17 November, 2017

In Response To ‘Are Women To Be Blamed For Rape?’

By Deepthika Appuhamy

Deepthika Appuhamy

Deepthika Appuhamy

When I read Mr. Fazl’s article on rape and ‘preventative’ measures, I felt a mixture of disbelief and anger. I was angry at the antiquated and discriminatory views expressed in his piece and I felt disbelief that such views could be expressed on a public forum such as the Colombo Telegraph. Upon reflection however, I have resigned myself to accept that his views are not a rarity in our society. Rather, it festers widely within our community and provides fuel for would-be rapists and sexual predators.

I could respond to his comments in two distinct ways. I could firstly break down his arguments one by one and provide my two cents on why I think his views are misleading and dangerous. Secondly however, I could take the crux of his argument and try to understand why he (along with many other individuals in Sri Lanka) holds such a warped opinion on rape and how it exacerbates the plight of sexual assault victims. Therefore, I will not use this space to challenge the question posed by Mr. Muhammed Fazl, which I believe, does not deserve to be addressed or given any more extra attention. Rather, I will make an effort to provide an answer to the question of why some men rape. Why some men feel no remorse in blatantly violating the physical integrity of a woman, and why their comrades such as Mr. Fazl readily excuse their behaviour.

A multi-country study[1] published by a syndicate of UN agencies provides some perspective on this issue. According to the study cited above, 66% of Sri Lankan men who perpetrated rape against women admitted that their motivation for rape was sexual entitlement, and only 34.2% of these respondents felt any remorse for their actions. The pivotal question these statics pose is two-tiered: what social and cultural constructs allow men to derive a feeling of sexual entitlement and why have we as a country and a region, fostered and molly-coddled individuals who hold such opinions?

Women RapeThe Sri Lankan education system, I believe, must bear a large portion of responsibility for the high rape rates. As a born and bred Sri Lankan, I endured more than 10 years of public education. The only form of sex education we received was a 5 page description of puberty and some indistinct pictures. Whilst some children (myself included), refer to thick volumes of encyclopaedias for our ‘birds and bees’ questions, most children (especially boys) satisfy their burning questions through internet pornography and hear-say of older, more experienced ‘aiyyas’ and ‘akkas’. Where is the conversation regarding intimacy, consent and mutual respect? Who teaches Sri Lankan children to protect themselves against sexual abuse and unwanted physical contact? How do young girls learn to believe that they are not subordinates of their male counterparts and do not need to say yes if they mean no? Who guides young boys to respect the physical integrity and personal space of others?

When our education system discourages any open discussion regarding sexual conduct, is it really surprising that young men with distorted feelings of sexual entitlement grow up thinking that they have a right to accost any woman sexually? And if our education system does not teach young boys of their responsibility to respect their female counterparts, is it really such a shock that men such as Mr. Fazl feel no guilt in victim blaming and shaming?

The distorted minds created by the local education system are then nurtured through our criminal justice system. In my line of work at the Sri Lankan criminal court system, I have personally witnessed the fear and guilt that victims experience whilst on the witness stand. To put it succinctly, they are raped over again by an unsympathetic criminal justice system. Whilst statues[2] in countries such as the UK severely restrict evidence of prior sexual history of the victim in rape trials, personal history of the victim is open season for Sri Lanka defence lawyers. Furthermore, rape cases drag on for decades at which point, many victims lose all hope for legal redress.

The antiquated Sri Lankan statutes on sexual assault further blight the already apathetic criminal justice system. For instance, the principle enactment of law on rape found in section 363 of the Penal Code, fails to outlaw marital rape[3]. Marital rape has been outlawed in most countries for decades[4]and intimate partner violence is considered to be as equally atrocious as non-partner rape. Moreover, under Section 364, the punishment for gang rape and rape of a minor under the age of 18 ranges from a measly seven years to a maximum of twenty. Appallingly, 97% of Sri Lankan men who admit to raping a woman do not face any form of legal consequences. It is time for the Sri Lankan legislature to engage in an introspective discussion of whether the current law imposes a sufficient degree of legal deterrence against sexually motivated crimes.

When rapists and sexual predators are provided with an environment which fosters gender discrimination and misogyny, we will continue to mourn the demise of another young woman at the hands of warped minds. When we allow individuals such as Mr. Fazl to freely provide justifications for heinous acts going against the very fundamental principles of humanity, we obliquely encourage predators to carry out their attacks with no reservations.

Vithya’s unimaginable torture and indescribably tragic demise has opened up the usually dormant discussion of rape prevention in Sri Lanka. It has brought to light, the pressing need for stricter legal deterrence against rape and the plight of countless women who have fallen victim to rape and sexual assault long before Vithya’s brutal murder. In light of the gang rape and murder of an 18 year old school child, any opinion piece on rape must contribute constructively to the discussion of rape prevention. It must not apportion blame on the victim or hold women responsible for their own suffering. As Germaine Greer rightly states, ‘guilt is one side of a nasty triangle; the other two are shame and stigma. This grim coalition combines to inculpate women themselves of the crimes committed against them’[5]. Mr. Fazl’s article embodies everything indicated by Dr. Greer and for that reason, must reproached.


