What is sexual morality

There is no doubt that crimes against women- rape, gang rape and murder, molestation- are on the increase. There is unusual emphasis on making very strong law to protect women. There is almost no awareness on the need to campaign for avoiding double standards on sexual morality. As a matter of fact, double standards on morality are root cause of agony and misery of women. Some women face atrocities of rape and molestation. Most women are in constant fear of this.

Chastity and Honor

When rape takes place, woman loses her chastity. A woman loses her chastity also when she voluntarily participates in sex act. But does a man lose nothing. He also loses his chastity or celibacy. But nobody bothers about male chastity. A woman is stigmatized unlike men. Sex- voluntary or forced- is basically a physical act. Rape is nothing but sexual assault. Men are also sometimes victims to unnatural sexual asault. But they never lose honor. This excessive emphasis on female chastity or virginity is the root casue of women's suffering. Female chastity is considered very significant- even more than her life and body. Once a man saved a drowning girl at Allahabad.  Girl's parents and others were angry with the youth for violating the chastity of the girl by touching her body. It did not matter to them that the girl was saved from drowning. The man satisfied them saying that the girl  he saved was just his sister and he would accept a Rakhi from her. Recently, a woman jumped from running train to protect her chastity by endangering her life.  

On the other hand, a man never loses 'honor'  There are many men who boast of their sex with other women. What is 'dishonor' to women is great achievement of men. Is this not a very amazing and ridiculous double standard.  Recently, some one remarked that western culture is responsible for the rapes.  For many, it is fashionable to attack western values and influence for every wrong. They talk of ill affect of western culture as if everything was right in ancient India when there was no western influence. Indra, god king raped Ahilya, wife of a sage. Indra was definiely not influenced by western culture. The divine dancer Meneka could disrupt meditation of Vishvamitra and also violate his celibacy or chastiy but not his 'honor'.  Prithviraj Chauhan kidnapped Sanyogita.  He could also not be influenced by western culture. The low caste women in rural India have been sexually exploited through the ages. Munshi Prem Chand referred to such exploitation in his Hindi novels. He wrote in a novel that the high caste observe untouchability in day but do not hesitate to sexually exploit the low caste women at night. The Indian princes, kulaks (zamindars or village landlords) are well known for their atrocities including sexual exploitation of women. One only needs to go through the books- 'Maharaja' and 'Maharani' by Deewan Jermani Das to get a glimpse of the way Indian princes sexually exploited women. The village zamindars and other landlords similarly sexually exploited women. During medieval ages, Indian princes'  held sessions of 'sur, sura and sundari' (wine, woman and song) long before British rule when there could be no western influence. There is enough evidence of this culture in Hindi poetry. This era is known as 'Reeti Kaal' in Hindi poetry. We may refer to Acharya Chatur Sen shastri's book 'Goli' to get a glimpse of poor slavish women in ancielnt India ruled by princes. 

There are very funny suggestions by many. One is that women's dress- skirts or Jeans are responsuble for their rapes.  But the fact is that the Indian style sari exposes more and facilitates rape. In fact, the rural women are raped even in traditional dress. Even Burqua clad women are not spared. Some one has remarked to Laxma Rekha that Seeta of Ramayana epic had crossed. However, Seeta never wore skirt or Jeans to which Ravana could be attracted. In fact, the sex starved or depraved do not bother about women dress. They will rape whatever be the dress.   

Strict law will not help

Several organizations including womens' stress that a raped woman suffers for her whole life owing to stigma of 'dishonor'.  Who is responsible for this?  The rapist is guilty of only forced sexual assault and nothing more. The existing punishment provided in law suffices provided that this is strictly implemented. Certainty of punishment and not its severity can check rape and other sexual assaults against women. As regards life long trauma suffered by the raped woman, it is caused by the double standard of social values. She is verbally raped many times by her parents, relatives and others. she is called 'kulata' (stimatized) and kulakshni (bad mannered) and so on. The parents even say- Why did you not die before bloackening your face.

Enhancement of punishment for rape to hanging till death will really strengthen the double standard on morality that binds women. This will enslave and not liberate them. This will only go to support the notion of undue emphasis on female chastity and the concept of so called chastity linked 'honor'. If female chastity is so valuable, the attempt to 'protect' this by 'confining women to home and restricting their movement'  and other restrictions can not be opposed. You protect all that is valuable. You keep gold in bank locker. Then why not females also be restricted similarly. Apart from this, death penalty for rapists will further endanger the lives of the raped women. If death is the penalty for rape, there is no reason why her life will be spared after rape.     

Rape is the only offence for which victim is blamed or is said to lose honor. If you are robbed of your money, you do not lose honor. If you are injured, you do not lose honor. Always the peson losing honor is one who commits and offence. But an exception is made in case of rape. Here the rape victim is said to have lost honor. That is why the newspaper and TV channel give the funny report-  The woman was robbed of her honor. It is not understandable how rape can lead to loss of honor. why a man sodomized or subjected to unnatural sexual act does not lose honor.

In fact, the votaries of strct law consisting of death sentence is based on such faulty and illogical concept of 'honor' linked to female chastity. What is behind this illogical concept of female chastity. This is the notion that a woman is 'property'. In fact, several law provisions including those on adultery consder woman as a mere object.

It is unfortunate that the movies like 'Insaaf ka tarazu' also emphasized 'female chastity' as too much. The main character played by Zeenat Amman says in the court- "Whjat was there to defend for after rape'.  She even could not perform as model after the rape and left for another city. 

How to combat rape and other crimes against women

The law as standsa suffices. enhancement of penalty will not help women. This will only strengthen the faulty and illogical concept of 'honor' that is attached th female chastity. Moreover, the rapists will find it more prudent to kill a woman after rape if they feared death sentence for mere rape.

Some suggestions

It is suggested that:

  1. The women and those dealing with crimes against women be given awareness of the double standard. The women should be made confident that rape is only a physical offence and this definitely does not affect their honor. They are as honorable as before irreapective of rape. Mass education campaign in this direction is necessary. The movies should also give up old notions and adhere to the theme that female chatity and male celibacy both are identical. Sexual act- voluntary or forced- has nothing to do with 'honor' and so there is no meaning in life long trauma or guilt feeling. 
  2. The women organizations and the victims or prospective victims need not be defensive. They must assert that the culprits of rape are really 'dishonored'. The rape offenders should be demoralized socially and their marriage be made difficult.
  3. The women should form action groups for protecting their sisters in distress. Some bold women may even pay the guilty men in their own coin. 
  4. The term 'rape' should be replaced by 'sexual assault' and punishment should be similar to that for causing serious injury. More strict punishment will only give strength to existing anti women norms of linking 'honor' to 'chastity'.
  5. After rape, the victims should get their physical injury if any healed and medical treatment be givem.  They need be clearly made to feel that their 'honor' is intact.
  6. The raped women should be encouraged to do their job and activities as usual as if nothing serious had happened.                

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