Kathmandu, April 2 – “Rape is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear,” this is what well- known US feminist Susan Brownmiller argues in her groundbreaking book ‘Against Our Will: Women, Men and Rape’, drawing both acclamation and criticism.
As we know that in the recent days, the cases of rape and sexual violence against women are making media headlines almost every day, creating fear among the girls, women and especially those parents who have daughters.
On the one hand campaigns, advocacy and activisms for girl/women rights are going on while on the other hand incidents of rape and sexual harassments continue to shock the Nepalese society.
In this backdrop, women rights activists, academicians and students gathered at the Orchid International College Sunday to discuss on the issue of rape.
The discussion was organised by the Tribhuvan University (TU), MA in Gender Studies Programme.
TU Professor Ms Mira Mishra viewed that “rape is always calculated”. It means that rapist seeks an ‘appropriate chance’ to rape. Refuting some research works which attempt to link the issue of rape with mental illness of perpetrator, she argues that rather it is intentional and conscious.
According to her, rape is related to power relation; it is the subordination and objectification of women and an inhumane act committed by those who do not value human justice and equal existence of the women.
“Rape is not a sexual act as claimed by some people,” she asserted. Survivors are forced to live with rage and pain, and with the accompanying post-rape trauma.
Senior Superintendent of Nepal Police, Chandra Kumar Khapung sees deeply rooted patriarchy that has been ruling the human society since a long time as the root cause of all sorts of violence including rape. He goes with Dr Mishra’s point that this heinous crime is linked with the power relation.
“If the situation was reverse (it means if women are powerful), perhaps women would not have fallen prey to sexual violence and against,” he predicts.
Women rights activist Sharu Joshi Shrestha calls for holding more and more dialogues and intensifying activism against rape. “Rape is rape and it cannot be redefined in a way that provides a situation to become flexible towards the perpetrator.”
In her view, naming and shaming against perpetrators in the cases of rape must be practiced to establish the truth that the perpetrator and not survivor is responsible for the crime and deserves stringent action.
She advocates for providing a space for survivors to share their experiences and speak against such exploitations.
A student shared that the flood of rape news in the media has really disturbed her these days. She is much more worried about her nine-year-old daughter and is in a state of constant fear since the rape of a seven-year-old girl in Parsa last month.
Amit Timilsina who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Gender Studies says he, as a male, feels pain core to his heart when he hears the news about the rape and murder of women after rape, and other sorts of violence against them. Incidents of serial rape cases either that are related to the Durbar Marga-based Hotel Landmark gang rape or the rape against a seven -year-old girl in Parsa or the rape on a 65-year-old woman in Saptari or the SEE-appearing student in Surkhet who was allegedly murdered after rape.
He called on the male community to challenge Brownmiller’s notion and help to create a just and peaceful society by ending all sorts of violence against women.
As shared by SP Khapung to the gathering, domination and control, revenge, ego, negative influence of social media and the Internet, curiosity, sexual lust, drugs and alcoholic abuse, myths (men’s misjudgment that women wearing short clothes are inviting and appealing), psychological disorder are reported during the interrogations with perpetrators when asked what provoked them to commit the crime.
The last 21 years’ data about crime against women and children shows that in the fiscal year, 053-54 BS, the cases of rape (reported) were 112 and this number significantly jumped to touch 1,130 in the year 072-73 BS. He reveals the reality that these are only cases reported to the police, the cases that go unreported are even higher than this data (above 60 percent).
It would be not justifiable to blindly support the idea of Brownmiller, but it is true that women do not feel safe while walking alone at night, while being surrounded and while travelling alone in a long route as a fear of being attacked by male dwells on her mind, says Bishnu Waiba of Makwanpur, an MA gender studies student.
TU Professor Bindu Pokhrel referring gender and development expert Dr Chandra Bhadra who in her Op-ed published under the title, ‘rage against rape’, in the Kathmandu Post in 2015, argues that “rape is an invasion upon women’s body and soul; it kills our souls and spoils our lives.”
She says that the crime that kills souls of survivor and spoils lives is never ever pardonable and combined efforts, stern action, and social awareness are necessary to control this and to let women to live with dignity and without any fear of being raped or sexually abused.