[1] ‘Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?: Quantitative findings from the United Nations Multi-Country study on men and violence in Asia and the Pacific’, < http://unwomen-asiapacific.org/docs/WhyDoSomeMenUseViolenceAgainstWomen_P4P_Report.pdf> Accessed 26th May 2015.

[2] Section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

[3] Admittedly, some minor legislation on domestic violence discusses marital rape, but this is neither comprehensive nor

[4] Eg: by the decision of R v R (1991) in the UK and even in Asian countries such as Thailand in 2007 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6225872.stm)

[5] < http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/12/opinion/greer-women-and-guilt/>

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    This is all about enlightenment, respect, literacy, education, values and decency. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, over the years, and particularly the last 10 years under the Rajapakse regime, these values and decency has been eroded. The absence of a rule of law encouraged by the noble leader MR provided rapists with the opportunity to express their animal instincts on women knowing that they were protected by the leaders. Our politicians including the sons and relatives of our glorious past leader indirectly harassed women for sexual favours which is a form of rape. Sri Lankan men lack respect for women and see them as objects of sex available to fulfil their animal instincts. It all boils down to values and respect and in a country like Sri Lanka it has been well known for decades that the clergy ie, budhhist monks, catholic priests and hypocritical immams have used their position to rape not only girls and women but even boys. The sexual perversions of the previous MD of Sri Lankan airlines testifies to the sex obsession which this old fart had for the air hostesses and how he abused his position for sexual gratification. The Tangalle incident where a foreign lady was gang raped by the close friends of our glorious ex president’s son speaks volumes of the level of depravity and brutality that was encouraged by the Mara regime. Numerous stories of the rape incidents that have taken place in Tharuniyata hetak, the closing stages of the war, Air Lanka, peacetime armed forces all indicate that the members of the previous government turned a blind eye to this abhorrent practice.When judges and politicos have been known to harass women what can the country’s citizens expect from the government to take action. A corrupt police, corrupt judiciary, corrupt government, corrupt politicians, this is the sad scenario that exists, and what hope for justice when you still have these criminals running the country. Until such time as the law is applied equally to all citizens and severe punishments meted out to offenders, rapes will continue to occur. They say one in ten men have rapist tendencies in Sri Lanka in keeping with the wonder of asia slogan that our ex leader espoused. Public castration followed by a jail term for life should be seriously considered for rapists.

  • 10
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    The problem lies in the upbringing. In our society, a male child is considered and treated as a god. Mothers bring up their sons to believe that they are far superior to the girl child.If we don’t stop the problem at the root cause, we will continue to hear of such horror stories as the case of Vithya.

  • 2
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    Rape is a crime committed by criminals it is not a judgement on a society or an education system. it is there in western eastern Northern and southern societies everywhere in the world . as unfortunate as is the one committed in the North there is one committed in the most promiscuous and conservative of places every second . So treat it like the crime it is . forget about the nonsense about what is taught in sex education . Murders as not committed because there is no proper education on violence but because there are freaking murderers there . Simple as that . Nothing more in this show , move on folks

    • 3
      2

      Abhaya,

      Here we go again , as usual you put your foot in your mouth again , according to your P.hD brain , it’s only a criminal act and only criminals engaged in raping women ! wow , what a discovery , no body knew these facts before your thundering proclamation , well done Abhaya , please pat yourself for another marvellous public humiliation .
      of course every body knows criminals are the ones who rape women , point being , why certain men engage in such barbaric acts ? what made them to indulge in by force sex with innocent women ? to critically analyse these facts , one needs to have some grey matter up in his head , it won’t do any good by just dismissing other people’s analytical skills with your usually ,silly short sited warped ideas ,at least now , start learning to think rationally .

      PS: i’m reluctant to engage with you on other matters as i haven’t got a direct answer to my previous , 1.5 year P.hD query .haven’t you called your lunatic, racist friend Nalin desilva yet ?

    • 1
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      Abhaya ,

      here is a classic example how morons display their utter stupidity ,take a look at this extraordinary video clip . Bandula Gunawardana defends Vasideva’s utter filth .Abhaya you are not very far from BG.

      https://youtu.be/E7A44AhTuXE

  • 6
    2

    My blood boiled after reading that garbage from Fazl. Its a disgrace that people like him are allowed to voice their thoughts in public platforms.

    His arguments are immature and sexist and I’m glad research and actually data bound articles like yours put his to shame.

    Thank you. Such a relief that someone re-approached this.

  • 10
    0

    We are yet the ‘Naked Apes’ despite the rather thin veneer of civilization / humanisation we have evolved over the millennia. These civilizational/humanization norms have been under tremendous pressure in the 20th- 21st centuries and have many instances yielded. The females in particular have been liberated from the biological and societal shackles that had bound them. They are on par with men in almost all spheres of life. The men had /have to yield and make way.

