Now Reading
When Did Rape Become an Entitlement?

When Did Rape Become an Entitlement?

After watching India’s Daughter, a BBC documentary based on the Delhi gang rape of a 23-year-old woman, I am struggling to contain feelings of debilitating disappointment and bitter frustration. The gruesome details of this disgusting act perpetrated by at least five men and one juvenile have caused some women to retreat into their own shadows. Perhaps that is the safest manifestation of a woman: no tempting curves to entice the male gaze; just an obedient afterthought that literally follows a man’s every move without question. Shadows cannot talk back, nor do they pose resistance — an action which one of the rapists claimed a woman should never exhibit when being raped, as if rape is a certainty in a woman’s life.

While the gory details of Jyoti Singh’s gang rape incite feelings of painful hopelessness, we cannot surrender the fact that her story has illuminated the path for other women trapped in misogyny. Her parents discuss how “Jyoti” translates into “light” in English, and she brought light into their lives as well as others who crossed her path. Although the global community did not know Jyoti when she was brought into the world, we are all witnesses to the fact that she continues to bring light long after her departure. Jyoti has not only illuminated the horrific identities of her rapists, but her story also sheds light on the centuries of patriarchy and chauvinism manifested in the members of the gang that raped her.

Just listen to the sexist viewpoints of M.L. Sharma and A.K. Singh, the defense attorneys of the rapists, and it will be obvious why, as a result of severe sexual and physical violence, women are becoming comfortable with the idea of a male-free world. While Sharma states, “In Indian culture, there is no place for a woman…”, Singh echoes similar chauvinist sentiments by stating that he would set his own daughter on fire if she were taking part in premarital affairs.

The viewpoints of these two men are not at all a representation of South Asian men; instead, their perspective is the consequence of decades of  male-centered rhetoric which still exists as a strong undercurrent. As South Asian women, we are not shaming our culture or identity by protesting these hateful words, nor are we claiming that all men are like the rapists or their defense attorneys. Instead, we are making a collective effort to identify why it is detrimental to society as a whole when individuals like M.L Sharma and A.P. Singh hold such a demeaning opinion of women and advocate that women should accept this disrespectful perspective.

Jyoti’s gang rape was so vicious that her entrails were stripped from her body and discarded like trash. These men justified violating her body turn by turn, and yet people still cannot get past the fact that it is these men who deserve the shame, not the women demanding respect for Jyoti and others like her. Until a country like India can own its sinners as much as its saints, female bodies will continue to be desecrated in the public and private sphere, by uneducated and educated people who surrender to the misogynistic culture. Instead of using her story to set a precedent, the Indian government decided to ban any showings of India’s Daughter. It is regressions like these and an unwillingness to raise awareness about the frightening number of rapes that leads to a division between male and female members of a community. This fact is not just true for the daughters of India, but for daughters of the world.

There is a group of women who have suffered so badly from the actions of men within their community that they formed a village exclusive to women. What is troubling, though, is that many people attribute the success of this women-only collective to the absence of men — not to the presence of strong-willed women. It is true that the Umoja women’s village in Kenya was born from the reality of physical violence and sexual assault against women. Nevertheless, it has grown into a personified vision of the phrase, “enough is enough.” Enough women were silenced; enough aggressors went unpunished.

It is the bond of sisterhood among these women that has elevated their self-worth beyond a level their aggressors can reach. This foundation of principles to stand up and speak out against the evils that occur against not only  oneself, but also one’s fellow sister in womanhood, is what has made the Umoja village well built inside and out.

The solution is not to dream of a male-free world — that would be an injustice to the dutiful fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons who value our minds and contributions. The solution is to ask ourselves what we will and will not stand for. If one woman is willing to accept an abusive partner who spits obscenities and disregards any respect for her, then this conveys that her self-respect equals waste and should she should be treated as such. We want to be treated with respect but we do not respect ourselves enough to demand it from men who have a corrupt definition of “love.”

