Madhumita Pandey as part of her doctoral thesis at the criminology department of Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom interviewed 100 convicted rapists in India. In the interviews, she spoke to them about the act itself – why they did what they did and if at all they held any remorse.

One case, in particular, a forty-nine-year-old man expressed remorse for raping a five-year-old girl. He said, “Yes, I feel bad, I ruined her life. Now she is no longer a virgin, no one would marry her.” Then he said, “I would accept her, I will marry her when I come out of jail.”

It almost feels like his remorse is not for his actions but for his perceived sense of shame that he has inflicted on the child.

This culture of impunity where men feel no sense of guilt real or otherwise apart from what they may have passed on to the women in particular, has created a sense of divide while reporting sexual harassment cases. Where the victim is often made to feel more guilty than the accused himself.

This culture of impunity where men feel no sense of guilt real or otherwise apart from what they may have passed on to the women in particular, has created a sense of divide while reporting sexual harassment cases.

The very roots of this behaviour can be found in our judicial system as well. As part of the settlement, women are many times asked to marry their rapists, because at the end of the day that is the only missing element of their life. Who will marry them?

The burden of shame.

Cut this to the #MeToo movement, with thousands of women raising their voices, sharing stories of horror where they were subjugated to sexual violence or harassment – the men at the receiving end of this have expressed shock and surprise. Often bordering on shrugging off these acts as mere “phases” or drunken stupor or even bouts of bad mental health.

Anything and everything has been offered as an excuse for their behaviour except of course that they were plain and simple wrong. In some cases, even criminal as per law.

Anything and everything has been offered as an excuse for their behaviour except of course that they were plain and simple wrong. In some cases, even criminal as per law.

Women, on the other hand, have been made to answer multiple questions around the act – why didn’t you react earlier? What were you wearing that day? Were you close to this person? Did you possibly lead him on?

Almost as if in the act of sexual harassment – the victim and accused are both same – the women. Hence it comes as no surprise that most women today do not share these stories, albeit they attract this perceived shame onto themselves.

Almost as if in the act of sexual harassment – the victim and accused are both same – the women.

And where a man with his distorted apology can find way back in the society, the laws of the world are not the same for women in this case. She is forever carrying the burden of the act where she was inherently nothing but a victim.

Richa Singh is a TEDx Speaker and the founder of BlogChatter. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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