“It is impossible to clap with one hand.”
“Girls should not go out unless they have work. But boys should work and study.”
“The way girls wear jeans and walk, boys get attracted when they see them.”
“This (rape) is a part of society – this will go on.”
These words, and the larger meaning they carry are by no means new. They have been heard before aplenty, in some form or another, whether from a politician or panchayat or from ‘well-meaning’ family members.
It is, perhaps, easier to outrage about rape culture and put it out of sight and out of mind when these things seem to come from strangers and appear to be one-off instances highlighted by the media.
A recent video by The Quint, however, shows just how pervasive rape culture is, and how early on it is ingrained into our minds.
The statements above are made not by old, conservative men alone. They are also made by women and school children. And that’s what makes them so disturbing.
The video story by Meghnad Bose and Asmita Nandy explores just how pervasive rape culture is in Haryana. They speak to people in a village where a 17-year-old girl was recently raped. They ask people about what they think causes rape and who is at fault.
The answers range from blaming the victim, blaming what they wear, who they speak to… but what is most disturbing about the video is many people’s complete denial of the fact that sexual assault happens without consent.
One woman, for instance, says, “This is not a case of rape. Both the boy and girl have done something wrong, but why is only the boy being punished? The girl stays at home but the boy is sent to jail. What sort of law is this? Even the girl is at fault.”
An elderly man opines similarly – he says that once a girl is 15-16 years of age, it’s not rape; the sexual assault happens with her consent.
Many also believe that it is impossible for someone to disregard a woman’s consent and that women are always in a position to retaliate – a policeman blatantly refuses to concede that a woman can be abducted without her ‘consent’. Another elderly man says that if he or anyone else would try to do something ‘wrong’ to her, she or someone else would decidedly hit him.
Some of the most alarming parts of the video are where the reporters speak with school children – both boys and girls – who believe that rape is a girl’s fault, including being friends with a boy.
The powerful story culminates into what these people, who represent a microcosm of what a majority of Indians, including those in power such as politicians, think – that rape must be consensual.
Watch it here: