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?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 4, 2013, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Yarely Loyola

    This blog is very heart breaking on how men try to show their dominance through rape . The fact that women are only viewers as a sexual object has made it only worse in a society .not only in India has this been occurring but also with the mexican cartels .men though “rape” have wanted to show domaince ,degrade women and also put fear in people . The reason why men do such a degrading thing like “rape” is to show their frustration with women getting out place from becoming a house wife to a bussiness women , men still yiern to be the home providers and are not accepting with change . They degrade women when rapping them because their purity or reputation will not be the same anymore . Purity is something valued in all women and when that is just snatched from their hands their reputation withers away , and that’s when like in India many girls have no choice but to marry their rappers because who else will want them know that the most valued and prized thing has been taken from her ?. Recently in Mexico women have been kidnapped and raped before they get killed but the interesting thing is that this kidnapping frenzy has started since the U.S factory’s have moved to Mexico and hired women because they are cheaper than men . Women are now being viewed as completion which might be another factor to the rape increase not only in places like India or Mexico but also in other countries around the world .at the end of the day rapist seek , desire and want one thing which in history has killed many , power .

  2. The initial post is all centered on India but I would like to widen the debate because I am concerned by some of the comments that reflect the natural reaction of people in our country: “this does not happen in America.” Children starve in Africa and women get raped in India…
    Rape is probably a woman’s worst nightmare but I don’t even think that what happened on that (private) bus in New Dehli fits the standard definition of rape as given by my computer dictionary: “the crime, committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them.” I don’t see anything sexual in that unthinkable crime. It was the most sadistic demonstration of human “bestiality” (the word is not well chosen because not a single animal would do that). It’s hard to get over the details of the torture that unfortunate woman endured but what struck me the most was the overwhelming condemnation by millions of people, men and women, of all ages and background, protesting in the streets long before it was even known that the victim had died.

    Would that happen here in America?
    The crime? Yes.
    The massive popular outrage? No.
    Do you remember this story, the 2009 Richmond High School gang rape of a 15 year old? There is an article on Wikipedia about it and it says “When the victim refused, she was placed on a nearby cement bench and continuously beaten and raped for 2 hours, at times with a ‘foreign object’ (…).” A witness admitted “I saw people, like, dehumanizing her.” “Witnesses are believed to have recorded video footage of the attack using camera-equipped mobile phones, but local police have not been able to obtain the recordings. At least two dozen bystanders watched the assault without calling 911 to report it.” Later she was, I quote again, “air-lifted to a hospital in critical condition…”
    “The attack garnered nationwide attention as the most popular blog topic of the week of October 26—30 as bloggers expressed their outrage over the rape.” There were candle light vigils strictly at the local level but nothing to do with the millions of protesters in India. Please read the full article at
    When it comes to blaming women, please read about what happened close from home in that 2011 article from the San Jose Mercury News “No defendants found liable in De Anza rape trial, no damages awarded.” The trial happened 4 years after the facts. What do you think of the comments of a juror “She came there kind of looking for it,” said one male juror, a 62-year-old software engineer”…?

    I certainly would not deny that the situation of women in India, especially in the rural areas, is still far from desirable but, over there, especially since the independence of the country, women are taking things into their own hands, literally. For proof, watch the trailer of the documentary “Pink Saris” and admire how these women get face to face with the abusers at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1721685/. Let’s stop comforting ourselves in those chauvinistic illusions. Remember, in India, they had their first female prime minister elected for 4 terms in 1966…What about us?

  3. Rape is Rape,how can that not have a severe punishment! woman should not have to worry about walking in broad daylight to get to their job or house or even a market. even if women cover up that wont make a differrence men are men and they want what women have. Stupid to know that women are being blamed for being raped,how is that their fault? all these rapes are having huge impacts on their lives, from being harrased constantly it causes sever mental and physical damage that leads to death. Men need to be punished otherwise they will keep doing what they please. Not being held accountable for keeps their spirit going. Punish THESE RAPISTS!

  4. Teresa Gonzalez

    India government definitely has to step in and take action against these rapists. Police officials need to take rape victims seriously. The men that raped this young woman need to pay for her death. The Indian government needs to re-evaluate their procedures and ensure all rape complaints are followed through. Women in India also need to feel comfortable to report these cases in order to prosecute these rapists. The government should give the highest punishment to these rapists in order to demonstrate to society that they are serious in prosecuting these criminals. Rape victims need to get appropriate counseling and assistance to cope with physical and mental trauma they have endured. Hopefully the government does not neglect the victims here.

  5. This is so heartbreaking….I am thankful that I live in a country where rape is not acceptable and crimes like these are punishable by law. I just dont understand why other countries look down on women. It should never be that way. Women give life… We all deserve respect, love and kindness no matter what gender or sex we are and should always give respect and kindness back to others. Im glad the protest was enourmous enough to make the law there stand up and take some kind of stand against these criminals…maybe this is a start of better things to come for these women.There has got to be something wrong in the brains of these men that comitted this brutal, violent crime. How can they live with themselves? I cant imagine someone doing this to my daughter, I would lose all sense of reality and probably go looking for each and every one of them. A mothers love for their children runs very deep..like no other love..at least in most of us. In my opinion, the only justice I see is the death penalty or a very hard labor prison for the remainder of their lives, as I dont feel that crimes of this nature are rehabilitative and I could probably guess that India does not have such programs in place anyway. These men are clearly a menace to society. Rape is NEVER ok no matter what.

  6. Thanks. Keep writing the truth.

  7. Reblogged this on Sara Osorio and commented:
    This is just too heart wrenching for me not to reblog. No one should be treated this way, no matter where they are, or their background, or choice of clothing. Animals treat other animals better than humans treat other humans sometimes and it needs to stop.

  8. These poor, poor women. This had made me so angry, ever since I heard about this last case.

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: