The last few years have seen incidents of rape, where the BJP has stood with the rapists. This was in Kathua, Unnao or recently in Hathras. In both Kathua and Hathras incidents, the IT cell was out to prove that the incident never happened. The leaders within the BJP in both these incidents undertook activities in defence of the rapists. While in Kathua incident a rally was taken out in support of the rapists in which BJP leader participated, in Hathras incident BJP was involved in organizing a panchayat of upper caste Thakurs which was in defence of the rapists. In both these incidents, while one victim was a Muslim girl, in the other incident it was a dalit girl. In the former, BJP stood with Hindu ekta vahini and in the other it stood with upper caste Thakurs.
Rape as an act has never been a ‘moral’ and ‘ethical’ issue for Hindutva proponents. It is seen as a display of power to oppress others or use it as a revenge. In his work titled, Six glorious epochs of Indian history, Savarkar argued in favour of rape as a political tool. He criticised the Maratha ruler Shivaji for sending back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor or Kalyan, whom he defeated.
Defence of rape is closely related to socially regressive views of RSS and BJP on women. Women by RSS are considered inferior and male superior. Women are merely seen as mere instruments of Hindu rashtra, where women need to perform their gender prescribed roles. Some of the socially regressive statements have been made on women by RSS / BJP.
Vichaar Navneet by Golwalkar written for hindu men denies the independent existence of women. He calls Sita, Savitri and Padmini as ideal women. Sita and Savitri are pointed as ideal Indian women and loyal and devoted wife. The act of Jauhar is defended to protect chastity and womanhood. He considers violence and killing of women as man’s duty, if they do not fit parameters of ideal womanhood. Golwalkar opposed Hindu code bill, which sought to bring equal rights to women. He pointed that it will cause psychological upheaval to men and cause mental distress.
Mohan Bhagwat mentions that “Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes.” The day to day violence against Dalits in rural areas including the recent Hathras incident go contrary to these statements.
Bhagwat had claimed that the incidents of rape were the result of adoption of western culture in society as a whole and that erosion of traditional Indian values were more pronounced in urban areas. The recent rape incident had nothing to do with western culture. It was a mere prevalence of caste-ism and patriarchy, where dominant castes saw that it could do anything.
On marriage Bhagwat is of the opinion “A husband and wife are involved in a contract under which the husband has said that you should take care of my house and I will take care of all your needs. I will keep you safe.
So, the husband follows the contract terms. Till the time, the wife follows the contract, the husband stays with her, if the wife violates the contract, he can disown her.” Hence contrary to its supposed concern for women in triple talaq issue, disowning of women in Hinduism is supported by Bhagwat.
The Rashtriya Swayam Sevika, the womens wing of the RSS trains its sevikas in absorbing patriarchal values. In relation to wife beating, Sharda a young swayam sevika had pointed out “Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him. Only this can keep the family together.” Similarly, divorce is also a non-option for women. She says, “Our task is to keep the family together, not break it. We tell the women to adjust. Sometimes, we try counsel the husband too.”
BJP leader Vijaya Raje Scindia had pointed that “It is the fundamental right of Hindu women to commit sati, as it is in preservation of our past glory and culture”. A regressive culture is thus glorified.
The act of rebelling against violence by women is proscribed by RSS. Women need to accept violence even within or outside the system of marriage. Men are pointed as persons who should control the deviant tendencies of women and use violence if necessary and disown women.
Given the stance on rape by proponents of Hindutva and its position on women, it is not surprising they come in defence of rapists.
Jayashubha is a post graduate in Organic chemistry. She has interests in gender and social issues.