Indian Men and Authorities Are Hiding Their Heads in the Sand…..

hardscrabble hearts

Indian Men and Authorities Are Hiding Their Heads in the Sand…..Hoping the World Will Forget What They Condone.

I wrote this short article “On the Misogyny of Indian Men” in July, 2014.  It doesn’t begin to cover the topic of the entrenched violence of Indian Men towards women and children.  It was then a stab at the very outrageous behavior that is seen as ‘normal’ by many in India.  Has much changed?  In the estimation of many, No. (The demonstrations of thousands are a start, but this is a country of over one billion people).  When you have lawmakers making statements that support the disgusting misogyny and murder by the bus driver (Mukesh Singh) of a 23 year old medical student, you can only throw up your hands at the hopelessness of the situation in India. 

But this raises a question:  Is Mukesh Singh a monster, along with the other 4 men convicted of murder and sentenced to death, or is it a reflection of a deeply entrenched belief in the value of Indian woman in Indian society? As disgusting as Mukesh Singh and his gang of rapists and murderers are, it’s supported by the mentality of many, many men in Indian society.

When the Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu declared:  “We can ban this film (“India’s Daughter”) in India.  But this is an international conspiracy to defame India.  We will see how the film can be stopped abroad, too.”

When defense lawyer A.P. Singh said “if his daughter or sister engaged in pre-martial activities he would take daughter or sister and in front of his entire family, would pour petrol on them and set them afire.”

How is this not barbarism?  India has a long way to go before it can join the civilized world.

‘On the Misogyny of Indian Men’, a short essay and an addition.

Today, March 3rd, 2015, was another article about the rape and death of an Indian woman on a bus.    This interview was  with the bus driver, who has been charged as one of the rapists, and condemned to death for his participation. Though it is hard to understand his justification, this isn’t a surprise to those women in India who suffer the twisted and misogynistic philosophy of many  in Indian society.  In my own country, (USA) I have come across resistance in even discussing the violence towards Indian women from women who should know better. One woman in particular  said this topic was not to be spoken of at dinner.  She went on to endlessly discuss a holiday.  So runs the mentality of many people who refuse to see the suffering of women. She was an educated, professional woman.  Should we expect more of the men in Indian society?

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Indian Rapist Blames Victim for the Rape.

(from AFP News)

One of the men convicted of the gang-rape and murder of an Indian student that shocked the world has said he blames the victim for “roaming around at night”.

The comments are made in a documentary to be screened on International Women’s Day.

Mukesh Singh, who was sentenced to death for his crimes, said the victim should not have been out at night, and should not have resisted the attack on a moving bus in 2012.

“You can’t clap with one hand -– it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night,” he said in an interview for “India’s Daughter”, a BBC documentary to be broadcast on Sunday.

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. About 20 per cent of girls are good.”

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died from her injuries 13 days after she was savagely attacked on her way home from the cinema with a male friend on December 16, 2012.

Before her death she was able to speak to police about the crime, which caused outrage across the world and triggered mass protests in India.

The attack highlighted the frightening level of violence against women in the world’s second most populous country and led to a major reform of the rape laws, speeding up trials and increasing penalties.

But Singh, 28, said his execution would “make life more dangerous for future rape victims”.

“Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her,” he told Leslee Udwin, the award-winning British filmmaker behind the documentary.

(Note: these ‘men’  rammed her with an iron pole, rupturing her intestines)

He also criticised the victim for fighting back against her attackers.

“She should just be silent and allow the rape,” he said. “Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her.”

“India’s Daughter” will be televised in seven countries including India and Britain on Sunday, International Women’s Day.

Udwin will speak to media at a screening of her film later Tuesday alongside the victim’s parents, who have campaigned vocally for improvements in women’s safety since their daughter’s death.

She said she was inspired by seeing ordinary Indians take to the streets to protest “in unprecedented numbers” following the attack.

“In my lifetime, I can’t recall any other country standing up with such commitment and determination for women’s rights,” Udwin said.

The case sparked much soul-searching about India’s treatment of women, but women’s rights campaigners say little has changed in the deeply patriarchal country.

Singh, one of five people convicted over the attack, admitted driving the bus during the incident but denied taking part in the rape.

He is appealing the verdict against him.

