Have rapes become another avenue for the young and old wanton creatures that walk on earth to claim their purpose in life, a few moments of notoriety and the eventual redemption through legal punishment? Have the urban areas become the places where fallacious law enforcement is a norm that could facilitate these creatures to play out their fantasies? Has the act of rape moved from the zone of male chauvinistic aggressive power exertions to a zone where horrendous creatures with penises frivolously indulge in violating the hapless women irrespective of their age? Has the ideology of rape transformed into the ideology of purpose in life through aggressive sado-masochist pleasure seeking in our late capitalist world?
These questions have been haunting me since the day I heard the news of a migrant laborer from Bihar raping a five year old girl child and dumping her in a closed room next to her house in Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar area. When Nirbhaya was raped and when the nation’s conscience erupted in the virtual and real fields, when politicians and social activists, social scientists, feminists and economists debated the issue day in and day out in television and print media, like many I too believed that rape of Nirbhaya, like the rape of so many other women and young girls in this country and elsewhere was an incident that showed the male aggression on women’s body and mind. Today when I sit with blood dripping newspapers in hand and still refuse to believe that rape is not a chauvinistic ideological act, I tend to think about these rapes getting reported on a 24 x 7 basis in media as a new cult that the young and wanton male creatures have adopted to find meanings in their lives.
(Picture for representational purpose only)
The new economy brought in place by globalization has changed the urban localities. Till recently, these spaces were the hideouts of potential terrorists, as the parlance of Police goes. Now the internal terrorism has changed its countenance. The new terrorist has the face of a rapist. He comes from rural India and he is here in the city for making some money. He does not find a proper job, he does not find a good place to stay, he does not have friends to share his woes. Slowly he works through this urban maze as a rickshaw puller, as a daily laborer in a construction site or a small factory and so on. Nobody knows him. Not even his employers know him. He is an incognito in a large urban space. With nothing to anchor him in life, what he finds as his anchors are cheap pornographic novels, item number songs from Bollywood, cheap liquor or drugs and low grade movies in C-grade movie halls. In front of him he sees the vast difference between his life and the life of the urban middle and lower middle class. With no passport to these classes, he positions himself as an outsider who is there to either take revenge or to find some pleasure for himself. Slowly he loses the distinction between about his idea of revenge to one and all and his imagined pleasure principles.
He wakes up with the news of girls getting raped and the outrage of the people who are mentally and morally affected. He feels a secret pleasure of seeing both. Somehow he starts feeling a sort of empathy with the rapist who has ‘done’ it. He knows for sure that there is no place to run and hide. He knows well that even after committing crime and fleeing from the site, the longer hands of law would reach him. So for him in his purposeless life or in his life rendered purposeless by the urban realities, it becomes a hide and seek game with the law. He wants to wreck revenge upon the society and he wants to have his pleasure and these two ideas mutate into the idea of raping someone. Once that is done, age of the victim becomes immaterial for him. Then he turns into a man who has genetically inherited his superiority of having a penis; he reimagines his heroism by just being a male. Then he finds his prey and does his work. This does not mean that all the migrants are like that. But the migrant laborer with all these psychological pressures inflicted on to him by the disparity of social life becomes one.
(A anti-rape protester gets beaten up by Policeman)
Take the case of the brutal act committed by Manoj on to a five year old girl. Take the case of the sixty year old father-in-law who has been raping his daughter-in-law which ended up in her committing suicide. Look at the thirteen year old girl getting assaulted and then out of shame trying to commit suicide. Look at all those girls who have been raped in the urban underbelly. It all shows that the rapists are not driven by any personal revenge. They are all driven by revenge against the society and that revenge is mixed up with their own ideas of pleasure. An act of rape could be momentary but it takes a lot of planning from its perpetrator. He waits and plans. He stalks and finds out the routes of his victim. There are other hunters who just randomly hunt and they too have a method. And it is not always necessary that the planner ends of up getting his chosen victim. It could be anybody else in that context. It could be even an eighty year old woman sleeping outside her house. A twenty three year old migrant worker does not feel any prick of conscience to rape an old woman because for him the act of raping is just a physical manifestation of what he has been doing all the time to all the women in his vicinity. Or the victim could be even a cow!
Let us look at Manoj who has been caught from his native village in Bihar. He has confessed to the police and also he has said the actual criminal is a Pradeep who had prompted him to this crime through showing pornographic clippings and other offensive materials. He has even said that Pradeep was there at the room when he was violating the five year old. Here neither Manoj nor Praddep deserves any sympathy. But what we need to understand is that both of them were finding a purpose in their lives through drug induced hallucinations. They were finding a purpose in their lives taking the example of other rapists who in their eyes have achieved great feats. Also they are driven by the mundane philosophy that says that ‘sab log karta hai yaar’. They take the example of powerful people, politicians, film actors whom they admire and adore, committing crimes and they coming out successfully out of prisons. They find a purpose in life by thinking in those lines and they feel that by wrecking revenge on the society they could do justice to their own lives. They don’t find themselves capable enough to do anything other than attacking a woman who is generally defenseless. And of course they imagine that forced sexual intercourse would give them immense pleasure.
(Tandoor hun..gat khaale sayaa alcohol se....an item number from Bollywood hit Dabang 2- Demeaning women in the official way)
Rape has somehow, unfortunately gotten the status of a cult. If more and more people are raping women in this country then we need to sit up and think why it has become a viral thing. People say that there is nothing new in it because rape has been there in Indian society since ages. They cite myths and puranas as proof. But they are just washing their hands off from the larger responsibility as human beings. They endorse rape by saying that it is a normative affair. They say that it is reported too much these days that’s why people know about it. But report or no report, somehow young dispossessed and disadvantaged males have become the perpetrators of rape and other crimes. Our popular culture shows that migrating to big cities make the rural poor rich and powerful. But their dreams are shattered in reality once they migrate. They become villains in their own lives and our Bollywood staples also help them to imagine that even if do crimes if it is for the purpose of your life then you will be pardoned eventually either by wealth or by death.
I do not say that the urban middle class and lower middle class should hate the migrant poor in the cities. They are also human beings. But the increasing numbers in rape incidents and also the increasing number of the migrant poor as rapists should be addressed in a totally renewed context. It is not just about a local thug raping a village lass or someone raping someone’s wife just to prove that he is mightier than his opponent. It is a social disease rather than a patriarchal issue. Of course patriarchy is the fuel that gives them energy to push themselves into the act. But before they think themselves as powerful male there is a stage that they feel as absolutely useless sub human beings. We need to address the sub-human status of the urban migrant poor.
(Collage of Kid's stills)
I remember the 1995 film ‘Kids’ by Larry Clark. In this movie a group of teenagers move around New York city procuring drugs, liquor and so on and keep talking about sex. Finally they end up in doing orgy. And even they don’t keep themselves off from having sex with a girl who is affected by HIV and is known to everyone. The film ends up with the protagonist asking ‘Jesus Christ What Happened?’. After each rape the rapist must be asking this question to himself. He has done it for his purpose and pleasure. But what has he done finally? But the cultic status of being a rapist attracts him again to it. And we need to kill this cult at the earliest.