RAPE & SEXUAL VIOLENCE: By-products of Patriarchy & Capitalism

Rage agianst rapeThe unprecedented anger of the youth in Delhi and beyond against the gang rape and the death of a 23 year old para medical student on a private illegally operating bus service on 16th December was an expression of the seething discontent that has been building against the system for a long time. The 3 day protest that brought Central Delhi to a halt showed what the ‘power of the streets’ can achieve as opposed to the impotency of the so called ‘elected representatives’ and their so called “democratic” institutions.

The fear of the “power of the streets” that manifested in Delhi engulfing the entire country resulted in suppression of these protests. Contrast to the spontaneous empathy and demand for justice by young women and men, the administration was ham-handed in brutalizing the protests through vicious crackdown. Hooliganism and violence during the protest was instigated by reactionary forces and agent provocateurs that were hell bent on breaking the protest and malign it.

The callousness of the government and politicians was there for all to see. From patriarchal views on women in general to remarks such as labeling the protesters “dented and painted”{{1}}, “small incident”{{2}}, “Zinda Lash”{{3}} etc., reveals the gender bias and feudalistic values that are intrinsic amongst the so called “elected representatives”. The attitude of the government was probably best exemplified towards the end of PM Manmohan Singh’s drab speech{{4}} on the issue, when he blurted out “theek hai” (it’s ok?), an expression similar to much scorned Indian term “chalta hai” (anything goes) attitude.

rape delhiViolence Against Women

Nor is this an isolated case and rape is not the only form of violence endured by women. It is a fact that violence against women in India is particularly rampant amongst the marginalized communities such as Dalits, Adivasis, women in unorganized sectors, sexuality minorities, sex workers etc., for which conviction rate is abysmally low or non-existent, with the perpetrators largely roaming free.

Sexual violence affects women of all backgrounds and ethnicities. It is perpetuated by a minority of men of all backgrounds and identities. More so is the fact that most incidents of rape and sexual assaults go unreported given the feudal values that dictate and dominate Indian culture and society.

The map of India is dotted with crimes against women, starting with the Mathura rape case in 1972 when NCRB{{5}} started documenting and counting the rapes in the country. The infamous Gujarat riots where Muslim women were subjected to rape and torture, the Soni Sori Case in Chattishgarh and the AFSPA{{6}} atrocities against the people of the North East and Jammu & Kashmir hardly finds hardly any mention in the mainstream media owned by the big business. The custodial torture, rape and the sexual crimes committed by the state agencies is something that does not evoke much indignation.

The parody is that Rapists in uniform getting away with laurels and the petty bourgeoisie hailing them as them as “honest patriots”. To list a few, Ankit Garg the SP of Dantewada getting the President’s Police Medal is a reflection of the sad state in this country. It was indeed shocking to see that a police officer who was accused of brutalising and torturing the young Adivasi teacher, Soni Sori, was lauded by the State even after reports of perversity of the worst kind in the way he reportedly ordered the torture of Sori in police custody. And in Karnataka, Shankar Bidari notorious for his role in Special Task Force supposedly nabbing Forest Brigand Veerappan, was instrumental in the horrors against Dalith and Adivasi women in the Satya Mangalam forests resulting in 120 unwed mothers. In a scathing verdict, the court described Bidari as ‘worse than Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi’ for alleged atrocities committed by the Special Task Force led by him during the hunt to nab smuggler Veerappan.

Figures of Outrage

  • Rape is the biggest crime in India. 24206 rape cases.
  • Incidents of rape case have increased by 873% since 1971
  • Only 50% of rape cases are actually reported
  • A rape occurs every 20 minutes
  • A child is raped every 76 minutes
  • Conviction rates for rape cases has dipped from 41% in 1971 to 27% in 2010
  • More rapes were reported from Delhi (572) than from Mumbai (221), Kolkata (46), Chennai (76), Bangalore (97) and Hyderabad (59) put together. (NCRB)

 

Objectification & Commodification of Women

Rape is No Joke! Working class must fight sexist behaviour!

