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Only Virgins Can Be Sexually Assaulted

Indians protesting the way rape survivors are treated.

Indians protesting the way rape survivors are treated.

Once upon a time in America only virgins or married women could be raped, people thought. In some places people still think so.

The problem comes from failing to see the world through the eyes of victims.

And so an article from the 1952-53 Yale Law Journal explained that sexual assault is illegal because,

Women’s power to withhold or grant sexual access is an important bargaining weapon… it fosters, and is in turn bolstered by, a masculine pride in the exclusive possession of the sexual object… whose value is enhanced by sole ownership.

Even though this is the crime women most fear, outside of murder.  Read the rest of this entry

Turning Indian Girls Into Boys

india_1931596cIndian parents are paying to have their daughters turned into sons through sex-change operations that cost about 145,000 rupees ($3,200). Up to 300 girls have been surgically turned into boys in one city.

The procedure involves fashioning a penis from the little girls’ female organs. Afterwards they are injected with male hormones, which they will need to take throughout their lives. The procedure will leave these children impotent and infertile in adulthood. No sons or daughters for them.

The Madhya Pradesh government is investigating.

Read the rest of this entry

What Do Rapists Want?

india_custom-1518355e348bea8a6d0c4118cfadfcef6d37eb4b-s6-c10You’ve likely heard about the 23-year-old woman and her male friend who watched “Life of Pi” at a Delhi theater and then caught a bus home.

The group of drunken men who waved them onto their private bus actually wanted a “joy ride” (???!!!) so they spent the trip beating the pair with an iron rod and gang raping the woman with that same tool. Afterward the two were thrown off the bus and left to die.

The woman survived but her intestines were destroyed. After three abdominal surgeries she suffered major brain injury, cardiac arrest, an infected abdomen and infected lungs. After fighting for two weeks to live, her body finally gave out and she died.

So that a few guys could have a little fun?

Six men have been arrested. And that may be the most surprising part of this story. Indian women are constantly harassed and raped and then blamed for the crimes. What were they wearing? What were they doing? Attacks are pooh-poohed.

Recently, an 18-year-old from another Indian province was kidnapped from a place of worship, drugged and repeatedly assaulted. The police had her describe the attack — in detail — several times, and then pressured her family to take money as compensation. Or, have her marry one of the rapists to make things right. The young woman continued to be threatened and stalked by the men who raped her until she finally committed suicide.

When Indian women aren’t being raped they are too often being sexually harassed on a regular basis.

Neha Kaul Mehra was only 7 years old when it started. A man began masturbating in front of her as she walked to dance class. She went on to face much more.

Sonia Faleiro says this sort of thing is pervasive:

I LIVED for 24 years in New Delhi, a city where sexual harassment is as regular as mealtime… As a teenager, I learned to protect myself. I never stood alone if I could help it, and I walked quickly, crossing my arms over my chest, refusing to make eye contact or smile. I cleaved through crowds shoulder-first, and avoided leaving the house after dark except in a private car…

The steady thrum of whistles, catcalls, hisses, sexual innuendos and open threats continued. Packs of men dawdled on the street… To make their demands clear, they would thrust their pelvises at female passers-by.

Sexual harassment and rape are increasing in India. Between 2006 and 2011 rape was up 25%. Last year only one attack resulted in a conviction.

What lies behind the assaults? Provocative clothing? Women asking for it?

Sonia tried covering up. It didn’t work. Surely the young woman on the bus hadn’t asked to be mutilated so badly that her intestines would need to be removed. Surely she did not ask to be thrown from a bus and left for dead.

Instead we must ask what these rapists are trying to do.

The rise in assault comes as women gain greater freedom and empowerment. Clearly, someone wants to stop them.

Rape lets women know who is free and who is not. Assault leaves them feeling disempowered, intimidated, in fear of men. Rape lets them know who’s boss.

It’s working. Many women limit themselves. Politicians tell them to stay inside and stop using cell phones. Brothers tell sisters the same thing. Some mean well. But the effect is to keep women penned in. And because the real problem is not clothing or being out at night the rapes continue, anyway.

Actually, all of this backfires because it keeps women in a secondary place. The root of the problem is that women are not respected as equals. In cultures where women are valued and respected you have lower levels of rape. And sometimes no rape, as with the egalitarian American Indians before contact with Europeans.

Instead of women hiding away and covering themselves, transform the culture.

On the one hand rape is increasing because women are gaining more rights and status, and some men want to prevent that. On the other hand, the only way to really make the rapes stop is for women’s rights to increase.

Here are a few things I would recommend to both increase women’s status and power and to decrease rape at the same time:

  • Stop taking the rapist’s point of view
  • Stop blaming victims
  • Stop believing that being raped is a worse crime than raping
  • Stop marrying women off to their rapists
  • Start prosecuting rape to hold rapists accountable
  • Start up rape hotlines to support women
  • Start educating the entire population in a way that creates empathy for rape victims

The core problem is a patriarchal culture that privileges men and that under-privileges women.

At long last a rape in Delhi has created such outrage that the people are rising up in protest to demand a more humane world. I hope for their success.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Mind of a Rapist: Trying to Bridge a Gap between a Small Self and a Big Man
Raping, Shaming Girls to Impress Guys
Yale Fraternity Chants “No Means Yes.” Men? Or Scaredy Cats?

Turning Indian Girls Into Boys

Indian parents are paying to have their daughters turned into sons through sex-change operations that cost about 145,000 rupees ($3,200). Up to 300 girls have been surgically turned into boys in one city.

The procedure involves fashioning a penis from the little girls’ female organs. Afterwards they are injected with male hormones, which they will need to take throughout their lives. The procedure will leave these children impotent and infertile in adulthood. No sons or daughters for them.

The Madhya Pradesh government is investigating.

By nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. But in India the rate is 112 males per 100 females. The country now has seven million more boys than girls under age six.

As it is, dowry is so expensive – perhaps as much as a car or a house – that families feel they cannot afford daughters. Surgery is cheaper.

None of this bodes well for Indian society. Men will not be able to have wives or  children. Sex trafficking will continue to rise, and women will be sold into marriage, turning the female of our species increasingly into property.

Such is the curse on cultures that so value males over females.

Unfortunately, education has not increased the value of women and girls. Ranjana Kumari, of the Centre for Social Research, and a fervent activist against sex-selective abortion, told The Telegraph:

The figures are getting worse. In 2001 there were 886 girls born to every 1,000 boys in Delhi. Today there are only 866. The more educated and rich you are, the more there is killing of girls.

In the U.S. conservative columnists have begun blaming abortion for skewed sex ratios.

Really? Without abortion, parents may still try the sex-change thing. Or they may abandon or kill daughters after they are born, or they may fail to give daughters food or medical attention, as they have done for centuries. Or they may still try to abort, as they currently do, despite its illegality in India.

The core problem isn’t abortion or ultrasound or sex-changes or neglecting, abandoning, or killing daughters.

The core problem is that males are valued over females, world-wide, to all of our detriment. As a New York Times reader named George put it:

If men do not appreciate and value women as they should, they will find themselves rendered similarly impotent and lost, the inheritors of their misguided social practices.

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