I would like to write about an issue which is an evergreen in our society here in general and also on my blog: women in India. The reason to write about these problems today again is the statement of a government minister who recently said that the concept of rape within a marriage just didn’t exist in Indian culture. Isn’t that great?
Let me explain how we came to this ridiculous statement: a female Member of Parliament quoted the UN Population Fund which had found that 75% of married women in India get raped by their husbands. The MP asked the government what they were planning on doing about that.
The reply by a minister of the ruling party was that this was an idea which came from the west and didn’t exist in India. Something which is ‘not good for our country’! As in India, according to him, a marriage is a divine and auspicious connection and because of the religious beliefs and culture of India, this just doesn’t happen in India.
Are you shocked about such a statement? I tell you, we can hardly expect anything better from a pro-religion government that focuses on preserving ancient culture and traditions! Nevertheless, as an Indian, I just sit there and wonder about the lack of thought or even intelligence in such voiced statements!
According to our old religious culture, there is also no concept of divorce! Divorces started in India only when India got its freedom and our constitution was written. In the Hindu Code Bills, the provision for divorce and rights for women were made. Only from that time on, it was illegal to marry a second wife. There were big protests in that time, with the argument that it is not in Hindu culture to leave your husband because according to Hindu religion, a couple gets married for the next seven lives. Protesters said such laws would finish the auspicious religious culture.
I guess this minister also forgets that it once was a tradition in this great culture to burn the widow together with her husband once he died because she will be born again as his wife then. Rajaram Mohan Roy made a law to finish this tradition – but nevertheless there were people who carried on for a long time and believed it would destroy their culture if they didn’t!
In that time, Hindus were still allowed to have many wives and in temples, priests and religious leaders had religious prostitutes, called devdasi, to fulfill their sexual desires!
This all was once our culture. You can see the situation of our society, of this country’s traditions and of people’s beliefs in history! And throughout the history, Hindu religion considers women as second-grade citizens. They are only items, there for using and bearing children.
The UN can say that 75% of married women get raped and it should be considered a crime. Our nationalist, religious government however doesn’t agree because it is ‘against religion and culture’! Yes, in this country, men use rape to show women their place, to show that they are the ‘weaker gender’! And if any woman complains about being raped, it was her fault – she forced the man to rape her by wearing the wrong clothes or acting in the wrong way! If you are a bit more generous, rape is a ‘mistake of young boys’ – as our state’s chief minister’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav once said.
In traditional Indian culture, a woman is her husband’s property. He has all rights on his wife. Women get to know this early. A man won’t allow his daughter to look at unknown boys or talk with them. She is donated to a stranger on her wedding day and forced to sleep with someone she doesn’t know. Is forced arranged marriage anything less than rape?
But no, rape within marriage doesn’t happen in our country. The UN must be wrong. Every woman complaining must be wrong.