(Note: Indian authorities have banned the showing of this film in India.  As of March 5, 2015.)

 

On the Misogyny of Indian Men

Recently I have been reading about this issue of misogyny of men, and in particular, Indian Men.  In part I am pulled into this by some experience.  Misogyny is defined as ‘a hatred of women’Most people think of this in a sexual context.  However, I believe misogyny in some cultures is so prevalent that it defines much more than sexual attitudes, or to speak plainly, it is the total dismissal of women in that culture as second class, intellectually inferior, etc.  This of course, is not isolated to men from India, but is seen world-wide.

My direct experience with Indian men has been of a certain class, mostly from the upper classes.  These are very well educated and placed men in literature, education, the sciences, etc.  They are not the people one would associate with this mentality and behavior, however, I think it is very hard for Indian men in general to avoid the psychological and social issues of misogyny.  It is so prevalent in Indian society at all levels that it stains all classes.  In most  conversations I have had with upper class Indian men, there is a total blackout of any acknowledgement of misogyny in male behavior.   In only one conversation did an Indian man come forth with what he thought was the problem (lack of sex education..which begs the question to me…), but then avoided any further discussion.  Perhaps because I am an American woman this was what was making him uncomfortable, embarrassed,  but I think it is more to the issue that Indians are not comfortable talking about these things in general.  They are a very prudish and traditional society, regardless the level of education.

Actually, misogyny is so deeply entrenched in Indian society (and also in many women) that violence and devaluing women (and what flows from the caste system) is justifiable.

We read of the horrible prevalence of child and women rape in India.  According to statistics, there are over 100 REPORTED rapes of women daily.  This is just the reported rapes.  The amount of rapes unreported is much more.  Why is this so?

First, the usual men who are charged are lower middle and working class men. (of course, there is the case of  Tarun Tejpal, owner and editor of Tehelka in India, decidedly not a working class man, posturing as a left-leaning liberal) There are social and economic issues that make this obvious.  In the major cities  (and especially Delhi)  it is almost dangerous for women, unaccompanied by male relatives, to walk the sidewalks without what is called “eve-teasing”, which is groping and attempts of molestation, besides just wolf-whistles and obnoxious comments about women’s physical characteristics. (The name of this, “eve-teasing” is interesting: Eve being the temptress  of Adam?).  In the countryside, it is as dangerous and perhaps even more so. Gangs of men lie in wait for women walking home from work or on errands. However, what is even more troubling is the role and position of educated woman, women of privilege and class and caste, some who openly attack through media these women who are raped. (And hold that these crimes are those of “little brown men”, who just happen to be their own countrymen.) This is another form of misogyny, female hatred for themselves.  These women align themselves with male oppressors, thinking they will escape all the treatment of male misogynists, at least in the intellectual sphere.  But this is not the behavior of only upper class women.  It is also seen with working class women.  Blaming the rape victims is only part of this hatred.  In one village reported, a rape victim was set upon and threatened with burning alive if she didn’t leave the village of her home.

The intellectual class, the upper classes, like to blame the officials, the lawyers, the courts, and the police in particular for the lack of bringing these rapists to justice, but the base is set within Indian culture and society.  Of course, a high percentage of Indian police are corrupt, and in villages, in the countryside, bribes are standard procedure.  Having full knowledge of rapes and not reporting them is another practice by police.  The police tried to buy off two parents from their legitimate and horrifying complaint when their 5 year old daughter was kidnapped (by three local men) and raped and sodomized for three days.  The parents courageously resisted this. Another man raped a 5 year old girl.  His answer? “She was a beggar’s child. She had no value.”

These atrocities continue on and on.

Tour groups (some from here in the States and Europe, and most from India)  tell  tourists to immediately contact the police when they are molested on the street by Indian men.  But others say that this is rarely help. In fact, it can be even more obstructive to any justice.   One group of women who were staying in a hostel in some Indian city found out fast that every morning, like clockwork, police would show up banging on their door demanding bribes.  What to do?  It’s a difficult situation and only traveling in groups and not certain cities can you attempt at least a semblance of safety.

Where do these attitudes and behaviors of misogyny come from?

The answer to this question is not the place of this short article.  It would take a lot more research and study to answer this fully.  This article is just to raise awareness amongst women thinking about travelling to India and to pose some facts and warnings.

