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KANAGA Maria Arokiam, New Delhi says,
Rape and Male Inferiority Complex
By Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga SDB
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New Delhi, Jan. 9. Living with clearly contradictory values seems to come natural for Indian society. Corruption and religion can coexist peacefully. Ritual purity and abominable physical dirt can live together. We are one nation, while every State and language group derides and often hates the other. We can claim to honour women, killing her with the very idea of honour that we impose on her! We can enslave and exploit our children and claim that they are our future! We can be utterly sexual in mind and body and claim that modesty is our national virtue!

One wonders whether being a woman is itself a matter of shame in India. If not, why then is there so much of female infanticide and female illiteracy? Dowry is a system in which a woman has to pay a man in order to serve him and to hand over to him absolute sexual rights over her! A man honours a woman by merely marrying her! A woman has no such claim. It is the husband who gives ``life`` to the wife, and not the other way about! When a man dies his wife has no more meaningful existence. It is a shame to be a widow! For a man to live without a wife is heroism! A woman`s economic independence is a threat to the man. So the wife is either prohibited from working, and if she works, he should have the control over her money!

Indian culture, among many merits, has two fundamentally flawed beliefs that will never permit our country to become a superpower in the world. What will happen is that some part of Indian society will become super-powerful to the detriment of other parts of our society that will be condemned to remain super-weak! The two basic beliefs are: 1. That human beings are not born equal; rather, by birth and by Divine ordinance some are superior to others. This is the caste system, the unique contribution of India to world culture. 2. The only purpose of a woman in life is to serve her man in every way possible. Men and women do not have basically an equal value! These two virulent forms of cancer are eating up the Indian society, dashing all hopes of becoming a superpower in any real sense!

I wonder what could be the basic reason for this appalling cultural mindset in India and the surrounding countries? My answer is that our caste system has produced a deep-seated inferiority complex in us. Most Indians have someone else claiming to be superior to them by nature, and this claim is surprisingly accepted without challenge.  To assuage this complex they need to claim that some others are inferior to them. The next group does the same. It is thus that we have thousands of castes and sub-castes in India, a virtual labyrinth where one is bound to hate another. In any case, men have at least their women over whom they can claim superiority, if not over anyone else! That she is physically weaker than him is an added advantage. She is often the only one on whom a man in India is often able to assert his power and prowess and feel like a king! The husband is raised to the level almost of God, an absolute Lord with rights over the life and death of the woman! How many of our stories reinforce this idea, and teach women that their only purpose in life is to be subject to the man! They too slowly fall victim to this culture of oppression, and often exercise their superiority over other women. This is the psychological and cultural foundation for the time-tested enmity between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law! Their fight is basically to ``own`` their only overlord, the man!

So, rape is natural! It is wide-spread in Indian homes, both by the husbands and sometimes by other male family members. When it is by the husband, no one even considers it an issue. It is another way in which the man once again establishes his superiority over the woman. He has the rights, and she does not. When it is by others, it is a shame for the woman to reveal it. So we land easily in the most despicable practices like forcing a woman to marry her rapist!

We could go on analysing the problem. It is not that every Indian male is like this, but this seems to be the prevalent cultural mindset, and it has been so for millennia! It is natural for men to be frightened of women`s emancipation taking place here and there in India today. Men have to come to terms with this terrible inferiority complex they suffer. Joint violence of several men on a single woman, often called ``gang rape`` in an ugly manner, is the apex of this frightful complex. It is an attempt to even establish one`s male valour in front of other men! Even animals do not have such a need! Another clear sign of this complex is that many Indian males cannot take a ``no`` from a girl. When a girl says no to a love affair, she is often attacked. How could she say ``no`` to a man? Just because he wants a girl, she has to say yes! Hence it all comes back again to the man. The suffering victims are women. But the hopeless, incurable disease is of men, afflicted with a pathetic inferiority complex out of which they seek myriad desperate ways to exit.

Recognizing this problem is the first step to a cure. Women and men need equality in India, not sympathy, or sporadic protection. An urgent war has to be waged on our culture itself. In our educational institutions, temples, mosques, churches and media houses, we must relentlessly promote equality of human beings. Man is honoured in respecting women. It is shameful for a man to prove his superiority over a woman who is physically and socially weaker. Men and women are made to love each other, not to be involved in a self-destructive war of superiority and inferiority! For this, we will have to use a little more our reason and a little less our beliefs, or to put it rightly, our superstitions!

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KANAGA Maria Arokiam(New Delhi) makanaga@gmail.com
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