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Friday, April 16, 2021

Misogyny or hate for women is in India’s DNA: 5 recent incidents prove it

Misogyny is deeply rooted in India’s collective psychology. A huge section of people still think “dented and painted women” who go to discos, have little connection with ground realities and thus make candlelight vigils fashionable after an incident of gang rape. This social menace runs across all sections of society, be it corporate top honchos or politicians or common people, misogyny is deep within India’s DNA. In this article, we shall highlight 5 recent incidents that took the level of misogyny in our country to a notch higher. These incidents raise an alarm and call for change in society.

Misogyny or hate for women is in India’s DNA: 5 recent incidents prove it

1. Hathras gang rape case in UP

According to NCRB data, a rape happens every 16 minutes, and on average, 87 rapes happen every day in India. The 19-year-old from Hathras was one such unfortunate person who had to succumb to it. Four upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras gang-raped and assaulted a 19-year-old Dalit girl. She succumbed to her death on September 29, 2020. Amidst claims by the Hathras SP Vikrant Vir that there was no sign of sexual assault of the girl, we woke up to the news of how the UP police rushed to burn her body at 2:30am on September 30. In the tweets below, we find how the UP police forced the parents to cremate the body of the victim. At one point, a cop is also heard saying “Aur aap log maaniye ki aap log se bhi galti hui hai” (You will also have to accept that you made a mistake too.) The statement clear projects misogyny and patriarchal mentality. This incident tops our list because here police play a crucial role in endorsing misogynistic acts and the heinous crime. Whenever any sensible person listens to this kind of news, he/she feels anxious and agitated, and rightly so, just like many of us. Incidences of rapes have increased by 7% since 2018. So, hanging the accused or having them killed in ‘encounters’ is clearly not a deterrent.

2. College student gunned down in Haryana

A man shot dead a 21-year-old woman just after she took an examination in a college in Haryana’s Ballabhgarh recently, and his accomplice have been arrested, according to reports. The main accused, who the police have said knew the victim, had tried to pull the woman inside his car in a possible bid to abduct her and then shot her. “My daughter went to appear for an examination at the college. The assailant tried to forcibly make her sit in his car but she refused. After a brief scuffle, he shot her,” the victim’s father said, according to news agency ANI. “We complained earlier also as these people used to trouble her and now they have killed my daughter,” he added.

“Nikita had come to college for an exam. Accused, Touseef, whom she knew, tried to speak to her and then shot her,” Jaiveer Rathi, Ballabhgarh’s additional commissioner of police (ACP), said. The woman, a final year student of BCom, was rushed to a hospital after the attack but succumbed to her injuries, police said. The daylight killing raised eyebrows after a video of the incident went viral wherein the victim was seen resisting the accused. Reportedly she was shot for reporting a case of harassment, refusing to convert her religion to marry the assailant and resisting his attempt to abduct her. Just two days ago a 16-year-old girl who was a student of class 12 in Uttar Pradesh was shot in the head by there men who barged inside her house. The reason that triggered the men to shoot her dead was the resistance that failed their attempts to harass her.

These incidents raise some very important questions in terms of women’s safety in India which is only degrading every year. Why a woman is being forced to pay a huge price of losing her life for resisting and fighting back against her harasser? Why do some men feel entitled and fearless to kill a woman if she rejects their attempts to harass her or their marriage proposals? What does it tell about the law and justice in our country? If a woman cannot file a complaint against her harasser without any fear, will any measure to uphold women’s safety ever reach an epoch?

3. UP CM giving death warning for inter-religion marriage!

Isn’t marriage a personal choice? And as per our constitution, there is no legal provision that talks against inter-religion marriages rather it encourages freedom of expression. But what are our ministers doing? Speaking to frame a law over love jihad to stop Hindu-Muslim marriage, and even giving death warning to those who back inter-religion marriage!

