A phrase I’d never encountered until recently has caught my eye and mind. Rape culture. Reported to be of American feminist coinage in the 1970’s, it encapsulates the idea that rape and sexual violence is linked to the culture of a society and, to quote the Wikipedia, “in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape.” Wikipedia goes on to state that “Rape culture has been observed to correlate with other social factors and behaviors. Research identifies correlation between rape myths, victim blaming and trivialization of rape with increased incidence of racism, homophobia, ageism, classism, religious intolerance, and other forms of discrimination.”
Over the last two years an increasing number of reports have been coming out of India with regard to sexual attacks against women. Additional to the heinousness of the crime by itself, is the disturbing manner in which the crimes are conducted. A consistent recurring theme is the need to reduce the women to the most objective status possible, extreme physical tortures are inflicted, in some cases even death and most appallingly of all, this misogyny then reflected in the attitude of the authorities towards the victims, perpetrators and the crime itself. The phrase “rape culture” has been applied in Western editorials with regard to how India has been treating with the problem of a culture that holds the value of the male gender to be so endemically superior to that of a female that it seemingly condones such attacks, as evidenced by the manner in which reported assaults are treated by the local police authorities, village elders and even politicians.
I, like many others sitting on Western borders, took the reports at face value when the representation was made that women are being oppressed and victimized for their gender via these attacks. India was after all, the place where overwhelmingly, its variant culture paradigm promotes that women be taught not to get raped rather than teach that their men ought not rape. However, another reasoning behind the attacks is beginning to surface and it casts a completely differently light on the increasing spate of sexual violence being heralded in Eurocentric media. Caste is being fingered as a justification for the attacks. If this holds true then these rapes would not be the Westernized misinterpretation or distortion of a gender issue, a patriarchy gone to a mad extreme. They may well be the hallmark of an ethnic attack against a vulnerable section of the society...and while the assertion that India fosters the definition of a "rape culture" holds water, perhaps this too is simply a by-product of a much deeper problem. The statistics quoted in the article are quite disturbing and the numbers tell a different story to that of a mere gender attitude. It bears consideration.
See - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/05/opinion/indias-feudal-rapists.html?_r=0