I suffer from a gender bias. And over the years I have realised the bias is tilted strongly in favour of the fairer sex, having convinced myself that nature has dealt them a raw deal. It is also because I do believe those of the female gender, especially in our country, are a lot discriminated against, ill treated, exploited sexually, commercially and for labour, molested and raped, and attempted to be eliminated be it at the pre-conception or pre-natal stage by female foeticide, after birth by infanticide, abandonment or malnutrition ? in a patriarchal male dominated society, by a people irrationally and unreasonably obsessed with a preference for sons.
I crusade against all this ? work for and advise on women’s safety issues, join the debate on discrimination on grounds of sex, and fight against domestic-violence; advocate and participate in workshops on gender sensitisation for target groups where it is deemed necessary; write and attempt to draw attention to and impose my thoughts on the reader social milieu through column space the editors condescend to provide me ? and engage myself, as currently, as a law enforcement consultant in the effort of the Union Health Ministry to combat female foeticide by discriminative sex selection aimed at eliminating the girl foetus/child.
Even so, there are times when I feel things are getting out of hand, that social thinking is getting a bit too warped, to warrant some limit, to draw the Laxman rekha at some point. Like when the Supreme Court tells us that a woman cannot rape a man!
Actually, I believe, in saying so the apex court has gone by the definition of statutory rape as codified in section 375 IPC, pointing out that a bare reading of it "makes the position clear that rape can be committed only by a man". This was in a case where the Madhya Pradesh High Court had earlier taken a view that though "a woman cannot commit rape", if she facilitated the act of rape then Explanation-I to section 376(2)(g) would come into operation to allow prosecution of the woman for "gang rape".
The court is right, of course! Only in so far as the legal definition is concerned. But without going into legal semantics and the letter of the law on the subject, it is the sweeping statement and blanket conclusion projected in the media consequent to the court’s decision that "a woman cannot commit rape" is what I object to.
To me rape in any form or by either gender is wrong. And that’s the bottom line. Rape is a disgusting crime no matter who commits it. And rape is the fault of the predator, the aggressor party, because it is not consensual but forced sex. Just as men do not own women, nor do women own men. It is about wanting to have sex or not wanting it ? so the same goes for women raping men.
The reason why women raping men isn’t a big issue is because most people cannot fathom a man being raped by a woman. Because we as a society do not see men as victims of sex crimes. A lot of people see this in their head as a ridiculous notion. For starters, a man is supposed to be stronger than a woman, so how can she overpower him? But consider, like in a case in South Africa, three women accosting a man at gunpoint to have sex with him! The most common view is that no man would deny sex, so how could a woman force him to have something he doesn’t want? What people forget is that rape is not about sex, it’s an act of violence ? the sex is just a sidebar to the crime.
May be even courts would view male rape as a joke. In the west where the concept of females raping men is not so incomprehensible as it is here in India, there have been twister situations ? when the attacker woman has got pregnant through her crime and initiative, and the courts have decreed that the victim man pay her child support. Similarly in situations of domestic abuse where the woman is the abuser, and not the other way around, the overwhelming bias tends to see this too as a joke, making victim men often the butt of derisive mirth, ridicule and insults. In a just society, just the fact that you are a man shouldn’t make the act of violence you suffered at the hands of a woman, any different.
Studies elsewhere on Female Sex Offenders ? from therapists, offices, college campuses etc ? and not police reports, have proved the amount of female sex offences occurring, most of which never reported. That it happens, it’s real and society better get a handle on female sex offending, and realize it occurs, before they are completely blind-sided ? and their loved one, son, friend or relative becomes a victim. Perhaps only then people will stop laughing and want something done about it in the legal system.
There appears indeed a deep-seated assumption that gender equity is synonymous with female disadvantage. In this context Cathy Young’s view in her book "Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Should Join Forces to Achieve True Equality", is pertinent. She describes women as a "class whose presumed interests are to be given priority and see equality as a matter of convenience; women are tough and aggressive as men when it comes to fighting wars or fires" ? as we would want to believe after the recent controversy over treatment of women in the Indian Army ? "but frail and helpless when it comes to domestic violence; as carnal as men when it comes to sexual freedom, but innocent and victimized in any sexual conflict. To some extent this has also been the party line in the mainstream media."
Author: Maxwell Pereira- India