The Hathras gang rape case has shaken the entire nation to its core. The victim was brutally raped, tortured and physically violated, in every sense of the word. While the accused have been arrested and the state government has ordered a SIT probe into the case, there are protests in various parts of the country.
The protesters have aimed their anger towards the government and #ResignYogiAdityanath is trending. A lot of people took to social media express their outrage over the crime. Different people had different opinions and held the government responsible for being unable to prevent the horrific act.
Though everyone is entitled to have their personal opinions on the matter and to blame whoever they hold responsible , it cannot be denied that opinions of people who are held to a certain standard and are often of a particular stature, have the ability to influence the minds of the people and the society at large. Therefore, they should be careful to express their opinions in a way that cannot be interpreted and is not derogatory to the victim of the crime or to the idea of justice.
Unfortunately, India has no shortage of instances where the statements of such influential people have raised eyebrows and gained criticism from all parts of the society. A few years ago, when the UP state legislative assembly was discussing the topic of women safety and eve teasing, a politician was quoted saying,”ladke hai, glti ho jati hai” (They are boys, mistakes happen). This statement drew a lot of flak.
Similarly, another politician blamed chow mien for creating hormonal imbalances in men which gives them the urge to commit rapes.
After the Hathras rape case, a statement by Justice Katju raised a lot of eyebrows. He posted on his social media handle, “Rape isn’t justified but it is normal to have a sexual urge as it is one of the needs and due to unemployment, a lot of people can’t get married, and have to resort to other such measures like rape for fulfilling their sexual urge. In order to completely stop rape or even reduce it, economic and social development must take place in India.”
This statement, though does not justify rape, does give an excuse for it by saying that unemployed and unmarried men resort to “such measures” to satisfy themselves. Statements like these assume that men, especially those accused of such crimes, are absolutely incapable of having any control over their emotions and urges and get carried away into such heinous acts. These statements often lead the society to lean into the idea of “men will be men” which makes it that much harder to bring about an ideological and mental change in the society at the grassroot level, with regard to the topic of women safety. Men often use these statements made by people of public prominence as their defence when they’re called out for their sexist behaviour or words, if ever.
Therefore, it is important that people and especially those who have the ability to influence the society’s thought process should be very careful with their words and think about the impact that their words might have on someone’s thought process, even if it happens subconsciously and is involuntary in nature.