Tue, Mar 26, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Why young Indian men rationalize rape as something expected

By Gethin Chamberlain  /  The observer, BAGA, India

“Parents should stop the girls going out late at night,” Harmalkar said.

“They should not allow it. Parents should set them free to live their own life, but parents should be strict about late nights, then this kind of crime will not happen,” he added.

None of the men could understand why Jyoti Singh and her boyfriend had taken a bus in Delhi alone at night, the bus on which they were attacked.

“At nighttime no one goes in the bus, the seats are empty,” Salgaonkar said.

“You don’t go as a single boyfriend and girlfriend in a late bus at 8.30pm. At that time anything can happen, because no one is in the bus,” Avinash Harmalkar said.

As for men who assault women on crowded buses, which happens frequently, they do so because they have the safety of numbers, he said, and because they do not understand that what they are doing is wrong.

“They can’t have a girlfriend. If they had a girlfriend they wouldn’t act like this. In fact, if they had a sister they would not do this,” Salgaonkar said.

It was not the rape itself that provoked such anger, but the violence, he said.

“The boys who raped her also violated her with a steel rod. It was a violent act. If it was only sex, they would not have been so angry,” he said.

No one around the table had a simple solution, though Banaulikar said that the only way to stop rape was to keep young people busy and off the streets.

“In my job I am always busy,” he said. “I don’t have time to do these things. If you keep them busy, you can stop them. It is the jobless men who are doing these things.

“If they see others doing this stuff, they copy them, because they are away from their families. It is the same for the girls. In the daytime she is a good girl, but no one knows what she does at night, and she persuades her friends to do the same,” he said.

Parents should teach the difference between right and wrong, they said, and also schools.

However, it was also clear that the modernization of India was exacting a price, with a growing discrepancy between different groups over issues of morality.

“College life is different,” Avinash Harmalkar said.

“Anything can happen there. Girls and boys know everything about sex. The girls go from boy to boy. That is why girls are going bad,” he added.

“The girl has to tell the boy that after they get married they will have sex, but not before. However, then some girls flirt. If you have a nice car or a bike, then girls want to be with you,” Salgaonkar said.

“Some girls are doing things for money. They use the boy and then throw them away. So some boys are taking revenge,” Banaulikar added.

“These things are not going to stop. Sex is common. If someone wants to have sex, no one can stop them. And if you do not want to have sex, people will say you are not a man.” he said.

Last week, the lower house of parliament passed new rape laws, which include the death penalty for the most extreme cases and introduced punishments for stalking and assaulting women.

However, this all-male conversation by the sea in Goa ended on a note that did not offer much hope for the thousands of women campaigning on the streets and in the towns of India for an end to sexual violence.

“Nothing will be changed,” Avinash Harmalkar said. “Only if the world ends will anything change,” he added.

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