Recently I have been reading some literature that these attitudes are ‘post-Colonial influences’, left over from the period when the British were more than involved with the Indian continent.  Of course, the influence of the British imperialists certainly impacted on just about everything in Indian culture, but the problem of misogyny in India is far older than that.

It goes back to feudalism, and probably farther back.  The approach of man to woman relationship was built upon three things:  1) the availability of sexual release for men, 2) the issue of domestic  servitude and 3) reproduction.    Only where women are educated is some of this lessened.  However, this is also showing to be a double-edged sword. There is resentment from men of all classes where women are educated.  And as one Indian woman said to me recently, the very thing that should liberate women from the backwardness of society doesn’t.  “We are educated to not bring shame to our upper class and professional parents and relatives, but we are stopped from real liberation because of tradition. We can only go just so far with education.  We must not step on toes.”

Religion is of course part of the mix.  There are female goddesses in Hindu religion and they are devotedly worshiped.  But the culture of misogyny is so deep within the Indian mindset that even this has little effect in abating the behaviors of rape, molestation, etc. Goddesses are one thing, women are another.

Female Infanticide and the Sex Trade of Children

 –

There is a long history of female infanticide in India history.   Girls are killed at birth, or aborted or abandoned to die because their ‘worth’ is so much less than boys. ( In some families, the girls are only allowed to eat the leftovers of the boys after they have eaten.) This is part of the cultural behavior within India and is very old.  This is very much the base of this Indian misogyny.  It starts at the birth.  IF a female child is allowed to grow in the womb.  Recently I read that there are over 750,000 abortions of FEMALE fetus per year in India.  And, in many cases, if a woman delivers a girl child, the husband, the male of the family will tell her to  ‘get rid of it’.  In other words, many women face the situation of killing their own daughters shortly after birth.  Interestingly enough, there is now a shortage of women in India, and this fact is given for the rape and molestation by Indian men.  One man I know speaks of the necessity of sexual revolution in Indian culture, and this might be so, but I believe the situation goes beyond this.  It has everything to do with the cultural attitudes of Indians towards women, and yes, the attitudes of Indian mothers, also.

Women are just dismissed, demeaned, and denied within the broader Indian culture. They area truly second class citizens.  They are seen with little value by men.   It isn’t always sexual, but the fear that women live with is constant, and many times it is sexual.  The truncated intellectual progress that is denied because a woman is born a woman in India is one of the greatest wastes of humanity.

Statistically over 100,000 children are kidnapped or disappear from their parents and villages every year. This feeds into the sex trade and is generated also by the blinding poverty of the masses of Indians in rural villages and urban slums.  Parents sell their own children into this trade, or children are driven by hunger.

We in the West certainly have these same things, but definitely not to the extent that Indian women feel today.  Our laws are strong when applied and our police of course have the same ability to be as corrupt as the Indian police, but when our laws work, they abate some of this. But we don’t have one billion citizens and we don’t have quite the corruption of Indian lawmakers. Indian  courts are, at best, chaotic.  Rape and abuse cases can be ignored, or drag on for years.  And the feminist movement in India is little older than a decade.

I believe that generally good Indian men don’t understand how they can easily slip into the mind thought and behavior of misogyny.  Unfortunately, Indian men, many men in my experience take it as their right to demand that women do things they themselves don’t want to do.  It is because we, as women…our work, our creativity, are of a lesser standard in their eyes. Surely we can put aside our work, our propulsion towards our success for what is more ‘important’ in their belief.  This is an intellectual form of servitude.  We must see this behavior for what it is and bring it sharply to their attention.  Further, we must not be cajoled with praise to do things that put us off our road of progress.  This is a dead end for women and puts us further back in our successes in life.

 

Is India too dangerous to visit today?

 

Finally, is India too dangerous a country to visit?  I have had numerous friends, professional women and other poets who have gone to India in the past year to bring home their daughters studying there.  I would say that yes, India is in too much turmoil socially and politically for foreign women to visit, especially single women.  Even couples have been attacked, the woman gang raped and the man beaten. We have heard of many gang rapes of European women in the past few years  and this doesn’t even begin to amount to the terror and fear that Indian women and girls must live with daily.

