Sometimes the women lead the men on, those around the table said. Sometimes men are frustrated that women who have earlier flirted with them then ignore their advances. This is not how they themselves behave, but this is what happens, they said.
“The Indian girls who come here, they don’t behave, maybe there are some boys and the rape happens,” Shretha said. “But sometimes they are not behaving sexy, not talking to the boys, and the boys are angrier and they think ‘I’ll rape.’”
“If they find them in a blind place, they are going to combine together with friends and they are going to rape them. If they [the women] talk nicely, they are OK. If they behave rudely, then they [the men] are going to be angry,” he said.
However, the idea that women are second-class citizens in India is out of date, they said. Everyone is equal now, with women going out to work and making money too.
“Before, for many years, girls were neglected, boys got opportunities. Girls did not get opportunities, but now it is equal. It is a new generation, no difference between girls and boys,” Shretha said.
The trouble is, they claimed, that this new assertiveness among women is causing confusion for the men.
“The main thing is the bank balance. Women are in love with the bank balance,” Gonzales said.
“And a nice shiny car. Then everything is OK,” Salgaonkar said.
“You should not blame the boys every time,” Banaulikar said.
“If you have four girls, sometimes one is a prostitute type,” Avinash Harmalkar said.
“The others don’t know their friend is a prostitute. It is common in college life,” he said.
“And what do you think of them then?” Salgaonkar asked. “You may think all four are prostitutes.”
Such attitudes are not unusual in India. After the Delhi rape prompted nationwide protests, Abhijit Mukherjee, the son of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, himself a member of parliament with the ruling Congress party, dismissed protesters as “dented and painted women.”
Religious guru Asaram Bapu also suggested that the victim was not blameless, asking: “Can one hand clap?”
Maybe if there were more prostitutes, there would be fewer problems for young women, the men said.
“It keeps men happy,” Gonzales said. “In Bombay, there are 20 places that I go sometimes, especially to fuck. There are hundreds of places there. In Goa there are no places like that. And when we see the goras [whites] being sexy and showing their bodies off, the Goan people react badly. And even Bombay girls now are coming here in bikinis. When you are drinking, you know, you are out of control.”
One answer, the men said, would be for the women’s families to be stricter with them, preventing them going out at night. That is the traditional Indian solution to keeping girls safe.
“In Indian culture, our generation has grown up with respect for families,” Gonzales said.
“That’s why we are scared of our parents. We behave as we are told to behave. Mum and Dad shout ‘do this, do that’ and we listen. But in the next generation everything has changed,” he said.