The reported series of rapes in one of the Indian states leaves one wondering as to what is wrong with our society. Assaults on women take many forms and the worst is rape. It is an ugly manifestation of a rotten mindset. And this rot is seeded, nourished and coded in the mind by the process of enculturation. It is entirely a matter of what prism is used to see a woman. “What is woman” is entirely a matter of cultural construction: a means or an end in herself!
The response to rapes came in many sanity defying forms like reduction of marriage age and consumption of western food. These logic defying solutions leave one wondering as to what really is the connection between rapes and age and food. Do married men not violate the dignity of women? Do we have a higher incidence of rapes in western societies where people eat only western food?
Is the cause psychological or physiological? In the ‘animal’ society there may not be any concept of rape. Animals are driven by ‘raw’ desires. In Freud’s conceptualization a person could be possessed by ‘chaotic cauldron of seething excitations’. The instinctual possession seeks immediate gratification (animalism). But every society develops its own morality or superego. The pull of the untamed passion needs to be regimented and controlled. Superego imposes moralistic prohibitions to regulate behavior. It is expressed in moral and ethical code of conduct of a society. Superego tames and restrains the urges and impulses triggered by the ‘id’.
Every society evolves its own codes of morality. The violations are checked by prohibitions. The first code of behavior is governed by evocations of emotions of shame and guilt. Guilt checks behavior by a self imposed feeling that one should not harm the other (one feels bad about one’s actions). Shame is perception of our diminished stature as a result of an act. What one feels guilty or ashamed of is passed on in the early stage of development. These represent mechanisms of self policing and self punishment. Do these rapes suggest reversal of value system in our society? Guiltlessness is detrimental to collective existence.
When the self imposed and socially enforced norms fail, a stern hand of State is required. The guiltlessness and tolerance of culprits of rape indicates failure of consciousness in controlling obnoxious behavior. The culprits should be ruthlessly treated both legally and socially. The frequently occurring phenomenon of rape reveals the rot and malaise that plague our legal system. Easy and convenient attributions made about the causes of rape mask a grotesque mindset. Why does the legal system fail the rape victims? It has to do with the composition and attitude of law makers and enforcers. These professions are male dominated.
How civilized a society is, is reflected in the treatment it metes out to women and not just by the material gains or economic indicators. Economics must translate into culture. As people get economically homogenized what one owns ceases to be a true class marker.
The new class marker should be how fair we are to the fair sex personally, legally and socially as a whole.