What is the solution?  One Indian woman friend said that “all Indian men are misogynist. It’s in their DNA.”  I am hoping that those sane and good Indians, men and woman, realize how their country women (and men) are suffering and how the rest of the world sees India in all its disgusting denial for the violence it inflicts (and shows little remorse) upon the women and children of India.

Otherwise, travel there at your own risk.

Lady Nyo

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels who is also Lady Nyo

Copyrighted, 2015

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8 Responses to “Indian Men and Authorities Are Hiding Their Heads in the Sand…..”

  1. Kanti Burns Says:

    Reblogged this on Kanti Burns, Book Reviews and more ….

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  2. Caliban's Sister Says:

    I read this article and several others. Appalling. Beyond belief actually. And until they change their cultural attitude toward and treatment of women, in a big way, INdian will never be a first world country, no matter how sophisticated it manages to be in other ways. I would be afraid to visit India.

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  3. ladynyo Says:

    And you would be right to be afraid. I think it interesting that there are a spate of new movies (some of them look like Bollywood hybrids..) that intrigue people to visit. Since Indian authorities are attempting to stop the showing of “India’s Daughter”, perhaps people should boycott the lovely new productions that glamourize ‘life’ (mostly for rich tourists) in India?

    The rot of India is in its laws and misogyny. Even the educated men I have known and worked with don’t have a handle on this issue towards women. One said: “Sex education is needed”. What???? The fact that rape and the killing, drowning, smothering, “Get rid of that baby girl” behavior is common in India, begs the question of sex education.

    Indians in the city say these murders only happen in the villages, the rural parts of India…and people in the villages say these murders of women only happen in the big cities and the slums of the major cities: Mumbai, New Delhi, etc. They happen all over. Over 100 rapes reported each day and this isn’t accounting the unreported rapes and violations.

    Capitalism crows about the great technological advances of India. However, what is being done about the hideous poverty, violence and murders of so many of women and children? Little, if nothing.

    India will never be a first world country, the barbarism and misogyny is too deep, and what defines civilization?

    You have it exactly right, CS: Appalling beyond belief.

    Thanks for reading and your comment. So many ‘good’ people seem to be afraid to take a stand.

    Jane
    The

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  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Kanti, this situation in India needs to be spread and addressed.

    Jane

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  5. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    I read the article and the man expressed a sentiment that is consistent across the culture. The education level has influences, where my father who was educated at a Western university, still shows the sentiment that women are by default inferior. He isn’t violent only that women are there to serve and not be heard. He has told me many times into my adult life that his life would have been easier if I were male.

    I think educated women feel this too b/c of the extreme cultural pressure. The security they have through community is decreased if she can’t produce a male and if she were to shame her family.

    The entrenchment of this is so strong that it exists with Indians who immigrate to the US, UK, etc. What happens inside an Indian American household is very private but it is no different in terms of how women are viewed. Women serve the men even if American society sees the woman working. My mother who has a master’s degree serves my father. She also abuses but also serves him.

    If I look at the first generation (which is me included) and the second generation Americans, the cycle exists but in a very underhanded, subtle way. It has become hidden and lied about. I have yet to find another Indian American friend who would agree that misogyny even in a subtle way happens in Indian families. We are taught not to shame the family, but bear in mind ‘shaming’ the family is not the same as ‘shame’ as psychology defines it.

    It is great you added to this article. xxTR

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  6. ladynyo Says:

    TR: your comment and observation is EXTREMELY important and should be read by many here and there. unfortunately, most people have their heads in the sand. But you speak from direct experience, and that is worth gold.

    Yes, my experience with Indian men is similar (and with Indian women, too) Just recently I had this experience and it really got my cackles up: it was with literary men, and their inability to understand their own misogyny…and frankly, to NOT address anything they see in their own writing is what is shameful. One actually said to me that the solution to the misogyny in India was sex education. How in Hell is that supposed to make any difference? It’s a deeply entrenched attitude supported by caste, etc. and the behavior of Indian politicians (men and women) are what is shameful.

    Very recently a 71 year old nun was gang raped in West Bengal. REading the comments by Indian men was sickening: Of course there were men who were appalled but there were men who said that this was ‘turnaround’ for Imperialism….in India. When are they going to look at the real issues in Indian society today???

    and argument of these blockheads is that US has more rapes than India. I don’t know the stats on this but we also have laws and punishment and police that aren’t corrupt like Indian police. Of course we have corruption, but there is a difference and there is a difference in social attitudes. I mourn for the young women of India. What a future to look towards with men (and their own male relatives) who are entrenched in these attitudes and behavior.