The violence against women is a product of a diseased system called capitalism where people are conditioned to see women as inferior and to see women’s bodies as commodities or objects meant for pleasure. Sexuality is distorted by pornography which is more and more accessible, and at younger ages; male and female sexual stereotypes are foisted on us from birth; and women’s bodies are objectified and used everywhere to ‘entertain’ and sell products.

Sexism aids the capitalist system. The family provides a base for the reproduction and bringing up of future workers and the servicing and care of current (and unemployed) workers and retired workers. This work which, in the home, is usually carried out unpaid by women (who may also work outside the home) saves capitalism millions of rupees, increasing the profits of a few.

Sexist jokes can actually normalise sexism, making cat-calling, sexual harassment of women and similar jokes somehow acceptable. It can also further perpetuates the bullying of women. How can a woman feel safe walking home at night if she fears that the men she passes laugh about raping women? A relentless, silent war against women is waged in various ways. From killing them in their mother’s womb to punishing women for giving birth to girls to persecuting women for challenging traditional male bastions.

Band aid solutions are not the Answer!

While the perpetrators of such crimes including the high and powerful must definitely be punished, but the solution does not lie in reverting back to medieval practices such as death penalty or castration. Nor does the solution lie in increasing surveillance by police which is not going to solve the problem. This will only end up arming the government with unprecedented powers and act without impunity against the working people. For so widespread a crime, band aid solutions are not the answer!

Under no circumstances can we absolve the capitalist system and the ruling classes from this malady, as they have thoroughly failed in developing and taking forward the society from the age old feudal and medieval values and practices.

This profiteering system based on exploitation of the 99% for the sake of the 1% is especially brutal on women who have not only to endure long working hours, low pay etc., but also sexual harassment by their male superiors/ colleagues. The exploitation does not end there, but continues in their households as mentioned above.

A campaign against rape in isolation from all other aspects of women’s oppression will not serve the purpose. It is vital to address the increasing problems facing women in all aspects of their lives. Rape, like domestic violence and sexual harassment, is a symptom of a deeply unequal class-based society that leads some men to think that they can control women, including sexually. This is reinforced by women’s material inequality and lower status in society. We must challenge sexism and through the process of struggle will see millions of people questioning the brutal, sexist and exploitative capitalist society in which we live and look for alternative beyond capitalism.

Build a Mass Movement To Fight Against Sexism, Casteism & Capitalism

As mentioned above, had it not been for the government crackdown, this movement would not have just stopped on the issue of rape or violence against women, but would have spread as a movement questioning the very nature of the system itself. But there are signs of the movement reviving with protests taking place everyday in all major cities across India. The brutality of the gang rape on the unfortunate victim is an expression of an extreme malady and has exposed a system that is rotten to the core.

The fact of the matter is people have just about had enough of this extremely corrupt, capitalist government of the Congress and are not willing to buy their arguments any-more. The fact that the youth and sections of the wage earning middle classes are on the streets and are so deeply enraged is a sign of the system unravelling. Whatever they do now, this government has lost all moral to govern and there is nothing they can do to undo it.

February General Strike should take up Safety and Equality for Women In India

The most important element in all this is the new assertion of the youth and the working people that are entering into the arena of struggle for the first time. The fact that the government is in crisis, youth and the middle classes are enraged, the working class is coming from its long hibernation through struggles like the Maruti Suzuki workers etc., but the missing element in all of this is the lack of an genuine socialist political alternative that can make all the difference in leading the struggle in the right direction and show the way forward.

We urge the Joint Trade Union Committee that has given the call for a Two Day General Strike in February to include the Safety and Women’s Equality in Indian Society as one of the Prime demands of struggle in the coming period, this will embolden the youth and can help forge an organic link between the Working Class and the other struggling sections especially the down trodden women

As we have mentioned in our previous articles{{7}}, the coming period would mark as a very interesting period politically for the Indian working class and represent an historic opportunity for the forces of genuine socialism to gain ground amongst the new layers of youth and the working class.