Referring to the Allahabad High Court’s remark that conversion “just for the purpose of marriage” was unacceptable, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Saturday said his government was working to bring a strict law to curb incidents of “love jihad”. Addressing a rally in Jaunpur for the upcoming bye-elections, Adityanath, whose government has been facing intense pressure over a string of rape incidents, said, “Allahabad High Court said religious conversion isn’t necessary for marriage. Govt will also work to curb ‘love-jihad’, we’ll make a law.” Issuing a warning against “love jihad”, Adityanath said, “I warn those who conceal identity and play with our sisters’ respect. If you don’t mend your ways your ‘Ram naam satya’ (chant associated with Hindu funerals) journey will begin.” Not only this statement unconstitutional, also, this issue shows nobody cares about a woman’s opinion about her own marriage, rather state rulers dictate her fate!

4. Bengali girls and their Black Magic, courtesy Rhea Chakraborty

Misogyny has long permeated our textbooks, our pedagogy and our parenting. In fact, it runs so deep that it reflects itself even in our linguistics. Another form of Indian misogyny got highlighted through the recent controversy about Bengali girl and actor Rhea Chakraborty in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. Rajput’s family lodged an FIR against Chakrabarty under various sections of the IPC, including abetment to suicide. Soon, people on social media began to accuse Chakraborty of performing ‘black magic’ on the actor, saying it may have driven Sushant to his death. While Chakraborty refused to comment since the matter is now sub-judice, Twitter has been flooded with stereotypical posts against Bengali women — because Rhea Chakraborty is a Bengali. Trolls labelled Bengali women as “gold-diggers”, “manipulative”, “dominating”, “bish kanya” (poisonous daughter), who “use their husbands for ATM”, who know “how to call ghosts” and “ruin” men’s careers.

Such vicious name-calling and blatant misogyny, however, don’t surprise me at all, given that demonising women is Indian patriarchy’s favourite pastime on social media. Sushant Singh Rajput’s death sheds light on how women are blamed and held guilty whenever a crisis befalls a man. The fact that Rhea Chakraborty has been already pronounced guilty on social media, even before the allegations against her are proven in a court of law, speaks volumes about how society loves to pin the blame on women.

None of us really know the real reason behind Rajput’s death. We will never know what he was going through before he took the drastic step. So why then are we jumping the gun? Earlier, too, tabloids blamed Rajput’s former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande for the end of their six-year relationship. Reports stated that Lokhande’s past experiences had made her insecure, which is what apparently led to the couple eventually calling it quits. Pinning the blame on women for anything that goes wrong is a routine practice in India. Remember how actor Anushka Sharma became the target of abusive online trolls every time her husband Virat Kohli did not have a good day on the cricket pitch. Even in Pakistan, tennis player Sania Mirza became the target of trolls after the country’s cricket team, which includes her husband Shoaib Malik, lost a match to India last year.

5. Politician says ‘all women are prostitutes”

The BJP, which was short of issues before the Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections in 2021, is getting some help with the Manusmriti flaring up in the state. In his speech delivered at a small online event titled ‘Periyar and Indian Politics’, Dalit leader and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief Thirumavalavan quoting from the Manusmriti said: “What does Sanatana Hindu Dharma say about women? Women are basically created by God as prostitutes. All women are prostitutes, as per Hindu dharma… Manu dharma.” The objection is to the use of the word “prostitute,” which many argue is an interpretation of the speaker from an ancient text, or possibly from one of the many published translations of Manusmriti. Soon, BJP leader Khushbu Sundar sought an apology from the leader. After A Ashwathaman, the state secretary of BJP legal cell filed a complaint, the Chennai city police booked Thirumavalavan under Sections 153, 153 (A)(1)(a), 295 A, 298, 505 (1)(b) and 505 (2) of the IPC.

No matter which party or political organization somebody belong to, this statement depicts clear misogyny and hate. In India, violence against women is mostly perpetrated by men. Should men not feel responsible then to prevent the occurrence of this crime? Shouldn’t men be disturbed that their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters constantly feel unsafe or feel they have to dress and behave in a particular way to avoid getting raped? Isn’t it time men educated other men about consent?

Secondly, women are as guilty as men for the mindset that breeds the crime. We kill our own infant daughters, we immolate our sons’ wives if they bear female children, we disapprove of women who make an effort to be attractive – and doubt their character. We still look at marriage as if it’s the purpose for which we were born. But misogyny is no longer misogyny when expressed by a woman. It’s self-loathing.

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