    Your position on these things have great worth because of your background, but also your sensitivity and intelligence. Yes, the cycle continues, and it is a horrible one for women in India, Pakistan, etc. One politician (high up in Indian govt. said that “Women have no place in Indian society”. What??????)

    Thank you, TR.
    Love, Jane

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  7. TR Says:

    Stats are tricky. If you don’t have a system that reports accurate data, your crime numbers can be low. The US has a high number b/c woman can report a rape AND b/c US data is free and available. That is an important distinction, working in marketing analysis in Europe I have found it difficult to get accurate reports on food industry b/c of fear of competition. No system is perfect and the US has its fair share of problems and loopholes. It is still progressive.

    What is concerning in the behavior of comparing crime stats is that it is a PROBLEM if violent crimes occur. It doesn’t matter who is lower than someone other country. It MATTERS that rapes/killings occur. Throwing stats out serves to play ‘fetch’ and not focus on the real issue: Violent crimes happen.

    I believe everyone’s opinions has worth. We are allowed to have opinions about cultures even if we are not from it. Outside perspective is important, sometimes I can be too prejudiced in my views and then not liking my FOO skews it as well. My cousins and I don’t get along, not surprising. They make it a point to remind me how much better they are then me. We live different lives, who is to say one is better than the other? It isn’t. I’ve chosen only a different path. I’m grateful I have a different path.

    There is a fundamental change that needs to occur before any change in crimes happens. Unfortunately it is a culture change that is required. Culture change is the hardest to change.

    Oh, I wanted to add, educated men in India or Indians who are raised in Western culture hide sexual abuse better than uneducated men. I know that in my FOO (this includes cousins from both sides) and family friends, that many Indian Americans who I know have participated in sexual abuse of women. The women condone it (probably through fear), though they won’t say they do. The educated man who is misogynistic learns how to get away with it and not get caught. I believe that sexual abuse happens in the majority of Indian American households – I have no proof, only my FOO relatives and other information.

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  8. ladynyo Says:

    And even if you don’t have ‘proof’ you have the experience of knowing intimately other Indian Americans. Plus, the culture of misogyny is so deep within Indian society, I would think it would be a rare event not to find this.

    Stats are tricky. And you are exactly right: it’s a game of ‘fetch’. This is what I find in the comments with Indian men about rape, murder. They say the US has a greater rape culture, but they don’t stop to consider that the vast majority of rapes, murders in India aren’t reported…or if reported are covered over by bribes. I had a dentist, from Mumbai, and he was young educated man who just chuckled that “a bribe would make anything go away.”. I was pretty shocked by his attitude (and the corruption of this attitude extended into other things, also) and he’s no longer my dentist. There was something just queer and unbending about his attitude towards women. Any woman.

    We have rape here.. certainly. but we also have a system of reporting, and punishment. That doesn’t seem the standard in India or Pakistan. But the caste system covers this behavior and men get away with this behavior. Educated men? I sit on a board of advisors of Indian literature, and recently I wondered why. None of these (mostly Indian men) write anything about the horrific conditions in their own country: they continue to write love poems, write articles about folktales, etc…yet none of them dares to write about the conditions in India….except when they do, they yell that it’s based in British Imperialism. (or I have been told not to bother the editor in chief with an article (Misogyny in Indian Men) because ‘we shouldn’t force someone to read something that they aren’t interested in.” Bullshit. Educated Indian men have a chance and a responsibility to at least try to make these important changes…however, the depth of misogyny in Indian men is so prevalent that it’s hard for them to acknowledge. And why should they? They are cultivated from an early age in this misogyny.

    Hell, the conditions that are anti-female were there way before the Brits came. But like many cultures, they look to the others for excuses for their own horrific behaviors. The British stopped the burning of widows, yet where did this come from? Way before the Brits ever set foot on Indian soil.

    I’m glad TR you have had a different path. I’m grateful that at least one Indian woman I know has a chance to see clearly and act upon this knowledge.

    Bless you.
    Love, Jane

    Like

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