Join the New Socialists in the fight to build a genuine mass Socialist Alternative

The New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) demands:

  • An immediate action to be taken against perpetrators of violent crimes against women and adequate relief measures for victims of such crimes
  • An independent investigation into the response of the police and state administration to sexual violence, with involvement of the trade unions, women, student and other progressive organizations and action against those siding with the perpetrators of such crime.
  • No to Death Penalty! No to Castration! Yes to fast tract courts for rape & other forms of sexual violence
  • The working people cannot rely on the state authorities to do justice, hence Peoples’ Defence committees must be formed involving trade unions, community organisations, working people and other progressive organizations to make the streets safer for women and fight the menace of violence against women through a campaign against sexual violence, exploitation of women; debunking myths about rape and advocating women’s right over their bodies
  • No to private transport services. All buses and transportation services to be made wholly publicly owned under the democratic control of trade unions and the public.
  • End this capitalist system that continues to discriminate and oppress women. For a democratic, secular and socialist society based on real equality and putting the needs of the people before the profits of a few

The New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) believes that only a genuine mass Socialist Alternative based on grass-roots democracy is the only way forward in an increasingly outdated system based on class exploitation for the benefit of a few. And this task can only be achieved by the unity of all the working people, irrespective of religion, region, caste, gender, sexuality, language etc.

 

[[1]] by Abhijeet Mukherjee (MP), the son of the President Pranab Mukherjee [[1]]
[[2]] by Botsa Satyanarayana, Andhra Pradesh Congress Chief. He then went to outrageously moralize women with remarks such as “Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark. They should ensure that they do not board buses with few passengers,” [[2]]
[[3]] Sushma Swaraj, the BJP MP & Leader of Opposition described rape victims as living Zombies implying rape victims can never lead a normal life ever again and would be condemned as outcasts in society [[3]]
[[4]] which was not meant to be aired [[4]]
[[5]] National Crime Record Bureau [[5]]
[[6]] Armed Forces Special Powers Act [[6]]
[[7]] See: A Sham Democracy at Work! [[7]]

  • i with you all…

  • Satishgnec

    What about the countless millions of people killed in Soviet union and china. Atleast people in India can talk about it. People were not even allowed to talk in soviet union and china during the rein of socialism. Rape is not result of capitalism, it is the result of a criminal people. We should not fear freedom and freedom of speech. It is the thought of absence of them that we should fear about. Does the author wants to say that no socialist ever committed a crime against a human being.
     
     It is very interesting to know that socialists use tools innovated by capitalists(Internet and computers in this case, others include medicines, paper,automobile,cell phones) to expand their socialist propaganda and campaign against capitalism.
     
     
    It is the lies that need support of govt and evil institutions, the truth can stand on itself. Truth does not depend on anybody else.
     
    I’m thinking about starting a campaign to eliminate socialism from India . Any suggestions would be welcome.

    • @Satishgnec Without even an understanding of what is socialism, you jump on to the conclusion that Soviet Union & China was actually socialist! They may have been socialist in name, but in practice they were far from the ideals of what is socialism. Please refer to our material in the international section – http://www.socialistworld.net/view/25
       
      Secondly, capitalism & violence against women have nothing to do with each other? Wake up, my dear man, it is the atrocious conditions in this society that is responsible for the all round deprivation that we see around us today. To not connect this with capitalism, you are fooling yourself.
       
      Thirdly, about “no socialist ever committed a crime against a human being”, it is abstract way of putting things. But one thing we can say for certain, socialists have been in the forefront of struggles for betterment of society worldwide & it is these struggles that have been primarily responsible for the better living conditions in the western world like the welfare state & so on.
       
      And lastly, your ‘campaign to eliminate socialism from India’, first of all where is the ‘socialism’ in this country in the first place. Just b’cause the constitution says we are socialist country, it is capitalism fooling the people in the name of socialism & nothing more. And secondly, how do you plan to eliminate socialism/ socialists – exterminate us?!  Then you are no better than Stalin & Mao whose regimes you have accused of mass murders of millions of people.

