There no dearth of lawmakers making irresponsible statements on the subject of rape. Last month, Bhupendra Singh, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister, cited access to porn as the “main cause” for rapes in the state and sought the Centre’s intervention to ban all porn sites.
Meanwhile, Surendra Singh, a BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh, placed the blame on parents and their inability to maintain a strict vigil on their children. He also advised parents not to give children mobile phones, if they wanted to prevent rape.
“The parents of youths are responsible for growing incidents of rape as they do not take care of their wards. Children up to 15 years of age should be kept under strict vigil. It is the duty of parents to take care of their wards. But they allow their wards to roam around freely. This is the main reason for the social evil,” he said.
Some semblance of sanity in the popular political discourse on rape came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he said sons have to be made more responsible for a safe environment for daughters.
“Families will have to enhance the honour and respect of daughters. Families should also make their sons more responsible. In this way, the safety of daughters would not be a difficult task. We have to launch a social movement in this direction,” Modi said.
Another element that annoys those who battle for women’s rights in this country is the patronising tone many take on the matter of rape. Those on the frontlines of this battle find the notion that “men need to protect women” highly patronising without really addressing the real problem.
“Women don’t need men to protect us. We need men to stop protecting each other,” says one Twitter user.
Deso Kemprai Barman, Northeast India’s ‘youngest’ YouTuber, who lives in Silchar, Assam, dropped a video a week before Prime Minister Modi’s statement, which addresses two critical issues—the idiocy of laying the blame of rape on anything else besides those perpetrating the act, and mansplaining.
Using a series of placards, Deso explains rape culture with a great deal of maturity and common-sense—all under one minute.
He begins by introducing himself and stating that he doesn’t “protect” his elder sister, but rather she protects him. Why? “(This is) Because she is older than me and, in our family, both men and women are treated equally,” Deso writes.
The 15-year-old talks about freedom, agency, responsibility and common sense. “We don’t need to protect our sisters; we need to STOP looking at other sister like she is a piece of meat,” he writes. Unlike our lawmakers, Deso understands that change begins with the self.
Deso concludes his one-minute clip with this statement: “Have you ever thought why MEN RAPE and why only MEN have to PROTECT women? The answer is within the question itself.”
There is hope in this world. #HeForHer
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)