See Also

We want to pave a positive path for fellow young women, but we are not going to get there while one of us allows another human to speak to us with vulgar and abusive language while convincing ourselves that it’s not abuse until it becomes physical. When it does become physical, we try to reason that it’s not a problem until it happens more than once. Why do we have to convince others that verbal or emotional abuse is abuse nonetheless? In addition, if you are a female and are aware that your brother or son is abusing another woman, avoid making excuses in favor of him by shifting the blame on the victim. Essentially, it is time to shout a collective “enough” to those individuals who constantly take advantage of second chances and kind hearts, and to those who are complicit in allowing such behavior to be overlooked.

If we want to be closer to living in a world where women are not exploited, we have to assert that kindness does not equal weakness. We must redefine our self-worth. Our experience is more meaningful than the few individuals who view female bodies as only a gateway to fulfilling their own desires. We must be invested in our cause enough to reject the ideas that women do not have a place in a certain cultures, or that we belong in the shadows. Using Jyoti’s strength as an inspiration, we can unite on the premise that we are all entitled to opportunities and meaningful experiences as daughters of this world, no matter where we reside.

Photo by Barbara A. White

View Comments (5)
  • There are probably more white knights in India than the rest of the world combined. These people don’t believe in justice or a fair trial, they recently stormed jails and brutally murdered alleged rapists, while the guards stood by and did nothing. These men were then very proud of what they did, which was murder.

    And still the batshit insane feminist propaganda is that women are being abused and shamed and are silent victims. While babbling incoherently tirelessly at all times.

    Feminism is a sick joke. A non-stop victimhood entitlement complex whining to push endless misandrist laws and to paint men as rapists and criminals to justify further oppressing males while extending endless special privileges to women.

    And feminists can do it because men are stupid, emotional creatures. Too stupid to see transparent emotional arguments and logical fallacies, too weak to shut down the debates that completely lack substance, too retarded to even see what the feminist agenda is.

    • The men who murdered and raped Jyoti admitted their crime and provided the detailed account in the documentary, so no one is “painting” them as rapists and criminals – they own and confess that fact. If you are such a staunch opponent against female empowerment, why do you *choose* to read articles from a source *clearly* dedicated to raising awareness about gender inequality and issues affecting women? You criticize and devalue the experience of women who have been abused and are brave enough to break their silence, all while you speak hate from behind the comfort of your computer screen with an anonymous name. Your unfortunate perspective on gender equality is why a platform like Muslimgirl exists, so thank you.

      • So if guys like that did not exist, this website would not exist ? And horrific and horrible as this was, but seriously anything about innocent men that get hanged and falsely accused by a MOB ?

    • (1) Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I saw Abu Said and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Said said, “We went with Allah’s Apostle, in the Ghazwa of Barli Al-Mustaliq and we captured some of the ‘Arabs as captives, and the long separation from our wives was pressing us hard and we wanted to practice coitus interruptus. We asked Allah’s Apostle (whether it was permissible). He said, “It is better for you not to do so. No soul, (that which Allah has) destined to exist, up to the Day of Resurrection, but will definitely come, into existence.” (Book #46, Hadith #718)

      (2) Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I entered the Mosque and saw Abu Said Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus). Abu Said said, “We went out with Allah’s Apostle for the Ghazwa of Banu Al-Mustaliq and we received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So when we intended to do coitus interrupt us, we said, ‘How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah’s Apostle who is present among us?” We asked (him) about it and he said, ‘It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist.” (Book #59, Hadith #459)

      (3) Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: We got female captives in the war booty and we used to do coitus interruptus with them. So we asked Allah’s Apostle about it and he said, “Do you really do that?” repeating the question thrice, “There is no soul that is destined to exist but will come into existence, till the Day of Resurrection.” (Book #62, Hadith #137)

      (4) Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: That while he was sitting with the Prophet a man from the Ansar came and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! We get slave girls from the war captives and we love property; what do you think about coitus interruptus?” Allah’s Apostle said, “Do you do that? It is better for you not to do it, for there is no soul which Allah has ordained to come into existence but will be created.” (Book #77, Hadith #600)

Leave a Reply

Scroll To Top