    • @Satishgnec Hi anti-Socialist, honestly you have done a service by being critical about what we Socialists  stand in relation to Rape & Sexual violence against women in our societies.Firstly, I would like to answer your statement ” Rape is not result of capitalism, it is the result of a criminal people”. It is not a result of capitalism but it is  because of the failure of capitalism to lift the society from iits earlier feudal morass. Conditions determine consciousness, Capitalism has failed in eradicating the vestiges of feudalism and its abhorring attitudes towards women, it is the conditions that it has perpetuated that keeps and sees women objects for procreation and has further strengthened the feudal stratification of women. Its failure to eradicate the Patriarchy is resulting in the direct and indirect violence against women. 
      As my other friend/comrade @ananrk  has already tried to answer your misgivings about Socialism. You are absolutely right when you point out the horrors that went in the name of  socialism in the former Soviet Union and continues to happen in China. We do not in any way hold brief for these atrocities or condone it just because it has some reference to “SOCIALISM”. We characterise these states as Stalinist and bureaucratic deformations. But at the same time we hail and recognise the gains that these revolutions made in eradicating poverty, advancement of human talent and to a great length creating the conditions of establishing an egalitarian society.
       
      Like for the human body to remain healthy and to progress the supply of oxygen is essential,  for Socialism to sustain and be healthy it needs the oxygen of democracy which for peculiar and subjective reasons did disappear  in the Soviet Union. Having said I draw your kind attention to examine the period of Soviet History between 1917 to 1921, in which an extreme healthy grass roots democracy existed. What deviations and aberrations after that is a different long story for which you need to seriously engage in studying history with an open mind.
       
      Secondly you have accused us ” that socialists use tools innovated by capitalists (Internet and computers in this case, others include medicines, paper,automobile,cell phones) to expand their socialist propaganda and campaign against capitalism” Are you serious about this statement? Are you not aware of the factor of Human Labour and Intellect in the advancement of of tools and innovation that the present day modern science? Yes, CAPITAL does play a marginal role , but the crucial and indispensable role is played by the working class; men and women who create the wealth. (I presume you are one of those wage earners who belong to our class) It is the collective endeavor of our class that has created everything in this society.
       
      As regards your preaching sermon; “It is the lies that need support of govt and evil institutions, the truth can stand on itself. Truth does not depend on anybody else”, Lie & Truth are not something metaphysical as you try to make it out, they are very dialectical. By the way you have a very erroneous understanding of the Govt. and the Sysstem in this country, my friend @ananrk has tried to educate you on that.Finally, you have posed a veiled challenge to us the Socialists on starting a campaign to eliminate socialism from India ! We are not threatened because we are super heroes or invincible, we say this because you are not the first and we are damn sure you will not be the last also. As for suggestions, w would sincerely advice you to join the band wagon of CONGRESS, BJP and umpteen others who are in the same campaign which you want to launch afresh.
      Good luck to you

  • Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written will be referring a lot of friends about this.

  • JeyIyadurai

    The books say India was liberated by a Non-violent saint like human Mahathma Ghandi, ruled by his disciples like Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri, A feminist single mother Indra Gandhi and led by Sonia Gandhi, an Indianized Italian, but the Indian women
    are still far from gaining the benefits of that so called liberation, and from Sonia’s residential capital Delhi to any state capitals
    and the Holy cities, Gangas, Mandirs, mathrasas, temples, churches, not to mention the law enforcing bodies and those uniformed
    members still play a big part in violating women’s rights as India’s social-economic and judicial system is failing them big time.
     
    Further, the Indian women came to power  in central and state capitals and the females elected as MLAs, MPs, rubber stamp president and party leaders seem to be forgetting/ losing their female qualities in the heat of power grab and greed.
    Mother Indra or the Tamil cinema star turned politician Selvi Jeyalalitha or her ex enemy, a short term CM Janaki MGR  or their
    counterparts from other states did or doing the same in ignoring/ allowing the crimes being committed against women without
    Shame or Guilt.
    The pain is that, the Indian women become the worse enemies and violators of their own and serving the male dominated or
    devised systems of  cultures and religions, which rule the divisive nations of Indian union. Knowing all of these binding factors,
    the rebels with rational minds need to work in solidarity to educate, organize to rally, protest and fight all forms of oppression in
    breaking the barriers of religion and culture.
    It is our right to live as human, where no gender is superior.