Monday, August 1, 2011

The Weaker Sex- Men or Women

"Young women nowadays dress so provocatively. What do they expect? Men get tempted, naturally."
 -Nighat Gandhi
Oh, the stuff one gets to view on Facebook. Browsing through my wall the other day, I happened to come across a certain photo on Abhinav Sisodia's wall.

Society teaches 'don't get raped' rather than 'don't rape.'

Stuff like that really gets you thinking, believe me. And, immediately I turn to Google for some stats. According to USA Today reporter Kevin Johnson, ‘no other major category of crime – not murder, assault or robbery – has generated more serious challenge of credibility of national crime statistics than rape.’ Of particular mention, here is Nighat Gandhi's article. It states, 'A woman gets raped every half an hour in India. Of the reported cases (only one out of 70), only 20 per cent are convicted. Consequently, only three out of 1,000 rapists ever get convicted.' Rape on men is not even reported for that matter. So that's that about the stats more or less. For more information on stats, please visit Wikepedia

I am not writing here on the How to's and What not to's of rape. This is purely my neutral discretion on the issue, with inputs from friends and random strangers I interviewed. The colorful pic I displayed here, stirred some thoughts in my mind that day. For long I brooded on refining and presenting them in an organized and documented form. Unfortunately, the longer I thought the deeper they went making them more complex until today when I sat in front of my desktop to write anything that comes to my mind on this. Yes. Random.

The first thing that occurred to me was, 'Ah! Of course. Society. What else could be responsible for this but a figment of the human mind's creation (which they call 'society').' Nevertheless, it struck me that society or not, that's what we've been taught- Stay Safe! When I think back, I always hear our elders cautioning us on not to roam about alone at nights lest the big bad wolf  eats us. But nobody told the big bad wolf to stay away from our good old neighborhood. Nobody told the big bad wolf to stay in his forest. Why is the big bad wolf allowed to roam freely on our streets and we, in spite of being the good little red-riding hoods don't have that freedom?

Extending this line on the issue; haven't we girls always been told to er... cover ourselves up for obvious reasons? Who hasn't been looked upon or rather who hasn't been 'checked out' on the streets? (no no. Don't LOL here) Men face the same problem, too. Lately, they are at more danger on this than women. No doubt, when caught, the one who leers is thrashed upon. But it seldom matters to them in the long run. They get beaten. They get pain. They heal. They return. Perhaps they feed on leering.

I was having a conversation on this topic amongst a group of friends. When asked, 'What actually triggers the act?', Riz said, 'Not keeping yourself safe is one factor. Not being strong physically is another one. I'll give you one example.  In Saudi Arabia, you must be aware that most of the sheikhs have homosexual tendencies. I used to stay at a 3-star hotel those days. There was a colleague of mine who was accommodated at a walkable distance from my hotel. He used to dine with me and walk back to his room every night. Once it got quite late. Around 1 am. We didn't keep track of time. He later told me what happened with him that night.'

My curiosity aroused, I asked, 'What was it?' Riz replied, 'My colleague met an elegant looking man that night who asked him something in Arabic. He didn't know Arabic so he ignored the man and kept walking. The Saudi ran in front of him, grabbed his hand to shake it. Courtesy sake, my friend shook hands too. But the Saudi didn't stop at shaking hands. He lingered his touch on my friend's palm, stroking it and smiling at him invitingly.' Riz paused here a little which wasn't wise for I had to know it all now. 'Then what happened?' I pressed. 'Well, my friend ran for his life! There wasn't anyone there to help him. He had to do it himself. Later, I started to accompany him to his room', I still wonder if any sheikh attacked Riz that way. I never asked him though.

I recollect an incident which I had encountered one night while I was returning home from my GPAT Coaching Center. That day our class was scheduled for a longer duration than normal. It was around 10 pm that I left for home. I travel alone by the way. Now, I happened to be walking from one bus stand to the other; the distance roughly being 700 m. Half way through two people on bikes came on either side of me offering me a "ride" to "where ever I wanted to go." I thought I was at fault for walking on a lonely road alone at night. As I understand the "hooking" business works at night; I ought to have taken a more public route. The point is, not being aware of the local surroundings can land one in trouble.

Soni*, a random girl I'd met once at a shopping store says, 'It isn't the man or the woman who's at fault. When an act of rape is done, one cant say for sure who the culprit is and who the victim is. Unless one attracts someone in a positive or negative way upon being approached, one can't get raped just like that (Gang rape being an exception). More often, I believe that the one getting raped is at fault for having not done enough to protect him/herself.' I gave a shrewd look to Soni and said, 'So, the point your making is 'It takes two palms to produce a sound while clapping.' 'Indeed', she answered. Nice, weird girl she was, stacking towels in her cart.

Rape is the most brutal of all the crimes. If you see the title, I haven't put it as a question. I state that it isn't the weak who get raped. Rather it is the weak who do it. It isn't just the body or flesh that's torn in the act. The damage is internal, not just literally but psychologically and emotionally as well. One feels the highest level of disgust with oneself when their privates are encroached. To overcome that and fight it is herculean a task for the poor soul.

I circulated a little questionnaire amongst people between the ages 18 to 60 years. 54% among them said, they were not intimidated by the presence of an extremely sexual person of the opposite sex in and around their lives. 83% said they wouldn't be comfortable if that person made an unexpected sexual advance towards them. While the stats hold no credibility as research, they provide a direction towards one of the ways to tackle the issue.

Evidently, power intimidates people. Now then, why not make your sexual assets your power? Why let them be a weakness? As I mentioned in a previous article, women are coming out and using their sexuality to get things done. And as I always say, ‘You are your own strength and your own weakness!

If all fails, you still have the chilly powder in your bag! *grins* And remember, if Little Red-Riding Hood could win against the Big Bad Wolf, so can we.

Stay safe!

*name changed on request