Uttar Pradesh Water Resources, Forest and Environment Minister Upendra Tiwari has opined that rape of a minor is different from rape of a middle aged or married woman. According to India Today, Tiwari said, “Rape has its nature. If a minor is raped then we consider it a case of rape. But, if you come across an incident where a married woman aged 30-35 is raped, then the matter is different.” In times when we should be discussing the safety of girls and women in this country, and just why do they have to constantly be on guard every time they leave the house, Tiwari is busy classifying rape and which case should we take seriously and which we shouldn’t.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • UP minister Upendra Tiwari has opined that rape of married middle-aged women is “different” than rape if minors.
  • Instead of discussing why sexual safety is a rarity in our country, why is the minister classifying rape.
  • We must realise that every rape case and every victim is indicative of a bigger problem.
  • We must be addressing the prevalence of rape culture and how our threshold for outrage has gone up.

In times when we should be discussing the safety of girls and women in this country, and just why do they have to constantly be on guard every time they leave the house, Tiwari is busy classifying rape and which case should we take seriously and which we shouldn’t.  

The minister further added that there are some instances where people are in a relationship and if it fails then some women allege that they have been raped, and this matter is different from the rape of a minor then. Of course it is, and indeed false rape charges filed by jilted partners are indeed problematic. But does this mean that middle aged or married women do not face sexual violence at all? Is he trying to defend marital rape here? Or does he imply that we shouldn’t take the rape of a married or an adult woman seriously because there are worse things to worry about?

Someone needs to drill some sense in this minister that a rape is a rape, and that identity, gender, age or marital status of the victim doesn’t make the crime any less heinous. The sexual crimes committed against minor girls and all the incidents of brutality that we read about move us to our core. But it is a pity that it takes brutality and the fact the victim is a minor, to instigate some sympathy and cries for action from us. So, Tiwari is not alone in differentiating when it comes to rape. We have all begun to raise a cry on basis of the brutality of the crime. But every victim, every sexual assault decays our society equally. If we want to condemn Tiwari then we must first examine what our collective reaction would be to the said two separate scenarios.

Sexual crimes of all nature, against any  any kind of victim need to be seen as a part of the bigger problem that we face today- the rape culture. Women, girls and even men and boys are unsafe in this country.

What we choose to react on or take seriously reflects our stance. When a country is so used to hearing of sexual crimes, that we think less of a middle-aged or married woman being brutalised and sexually assaulted, it is telling of the times that we live in. Sexual crimes of all nature, against any kind of victim need to be seen as a part of the bigger problem that we face today- the rape culture. Women, girls and even men and boys are unsafe in this country. Some incidences get more coverage; some do not even make it to a police station. As our conversation focuses more on “who” the victim is, we continue to ignore who the perpetrator is and the mind-set which guards it. If we want people like Tiwari from making such appalling statements, then we need to steer the conversation in the right direction and stop seeing each incident of sexual assault in isolation.

Rape has no context, it has no “type”, nor does it have a hierarchy. The last thing we need is elected leaders spewing such nonsense and encouraging predators to continue with their misdeeds, as long as their crime doesn’t fall at the end of the spectrum of our morality. As for us the people, our outrage needs to be focused as much on rape mentality as much it is on brutality.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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