& in our killing rage, desire, simply uncontrollable…
I wrote these thoughts because I’m angry – angry at the way we think and act as men where women are concerned. It’s true that the recent attack – and resultant tragic death – of Namita Bhandare, the 25 year-old female student on that Delhi night bus by five young men, was the latest spur to writing something.
It’s not an unrelated fact that female infanticide in India is matched by rape and other attacks on innocent female students and workers by males: and caste as well as education and fundamental religious belief and superstition play their part. Typically, unjustly, it is the female victim who is made to feel shame.
But the male suspects involved are just potential ‘victims’ too – according to their lawyer - citing the possibility that media-inspired furore and widespread public protest could lead to a gross miscarriage of justice in their trial, and that in its ‘run-up’, while in holding cells, the cops may beat them.
Is it fair they may not get a fair trial? Certainly not. And it’s also true that I, like many others – men and women – find the penalty of death, guilty or not, at odds with conscience and belief. But a naturally outraged human response is not surprising.
I happened to hear a recent BBC Radio 4 programme (‘Crossing Continents’: 10/01/13, 11.00-11.30 a.m), which got me thinking further, and has informed and focussed my mind on facts such as of those above. According to a new TV series (Saving Face’, (Channel 4.), women are subjected to acid attack in Pakistan. Their faces are often not their fortune – just their fate - as is the continuing trafficking of young women as brides against their will - due to the shortage of brides by the increasing use of both modern and traditional methods of sex-selection in favour of boys in the East. This too was mentioned as the reason why many young men there say they feel frustrated – and, in the notorious Delhi-bus case, a ‘reason’ – apart from deep-seated suspicion and hatred of especially young female workers and students – that apparently led to the attack.
It’s true too that India, like other African and Eastern countries, has deep-seated problems - but so have we in the West: we simply cannot afford to be smug, self-satisfied that our women, on the whole – do not face the same risks and retribution. But is this true? In Nottingham, as in other places in Britain at least, women and girls face all kind of injustices – and certainly both beatings and killings – just because they’re women, and somehow, from pay-packet to domestic situations, still perceived by many men (perhaps unconsciously, by most) as being somehow less than them. Silence still is deafening regarding violence and sexual abuse in the home: it’s still a subject best not looked at too closely: media reports last year highlighted the local situation (BBC TV, East Midlands).
And even now, the Jimmy Saville outrage is seen by some (older) males as something understandable from an ‘socio-historic’ perspective: were not female groupies ‘fair (sexual) game’ in those far-off halcyon days of Rock & Roll?.. OK the girls were young, but dressed in mini-skirts and make-up, a guy could be forgiven for misunderstanding their intentions and their age… This patriarchal misogynistic crap persists even in light of the further news today (11/0113) that Saville violated girls as young as eight.
And look how older women with young men are still regarded: it’s still much more okay for the opposite to be the case. Shadows of sexual, gender, race and class-related
prejudice and practice persists: it’s still an insult for any ‘real man’ to be considered ‘female’. Gays/women are viewed as suspect by both political and religious ‘fundamentalists’: vide the reaction to both gay and female bishops.
In relation to our own society too, the Joint (UK governmental) report, released today by the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and the Office of National Statistics, highlighted the low conviction rate for rape and other sex-crimes against especially women – due still, it seems, to a reticence on behalf of victims to report as well as a still poor response by police and other agencies. Only about an average (over 3 years) of 1,000 out of 60-95,000 rape cases lead to conviction per annum. And apparently – that ratio again - 1 in 5 British females have experienced sex-attacks since the age of sixteen (Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, Friday 11/01/13, a.m.: UK Press reports 10-11/01/13).
So, no doubt like you, I’m angry: East or West the problem is only different by degree – so there is no reason for any smugness. And it’s why I felt I had to write, especially, perhaps, as I am a middle-class, Christian, Anglo-Indian, professional male living in the UK – hence privileged. So I scribble: paraphrasing Edward Said – although often futile, there must be resistance…