Let's talk about rape, Tharoor writes to netas

It is wrong to blame rape on the victims.

Oct 07, 2016 01:51 IST
Shashi Tharoor interim bail

As a part of a social campaign started by Hindustan Times on a discussion around rape, sexual assault in India, eight eminent writers are penning their thoughts for #LetsTalkAboutRape.


Shashi Tharoor, known for his perspicuous thoughts and insights, wrote a letter to his politicians. This is what he has to say:

My dear fellow political leaders and workers:

How do I, a man, write to you, mostly men, about rape? It’s not a subject we have talked about; indeed, had I attempted to raise it, you would have felt uncomfortable. We politicians talk about everything under the Sun, but not rape.


That has to change, if we want to make a difference.

He writes that many politicians are wrong when they claim that rape happens only in cities and not village. Giving a recent example of a Santhal woman who was raped by twelve men on the orders of a tribal court called salishi sabha. Her crime? She fell in love with a man from a different community. Acknowledging the problem is the first step towards creating a solution says Mr. Tharoor.

It is wrong to blame rape on the victims. Too many politicians point to the way women dress or behave for the violence inflicted upon them. Jeans and short skirts have each been blamed, as has “being out with a boy late at night”. Why do politicians place the onus on the girl to dress in a certain way rather than the boy to behave properly?


He adds that it is their job to create a society for women where they can go anywhere at any time without having to worry about their safety.

Commenting on the remark boys will remain boys, Mr. Tharoor writes "We politicians must also stop making excuses for rapists. It is wrong to suggest that “boys will be boys, they make mistakes” or that laws mandating the death penalty should be changed. The law should be supported -- and “boys” should be responsible citizens of our society, not just “boys”.

Rape is not an acceptable response to changing social mores. Rapes have been blamed by a sitting CM on men and women interacting freely, and by a former CM on the absence of child marriage. One criticised girls carrying mobile phones, since his mother never needed one. Phones do not make women more vulnerable, of course. And turning back the clock on progress never actually changes the time.


Patriarchy, having been an inbuilt evil of many things wrong in our society, reinforces a social norm that women are inferior, attaching a respect-depriving notion. The attitude towards rape victims needs to change, not just by the men but women also.

Dear netajis, what I am calling for in this letter is zero-tolerance for rape by politicians. If we set the example, the nation will follow. Let us honour Bharat Mata and truly ensure her “jai”.

Mr. Tharoor has pinned down the exact thoughts needed to eradicate the carelessness that is involved around talking about rape. An issue so severe can not be ignored by callous comments and statements by politicians and spokespersons who run the government.


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#rape #stereotypes #Shashi Tharoor #social norms #Urban India #Hindustan Times