The Politics Of Rape Culture

India has Eve Teasing, Bescharmi Moracha and Gang-rape Murders, but the politics of what to say and when Is the real shocking issue.

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Indian women protesting outside the barracks of the Assam Rifles, Indian Army, Manipur following the rape murder of Thangjam Manorama in 2004.

I’ve been sitting and watching the world for some time. Little surprises or shocks me. I’ve seen death and despair close up, I’ve seen politics played out, and people coming and going. But, the Politics of “Rape Culture” is just about the most shocking thing I have ever seen.

I’m a basic sort of guy. I like basics. I do basic. When I come across something I don’t understand or don’t know about, I ask questions. What is it? Where does it come from? So, when “Rape Culture” exploded on the net in 2011, I kept asking and kept getting treated like dirt. I was told I was an idiot and a Men’s Rights Activist. I ended up calling rape culture a modern day Shibboleth, it was so mystical. You either wrote about it the right way or you were evil.

I went looking for the truth, and it wasn’t hard to find. What has been political and beyond abusive is how in telling that truth so many have done everything possible to keep it all quiet and hidden. The history of African American men and women working together in ground breaking ways to stop rape, including prison rape. The Truth and history is there for any to see and read about. I’m not rehashing it, because each time I look at the subject I’m now sickened by the racism. It really has shown me just how deep seated racial issues are in the USA.

I’ve been amazed by how some are so determined to have the USA labelled as a “Rape Culture”, as if the USA is nothing but one large frat house and rape land. As I’ve read and worked across the subject, I have been fascinated to see decades of work of people in South Africa – women such as Cherryl Walker, Taboho Maitse and Zanele Muholi. The new language that has had to be created such as “Corrective Rape”.

In 1998 Taboho Maitse, after years of work and research said in shock that either she was wrong and did not understand South Africa, or it was a “Rape Culture”. There is a reason that Interpol and the international community call South Africa the rape capital of the world. It seems that ever since 1998 some folks in America have been pissed that the USA isn’t league table leader number 1 in Rape Culture, so they have been pushing US focus and suppressing the rest of the world.

I’ve been looking at all of Africa. Under the auspices of the International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda (1994) they even had to redefine rape in international law, because of how it was used to commit genocide. Even the Geneva Conventions had to be amended as a result.

Rape murder can be fast or slow. Call me old fashioned, but for some the fast death is the better option. When you live in a culture where to be raped means you loose all value as a human, you are as good as dead. That is what has been done in the name of genocide – wholesale rape leaving both male and female rape victims none people, unable to marry and have children. Genocide with mass graves is easy to media-ise. The long slow lingering death of a whole nation by rape is not that catchy and does not get the viewing figures. There have been so many places and events in the last 100 years – Rwanda, Congo, South Africa, Afghanistan, Pitcairn Island, Bosnia …

Some can’t get the idea of a culture, where being raped means you are as good as dead. They are so wrapped up in their own lives they just don’t realise that in other countries the world is very different. I saw a great quote on Twitter a few days ago under the banner of @SkepticAfrican:

Screenshot - 301212 - 11:33:48

For me that just sums up differences in views from two different extremes.

And now India is in the head lines – over 1 Billion people. India has a fascinating history of rape, and some equally fascinating people such as Upendra Baxi, Lotika Sarkar, Raghunath Kelkar and Vasudha Dhagamwar. In 1979 they caused consternation in the Indian Government and Supreme Court. They wrote a letter telling the Highest Court In the land they had gotten it all wrong in a rape case, and called for the whole case to be reheard all over again. Never been done before in India and the establishment was rocked. Mathura was the name of the victim, a name known all over India. In fact it’s a name known all over Asia when it comes to the issue of Sexual Assault, Rape and Law.

The four letter writers,  all Professors of Law, called out the Indian Government making it clear that the lack of legal protection for Indian women was abuse of Human Rights, Against the Indian Constitution, made Women second class citizens and it had to stop. That was over 30 years ago.

There are so many other cases too. The Bhateri rape case of Bhanwari Devi, 1992. Still waiting for her day in court 20 years later. Raped as a local women’s right health worker, for stopping a child marriage. The terms and ideas are so alien. Child Marriage? Do some have any idea what that is and why it may be wrong?

Upendra Baxi called rape in India a perfect crime, because all of the government and state systems worked to suppress evidence of events and incidents – making evidence vanish by simply ignoring it, so as to not shame the victims – or the accused.

