Mumbai has been featured in the news a lot lately, but not for its cosmopolitan flair, its Bollywood elite or its inexpensive street food. No, Mumbai has been in the news a lot because of a gang rape epidemic. Inevitably, at the moment of that last statement, it’s almost easy to hear the dissenters. “Why are you singling out Mumbai?” they’ll ask. “After all, gang rape happens everywhere, and you’re just trying to stereotype India.” These are actual comments that appear under articles about rape in India, along with complaints from men like “foreigners always think they have the answer, and they don’t understand our culture and…”
Blah. Blah. Blah.
There comes a time when we have to stop being afraid of criticism and start turning women into warriors, both in speech and action.
We’ve got to march into battle unafraid. We have to have the audacity to propose solutions. No more hand wringing, head shaking, cluck-clucking about how terrible it is and how India should just strengthen the laws to punish offenders; and how people who “don’t understand” shouldn’t speak out. Because while India indeed should strengthen laws to bring harsher penalties to offenders, to solve Mumbai’s-and India’s-gang rape problem, part of the burden must fall upon all women. Women everywhere have to get mad.
It’s great that a young blogger from the US recently told her story about being constantly groped while she studied in India, but to what end? Did she ever fight back? Did she ever use a stun gun on her abusers or spray them with mace? If a man put his hand on her thigh, did she silently take one of his fingers and bend it back as forcefully as she could? If not, why?
If men are going to wage war on women, then women need to be turned from victims to fighters. Let us call upon India to immediately implement mandatory self-defense classes for all girls, beginning in grade school. These classes should be taught in schools and should be for girls only. For those who are already out of school, the government should subsidize free classes through a combination of volunteers and paid instructors.
Government funding should be given to provide all women with stun guns, and women should be trained on how to use them. Similarly, all women should carry mace and kubatons. These items should be banned for men. The self-defense classes should escalate every year until women are turned into black belt level assassins. Laws should immediately be implemented to allow women to kill their attackers in self-defense with deadly force if necessary, with no ramifications.
To those who are horrified at these suggestions- your horror is deep seated sexism. To those who say this won’t do anything to solve the problem- you are wrong. Women who resist are less likely to be raped than those who do not fight back. Let’s take a look at some study results to back up this claim:
According to a paper published in the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance:
…according to one study (Zoucha-Jensen and Coyne, 1993), women who used non-forceful verbal strategies, such as crying or pleading with the assailant, were raped about 96% of the time. In the same study, women who did nothing to protect themselves were raped about 93% of the time.
Forceful verbal resistance, including yelling and loud screaming, was more effective than non-forceful verbal resistance. These strategies were associated with completion of rape from 44% – 50% of the time (Quinsey and Upfold, 1985). This study is particularly interesting because the data were collected from rapists in maximum security psychiatric hospitals, showing that forceful verbal strategies can be effective even against the violently insane…
Forceful physical resistance was an extremely successful strategy. The completed rape rate dropped to between 45% and 14% when the rapist’s attempt was met with violent physical force (Kleck and Sayles, 1990; Siegel et al., 1989; Ullman and Knight, 1992; Zoucha-Jensen and Coyne, 1993). Striking was more successful than pushing or wrestling (Quinsey and Upfold, 1985). Physical resistance also appears to be more effective when assault occurs outdoors (Quinsey and Upfold, 1985). (emphasis added by author.)
Think about that first line of the last paragraph again. “Forceful physical resistance was an extremely successful strategy.”
If forceful physical resistance is the most successful strategy to prevent rape, then what is the reason why all women in Mumbai, throughout all of India, and indeed throughout the world are not being aggressively trained to execute forceful physical resistance against rapists?
The time has come to change the status quo. Women everywhere must unite, and demand that programs are immediately implemented to train girls and women to fight back. Non-support of this idea by any woman is a reflection of her own internalized sexism.
To solve the Mumbai gang rape epidemic, train all Indian girls and women to become efficient physical fighters. Arm them with stun guns, mace and kubatons while at the same time keeping those items banned from men. If these steps are not taken, nothing will change and tomorrow will bring yet another news story about a gang rape in Mumbai. There have been self-defense classes implemented for some women in India, and that’s a great start, but those classes have to be much more widespread and must be made mandatory beginning in youth and performed through the schools-for girls only. We must raise a fuss, and be bold against the sexist rage-from men and women alike-that these suggestions will inevitably create. Will such programs, if they were to be started, solve every single case of gang rape? Probably not, but decreasing the rape rate to a possible low of 14% is much preferable to the 93-96% rape rate shown in the study for women who did not physically fight back, and those numbers are hard to argue. And, if a group of five men know the woman they’re about to rape is an armed, trained assassin, how likely are they to proceed?
By: Rebecca Savastio