    However, biology decries that anatomically and physiologically men are men and females are female. Changes in behavioural and occupational norms have not rendered our biological differences inoperative. The attraction of a male to a female and vice-versa are natural. We dress, decorate, perfume and perform to enhance this attraction factor. ‘ Sexy’ is a new word that has crept stealthily into our vocabulary and taken hold. We even desire sexy politicians! We apply different forms of perfumes to enhance the effect of the pheromones (the hormones we naturally secrete to signal our sexual receptivity). Virile men and shapely ladies with pretty faces pervade our lives as models. We want to be ‘ sexy’ like them! The sex hormones -testosterone and estrogen- drive this sexiness.

    The Internet on the other hand has provided easy access to pornography of all sorts, even involving small children. Our movies and TV plays have sex/ sexiness, as a driving force. Alcoholism and drug intake, render us less human and subdue our conscience.

    The human species is in crisis. It does not acknowledge that it is yet part of the animal kingdom and has not transcended that platform in a biological sense. The veneer of civilization we had constructed, is under tremendous challenge without the restraints and behavioural norms we had constructed over the centuries. We have yet not constructed new norms and restraints to replace the old, which we are rapidly discarding. The humanness as we had defined it and aspired to be. is under challenge. We are a bundle of contradictions at present.

    We vaccinate ourselves against infectious diseases . However, we do not want take preventive measures against predators, that modern society cultivates. We want to be free, in an adverse environment that we ourselves have created and continue to encourage.

    Let us remember that we are yet animals wearing a very thin veneer of civilisation and develop our social and behavioural norms to suite this century. Men are men and women are women as biological entities. Both are human and equal, whilst being the same in many ways, but different in many others. Let us develop social and societal norms that will enhance our humanity within the unalterable context of biological realities.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

    Please write instead of posting links – CT

  • 1
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    The author trying to blame the education system for all this is bollocks.We all went through the same education and didn’t end up as rapists.Trying to find excuses is not good.[Edited out].Nothing like bad news travels fast and when potential rapist think of a knife slashing their crown jewels,they will find it difficult to even get an erection with the woman they are hoping to rape.If they rape and kill the woman in addition to the first punishment they should have a red hot iron rod rammed up their arse.

    Problem solved .Next problem please.

  • 0
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    OMG who’s this guy??? [Edited out].It is evident that this Fazl guy (I certainly don’t feel like calling him Mr., because he certainly is not a gentleman) is trying to rationalize his own lewd thoughts and behaviors.

    First of all rape is never the fault of the victim and the victim could be a little baby girl of one year to an old lady of 80,from a 2 year old boy to an old man of 60,it could be a girl wearing next to nothing to a nun in a habit ,clothed from head to toe. So its got nothing to do with the victim and its got everything to do with the preference of the rapist.

    Further, my thoughts would be that a person who condones rape is as much at fault as the rapist himself. So hats off to you Ms. Appuhamy ,keep up your good work you had the guts to stand up to a society with so many misconceptions of social norms and religions that we’ve completely lost humanity.

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
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    Crane snatches fish, not otherwise. Men make advances towards women, not the other way. Women flirt but it is not an offence and if a man does philandering it is punishable under law. Who framed the niceties of etiquette like the first move should be from the boy? The social media is full of impetuous hug and kiss which ended in strong relationship. How many women expect that sudden grab of a dream man and willing to lay still deny that later? A man wears a trunk and play balls, a woman stares at him who knows whether she frowns or delights at if she is modest enough not to accept that she is aroused. It is futile to justify rape in a desensitized modernity which is sheer pretence. Frankness considered too licentious as if there is subtle way of expression, then everyone should master the mind reading, lip movement, gesture, gait and body language for consent yet she may retract after everything is over. Virginity is a relative thing for permissiveness. I saw a whore in Pettah shouted scoffed at men as impotents who won’t patronize her. O tempero O mores!

  • 0
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    [Edited out] Please write instead of posting web links – CT

  • 0
    1

    Deepika, this is the result of the changes brought about by the 1977 and the post 1977 regimes.All of them brought sex to the fore in order to shift the concentration of the people from the failed economic policies introduced.

    No longer do we see educative TV programmes, what we see are Teledramas, all involving hot women and sex starved men.

    Regarding Fazi’z comments there is some truth in them, but it is wrong to blame the women for it.The Free Trade Zones created slums and prostitution.The slums are the places the women who came to work had to reside, prostitution was the result of low salaries and the high cost of living.The exposure of the body by women was the result of the conditions that they were subject to in the so called free trade zones.When they went home they carried that culture home.

    Premadasa govt by shifting the garment industry to places outside Colombo tried to correct this problem then came the Rajapakse govt which killed that industry.Today prostitution is common all over and there are enough places for the over sexed women and sex starved men to meet each other.God save any body who is not keen- they get raped.

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
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    Whether it is the internet, the neo colonial capitalist system or Tv the emotional element of our brain has been short circuited that concern for others is not a part of our pshyco any more. We are all self centred and insecure and we are only concerned obout the self need. Society has been completely disrupted best epitomised by the self seeking corrupt politicians in parliament. This unfortunately is the case. This can only be changed by a massive social revolution which is guided by the basic needs of humanity. The corrupt politicians cannot give this lead

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