Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Misogyny & Gang-Rape in Bangladesh


Over the weekend I watched an episode of the excellent documentary series VICE on City, which showcases some of VICE's most compelling stories. Not exactly 'relaxing' Sunday viewing, I know. There is so much awful happening in this world, it's a good idea sometimes to take a break from the news. I have trouble taking any time off from subjects that interest me, which is not a healthy habit, I admit. But at least it keeps me writing and drawing, right?

The episode we watched was very similar, sadly, to the recent chilling documentary - India's Daughter (though this one aired first it seems - how did I miss it before?). The film spoke about the rampant problem of rape in Bangladesh, and the attitudes of male authority figures surrounding it. Very similar themes, with infuriatingly similar rape apologists featured.

I wrote a piece on India's daughter, but it's time for another one....because this mentality needs to be exposed at every opportunity. Before you start getting tribal and defending whatever group you identify with - I fully acknowledge that rape is a global problem, it transcends geographical, social, cultural, economic and religious boundaries. It affects us *all*. I get it.

Some things however, feed into rape culture and nurture it far more than others. South Asian culture in particular, regardless of religion seems to be affected by this. Our regressive views on women, their sexuality, their 'role' and their fictitious connection to honour are still deeply entrenched in our collective consciousness. Our progressives think like this, our rich folk think like this, our poor and illiterate think like this...and too many don't even pretend to want equality. At least in the West, most (there are exceptions of course) people would be ashamed to defend rape or make excuses for it publicly. In South Asia however, rape is too often unabashedly declared as the woman's fault.

Our mother subcontinent is unwittingly pregnant with many misogynists who hurt, damage and destroy the fibres of our regional morality. They fill her womb with so much corruption, hate, shattered dreams, and broken women...this leaves the skin of the land stretched taut, on the verge of ripping apart the already tattered pieces of a nation that once was.

Bangladesh is the country where two secular bloggers were horrifically hacked to death earlier this year (in two separate incidents). Clearly there is a problem with security, safety and extremism. So I commend the brave correspondent Tania Rashid as well as VICE for exposing this mentality for what it is. And also for showing how religion can indeed fuel such ways of thinking. We know that critique of one particular religion often does not go down well.

Below I will share some screenshots from the film with you, but please do watch the whole thing if you get a chance. It is difficult, but so important to see these things. You can watch the film here (or try the VICE on City link above).


Imagine what the rate would be if it included those men who don't admit to this, and those women who are too afraid to come forth because of stigmatization. I dread to think how high it would be if the numbers reported were more accurate. 

The picture painted here evokes an image of nothing less than a horror film - of monsters dragging their prey to a swamp. And the sense of entitlement...is shocking. As if women are literal objects for men to use and discard as they please, where they please. The rapist is hiding his face here out of 'shame' perhaps, but certainly expressed no real remorse for his actions.

And this is so important to acknowledge. How do ancient scriptures contribute to such perceptions of women. It is something every Muslim willing to be honest with themselves must ask. What do the scriptures say about women, about the concepts of consent, about modesty...and in what context? It is hard to look at something you've loved all your life so critically, but it is also important if we want change. 

Imam's main issue with gang-rape seems to be the fact that it is extra-marital sex - which god has forbidden. God has no major issues (especially in the Abrahamic context) with the non consensual aspect, but more with sex that is outside of hetero-marriage. So if women could just be a little more considerate and stop tempting men with their very existence, just stay indoors - then we wouldn't have this problem. And most importantly, men wouldn't be forced by evil women to look bad infront of god. Poor menz. 
(Click to enlarge) Its simple really, women are at fault.
I hope you're taking notes ladies: cover yourself from head to toe, lest you provoke uncontrollable lust in men (and also stay indoors) - and then you will not get raped.
Because a) covered women obviously are never raped.
b) if you never leave your house, how can you be raped?
c) women stop being so selfish, and forcing men to rape you.

Aside from that, if you're not fully covered - then you get raped *and* sent to hell by your woman-hating merciful god.

Meet Rohima - who is a very brave survivor of gang rape. Her very existence (and the many women like her) should be enough to tell you that this 'cover or you'll be raped' narrative is complete and utter bullshit.


(Click to enlarge) For the police commander spouting much of the same crap as the imam, the reporter's clothing is apparently not enough to make him not want to rape her. A giant cloth covering even her head is not enough. What next? The niqab, the burqa? This is the line of thinking it originates from. Please tell me again how it is not rooted in anti-woman culture? Please tell me how it is a tool for bodily autonomy...?

This is the mentality you are supporting when you try to make religious modesty fit a seemingly 'nicer' narrative. 

I  highly recommend that you watch this film in its entirety, and please do share the post. The world needs to see things like this, especially so well-meaning western liberals can stop advocating for and defending anti-woman practices under the guise of relativism, 'minority' culture, etc. If you see a harmful practice or mentality, please call it out...don't let it grow and spread dressed up as multiculturalism. This is how our cultures will grow and join the modern world. This is how we are not held to lower standards of morality. 

I've said this before, but intolerance should never be tolerated. 

***

I will leave you with a table I drew, to demonstrate my feelings of frustration surrounding the double standards when it comes to calling out 'certain' things, especially in terms of Western liberal perspectives. Yes I am aware there are exceptions.




A huge thanks to my patrons: Fred, Ruthless Atheist, Lisa Fontaine, Ali Sajid Imami, Humanist Agressor, Jesus&Mo, Pastafarian Woman, Alexander, Know the Question, Mb Cunney, Leneke Van Houten, Alberto and Yasmien - your support means a lot and will help me allocate more time towards writing and drawing!

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