This posting is never to offend the spirit of the protesters in Delhi and all those who are campaigning not only for a speedy justice to the victim, but also for a better tomorrow where women will be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. This is rather with regards to a poster that I happened to notice on the internet and the newspaper held by a protester with the message "Don't tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape".
I had no problem agreeing to the point made by the reporters / bloggers regarding the tendency of blaming the victim for the rape. But I found the message was overlooking some points that we need to seriously ponder upon.
There are two questions here.
- Who is at fault? Rapist or the 'modern' youth (male/female) who believes nobody should question the kind of costumes of his/her choice? (The word modern is in quotes, as it may represent a majority, but not all the youth of today)
- Can I do something to ensure the security of mine and my loved ones from a sexual assault?
1. Who is at fault? Rapist or the 'modern' youth who believes nobody should question one's choice of costumes
There are different types of people who end up becoming a rapist. For e.g.
- One who things he is above law, and no one will dare to question them. Even if they get booked, they use their influence and finally manage to get away.
- One who fears being caught, but is so overcome by lust that he things more of gratification than the consequences.
- One who have had sexual encounters before, and thinks that the victim may cooperate in the course of the attack.
- One is tempted by the immodest dressing of the woman and thinks that the she is inviting a sexual encounter, and he uses force when she objects.
I see many women (and even men) getting men wrong. They think that men are typically very strong morally. When they find that they aren't, they brand those men as bad. Your brother, father, your most trusted male friend or colleague have generally something in common - they are by nature attracted to an attractive person of the opposite sex of visual appeal. It need not be lust. Whether it is lust or not depends upon the way he deals with this attraction. If the man responds with selfless love, and treats the person with respect, he wins over lust. It requires the grace of God to be pure at heart. But if one sees her as an object to be used, he gives in to lust. Jesus forbids lust in heart (and branded it as adultery already committed), but the advocates of "freedom" thinks that it doesn't matter what goes in your mind as long as you do not harm anyone. The 'modern' youth, who thinks he/she has the right to choose any attire when appearing in public, also feels that it is OK to wear revealing costumes and a flirting attitude, and that at the same time has the right to be protected by the civil authorities from any attack or sexual advances from a potential harasser/rapist.
What's the big deal? Can you not stop at harboring lust (I don't care if you do) and refrain from making any sexual advances?
Well, the truth is, one who has indulged in lust has already lost self control. Do not expect them to exercise any further self-control if they get an opportunity to harm you.
But how about the cases where the victim was dressed modestly, and fought valiantly against the assaulter? How can you accuse the victim in this case and sympathize with the rapist?
I think it is pretty clear that I am in no way defending the rapist. It is an irony that the rapist feeds his lust with pornography, dance bars, "intimate scenes" from new generation Bollywood & Indian movies (not to mention Hollywood that was 3 generations ahead of us in this) and from the careless ways some of the 'modern' youth dress up in public (I am sad to see such specimens during CHRISTIAN WEDDINGS here in Mumbai). Anyone who willingly allowed oneself, one's loved ones, or one's models or artists to be instrumental in feeding the lust of the onlookers in public is badly in need of repentance and healing from the merciful God. And then, the rapist may end up venting out their lust with an attack upon an innocent victim, who never in her life entertained lustful eyes.
Do you know that out of the active internet users (old, young, adolescents and all), majority have seen porn videos - many of them very frequently, and a few of them stumble into it once in a while accidentally or purposely. (See any statistics on the net, for e.g. this). Feeding lust with inappropriate content, live or through media has a huge impact on human behavior In India and in most countries, there are strict laws to curb Drug abuse and trafficking. But sadly, we legitimize lustful behavior by allowing inappropriate movies with A Certificates. Whether 18+ or below, consuming the depiction of sexually arousing images is not healthy. Media is all set to promote fashions that are not healthy. And our 'modern' youth is all after imitating their favorite celebrities in the name of freedom of choice.
To conclude, the rapist is clearly at fault. But equally at fault is a culture that encourages and entertains lust in any form. Hanging rapists in public can scare the potential rapists to some extent, but cannot correct their attitude towards women. What we need is a change in behavior and a healing of lust through selfless love.
2) Can I do something to ensure the security of mine and my loved ones from a sexual assault?
Immodest dressing clearly sends a wrong signal to others. There is no end to a debate to define what is immodest. I believe that we should properly cover our bodies. The dress should be long enough, loose enough. One can look beautiful without compromising modesty, and such people earn respect and love from others. They will have healthy friendships, and will meet genuine people who want to enter into a meaningful relationship with them. According to Pope John Paul II, the opposite of love is not always hatred, but many a times lust. And love is the antidote to lust. I fully agree to this from my experience.
This does not guarantee 100% safety as an individual. As mentioned before, an innocent person could be a victim. But at least one does not invite danger due to own mistake. I hope most of you can relate to what I have said, and especially women know better than me how to avoid attacks, such as avoiding to venture out alone in odd hours in unsafe places and so on. These hold good regardless of how one dresses up.
I keep the shoe-rack in the drawing room, and bank documents in cupboard. But if I have gold or money of substantial value, I keep most of my money in the Bank account, Gold in the Bank locker or at least in a Safe Locker at home in a safe room. I do carry with me valuable items like laptop and smartphone to public places, but I pay a lot of attention to guard them from a potential theft. I can't walk careless about my possessions and then lament with a board saying "Do not ask me where to keep my gold, but ask them not to steal" in the event of losing them. We should do our best to guard the gold, and then only expect police or authorities to help. At least for some time I cannot expect thieves to stop their job, though I would love to see their conversions. It's no longer the thief's problem, but mine. I have my vested interest to protect my assets.
Similarly, our safety is our concern, and not of the rapist. Rather than looking at modesty as a moral police's preaching, or male chauvinist's blame-game or trivialization of the issue, but rather as a safety measure; safety from a potential assaulter and also from causing anyone's fall that leads to risking eternal life.