In 2002 the Indian State of Gujurat exploded in ethnic and religious violence. There was ethnic cleansing, mass murder and rape. It seems that some had been reading about Rwnada and the genocide. The same tactics of warfare were used.

A voice of Indian Conscience spoke out again – Prof Upendra Baxi. He made it quite clear. The Governments of Both India and Gujurat had allowed and even facilitated the events in Gujurat, the deaths, the displaced people and the rape. He labelled India a Rape Culture, because the government had started to use rape as a method of Riot Control. It has taken 10 years but there have been arrests and trials of the guilty parties – mostly a few locals from Gujurat, with the real criminals still sitting in the Indian parliament.

The picture at the top of this page is beyond poignant. Some will look at see some oldish naked women with a sign that says “Indian Army Rape Us”. It shows what a group of Indian Women hand to do in 2004 to get The World to look. Under Indian law, the Army could quite literally rape and pillage against it’s own people. That’s what happened one night in July 2004 when Thangjam Manorama was raped and left dead.

The Law of India is at times almost comical. Rape was described as outraging the morals of a woman. Seeing a woman naked was to also outrage her Morals. The women protested naked outside the barracks of the Assam Rifle, in Manipur and demanded that the army arrest them. They demanded that the Army come and Outrage Their Morals – because to these women that was better than being raped and murdered. No-one knew what to do, how to react and how to stop the women, because to do so would criminalize any person who tried to stop them.

In India, running around naked in public is quite a taboo, so I admire those women for smashing down barriers. But still barriers remain. There is that lovely euphemism “Eve Teasing” which gets used so easily and so often. It really means sexual harassment and even assault. It’s not new either,  even Time magazine was covering it back in 1960 (September 12 Edition), so that makes it over 50 years and ongoing. Some have the idea it’s new Indian Hipster Lingo, but they are so badly informed.

In 2011 some complained that Indian women were stupid. There were folks who got pissed at a policeman and decided the best response was to march about in varying states of undress. They called it Slutwalk. People in India recognised that protesting for women’s rights was on the agenda, and they too organised marches and called them Besharmi Morcha – meaning to “Shamelessly Protest Up Front”. As Ms magazine said:

“..women aren’t marching for the right to walk down the street dressed in barely-there clothes, as critics suggest. They’re fighting for the right to walk down the street. Period.” *

But it didn’t matter. These Indian women who marched in jeans, T shirts and other provocative clothing under Indian Custom were called stupid, treated as silly women who did not get the great Slutwalk message. They failed to use fishnets, basques and suspenders to really drive the message home. One of the most revealing comments came from a supposed activist, who flew all the way to India to take part in events. They were upset that the Indian Women had not gotten with The Spirit of Slutwalk, and were diluting the brand.

I’m not even going to mention Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia and events there.

And now at the close of 2012, we have a case that just can’t be missed. The gang-rape and death of a women in Delhi. It was the 12th reported gang-rape of the year for just Delhi, but this one has a fascination due to it’s brutality and the victims protracted death. Raped 16 December and dies 13 days later. Protests and riots in the streets. International media coverage all channels, but a few stay silent and don’t mention it.

Jezebel got round to mentioning it on 28 December, but forgot to editorialize in the term Rape Culture. Feministe.us hasn’t even mentioned the story. There is this odd, amazing and protracted silence over the US Feminist Blog-sphere. Some miss the significance of silence. Others don’t.

I’m sorry, but the racism that keeps on being silently pushed front and centre around rape – rape culture – and so much more makes one thing clear to me. The Politics of Rape Culture. Certain groups and publications are only ever shouting and blasting when it serves their interests. They just keep on using rape and rape victims for their own ends. That Trivialises rape and rape victims – and believe it or not, such Trivialisation is what happens in a Rape Culture.

But this is where the racism really kicks in, because they only Trivialise Non-American rape and Non-American victims by Ignoring them – glossing over reality. Staying Silent for two weeks in the face of a global story really does clarify the focus some wish to maintain. Well, from where I’m sitting after 30+ years of dealing with human rights, sexual assault, victim support and taking no prisoners,  I say “Shame, Shame, Shame On You” for not speaking out and not calling it all what it is – rape culture.

So I will call it what it is – “Racism”. Please keep your racist ways and views to yourselves. They sicken good men – They Truly Sicken Me.

Picture Credit – Outlookonindia.com Link

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