“Shouldn’t Have Gone To Desolate Area.” Will Politicians Ever Blame Rapists For Rape?

Home Minister On Mysuru Gangrape
Home Minister on Mysuru gangrape: The alleged gangrape of a female student and assault of her male friend on Tuesday evening in Karnataka’s Mysuru has rattled the national conscience exposing – yet again – the rooted lapses when it comes to women’s safety.

Gender-based crime is unrelenting. Sexist mindsets aren’t changing. Laws are falling short of curbing rapes. Women have stopped feeling safe.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults, rapes and molestation are daily incidents. Many make it to newspapers, most go unreported. So commonplace have they become that India is dangerously close to becoming completely desensitised to these horrific crimes.

It is only when a shocker occurs in unfamiliar circumstances – as it happened in the Mysuru gangrape case, whose similarity to the 2012 Delhi gangrape can’t be missed – that we wake up to the lack of women’s safety in the country. And what really happens when we do?

We are faced with shameful statements by our leaders in power who don’t know better than to victim-shame. “It is a desolate area. They should not have gone there that late,” Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra was quoted telling media on the Mysuru gangrape case.

What’s more, he even went on to ‘joke’ about opposition Congress “raping” him for the gangrape in his state.

Home Minister On Mysuru Gangrape Case: Where We Fall Short On Women’s Safety

Unsurprisingly enough, Jnanendra’s remark isn’t an isolated blow to the cause of women’s safety and basic mobility rights. No. Several of his political peers from across the country have taken the (dis)honour of blaming rape survivors/victims.

Only last month, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant reacted to double minor gangrape and double minor assault cases in his state saying, “Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches.” A month before that, a women’s commission member in Uttar Pradesh somehow managed to interlink girls possessing mobile phones and how that leads to gender crimes.

This contorted and unjust view of serious crimes like rape people in decision-making seats in India hold is precisely what prevents them from acting effectively against it.

Will regulating the youth’s movement ensure rapes don’t happen? Baby girls, adult women, senior citizens – regardless of age and lifestyle, but solely by virtue of their gender, carry a lifelong risk to their lives. Because law and administration are enforcing discipline upon the wrong party – upon those who suffer and not those who perpetrate.

And that kind of myopia can only come from entrenched misogyny and patriarchal beliefs, which in turn contribute to India’s rape culture.

The gangrape in Mysuru has opened up some piercing, and oft-repeated, questions: Must a woman fear for her life every time she ventures beyond her doorstep? Should she step out forever with a male companion flanking her for protection and can that ever be a solution? Will women ever have safe access to public spaces? 

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

Image: Deccan Herald

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