Rape Is Not Horrible for the Reasons Many Indian Women Are Led to Believe

The fatal rape and beating of a New Delhi woman that shocked and outraged the world last month has rightfully led to a global conversation about rape, women’s rights, and justice.

One woman in particular, Sohaila Abdulali, who wrote about her own experience at the hands of a group of men in a personal essay that has since gone viral due to the New Delhi incident, had this to say in a recent article:

Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored. I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s brains are in their genitals.

If we take honor out of the equation, rape will still be horrible, but it will be a personal, and not a societal, horror. We will be able to give women who have been assaulted what they truly need: not a load of rubbish about how they should feel guilty or ashamed, but empathy for going through a terrible trauma.

In a world where even first-world countries let legislation expire that would help women, we are all way past due to have a discussion about violence like this.

Victims need resources to make themselves healthy again while rapists need to be properly penalized. Until our society learns that rape cannot be blamed on anyone but the rapist(s), tragic stories such as these will continue to happen.

About Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane is the co-founder of Skepticon, the Midwest's largest skeptic student-run conference and remains a lead organizer today. She has not one, but TWO fancy art degrees and is not afraid to use them.

  • baal

    I’m all for changing the US social safty net to include a mechanism for basic food, housing and health care so that folks can take time for themselves without having to worry about even minimal existence as well. Other countries with fewer resources do more. The US is still tops in GDP/person and can afford it. It’s more than too bad that the current politics (as pointed out that even the ultrasimple and extremely limited violence against women act fell to (R) intransigence) makes this a pipe dream.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Not trying to be the grammar police, but there was an ambiguous modifier in the phrase “countries allow legislation that would help women to expire”. I honestly thought it was somehow about euthanasia of women, i.e. helping women to expire. I had to check the link to find that it was about allowing the legislation (which would help women) to expire. I probably just need a midday cup of coffee!

    Back on topic, it is horrific that religious and other cultural pressures make violated women feel that their virtue has been lost. I do not know Indian/Hindu culture well enough to know how much of this is from religious indoctrination. But I do know that for Yahweh’s “never-changing”Judeo-Christian “morality” if a woman is found to NOT be a virgin on her wedding night then her father and all the townsmen are supposed to kill her. Deuteronomy 22:20-21

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I think it’s fixed now.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

        One thing I love about the Friendly Atheist blog is that when a glitch is pointed out (even a relatively nitpicky one like this!), there seems to be no defensiveness… Just an attitude of accepting constructive feedback as such and handling whatever needs to be handled. Thanks!

  • not-a-yank

    This planet is so fucked up.


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