Despite outrage over increased incidences of sexual violence, it is alarming how common rape jokes are in our society. There are many people who condemn the act, however, they see no harm in indulging in a joke or two. Recently, a video of actor Jim Sarabh has surfaced on social media, where he is seen cracking one such tasteless joke.
What is outrageous is how people around him, including actor Kangana Ranaut, can be seen laughing at his joke without any hesitation.
In our society, humour mostly comes at the cost of someone’s misery. We find it funny when comedians crack a joke on someone’s obesity or feminine features. We find it funny when a person slips off a banana peel. But are we so heartless, that we are okay to laugh at someone’s sexual victimisation?
There is no right context for such jokes Jim
Following criticism, Sarabh has defended himself saying that his joke was taken out of the context. He further said, “Sexual violence is a serious issue and I treat it as such. It is unfortunate that my comments were taken out of context. I do not know nor have I ever condoned any form of sexual violence.” the Firstpost reported.
It would have been easier to believe Sarabh, had one not seen the video.
Sarabh claims that he was enacting parts of a play, which is “a dark satire”, when this video was taken without his consent. Satire or not, the fact remains that Jim thought it was alright to say that being raped by prostitutes is better than getting drunk. There is a wide misconception that unless a rape joke is about women, it is not offensive. Besides, most people in India still live in denial that men can also be victims of sexual violence.
Any joke which demands that rape be seen light-heartedly is not okay.
Rape survivors bear lifelong emotional and mental consequences of their brutalisation. Then there are those who fail to survive the crime. And people like Sarabh feel no hesitation in cracking jokes which dilute the seriousness of the crime. Instead of defending himself, Sarabh should apologise for his insensitive remarks.
Those who laugh at such jokes are equally at fault
Kangana Ranaut is one of the few people from Bollywood who came forward to condemn Salman Khan, when he equated shooting action scenes for the film Sultan to being raped. But Ranaut can be seen laughing at the Neerja actor’s joke without any hint of remorse. This goes on to show that even for the people who know how gruesome a crime rape is, a rape joke is just as harmless as a joke on potholes or receding hairlines.
What people who laugh unabashedly at such joke do not realise is that their trivialisation hurts the fight against sexual violence.
Both those who tell rape jokes, and those who laugh at them are equally at fault. And so are the people who “humour” these people with their heads hanging down. If you really believe that rape jokes are insensitive, then say that out loud. That is the only way people will realise that rape is one of those issues which can never be joked about.
Also Read: India’s Rape Epidemic: We Must Ask Who is India’s daughter?
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.