapist
“The rate of crimes against women depends on how completely dressed they are and how regularly they visit temples.”— Babulal Gaur, BJP leader
“Boys are boys, they make mistakes.”— Mulayam Singh Yadav, SP supremo
“Child marriage is a solution to rape and other atrocities against women.”—Om Prakash Chautala, former Haryana CM
“Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts.”
—Jitender Chhatar, a local leader from the infamous ‘khap panchayats’
We seek a critical analysis of the reasons as they apply to the Indian subcontinent—beyond the painfully absurd, like “chowmein”; beyond the blame of the woman and her clothes; and also beyond the staple “because they can”, “for sex” or “because, power”.
The project is initially intended to run from 2017 until 2019. The dream, of course, is to sustain the project beyond 2019, past the books and the documentary, into phase 2. Through forums, support groups and awareness programmes, we would like to have it remain as an enduring agent for social change and a leading light in the Indian sexual revolution.
My primary research methodology involves spending up to a week each, undercover, with 10 perpetrators across the country, in their home environments; interviewing and observing them, and their families and friends.
This is in addition to studying hundreds of textual sources like books, articles, studies, theories and historical records; and following several quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to understand and analyse Indian gender norms. I also have a long list of experts and survivors to interview, and case studies to peruse…. All this, before the phases of evaluation, synthesis and critical reflection, and even putting pen to paper!
This extensive research will contribute deep insights to the discourse on the sexual violence and rape in India—brought to the forefront since the infamous ‘Nirbhaya’ gang rape of 2012—as a step towards providing solutions to the problem.
OUR BLOG: PASS THE MIC
It started with the survivors.
When we started the project, we were astounded (or not!) by how many people were reaching out to us saying that gender violence had happened to them. And while we had only set out to study perpetrators, empowering and amplifying the voices of ‘victims’ on a safe and inclusive space fit into our macro agenda—to create a healthier, happier gender dynamic through affirmative action.
On Pass the Mic, we cover Survivor Stories, profile allies in United Against Sexual Violence, do a bit of ACTivism, and empower feminists with FEMdamental rights.
—Tara* & Sowmya Rajaram
To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.