19, Male, Indian and Not A Rapist

Painting by Gabriel Isak

Painting by Gabriel Isak

On a typical web forum on a typical night a man posts a message saying women are being given too much say and freedom, which is directly injuring the male fraternity.

Next, the forum erupts into an argument, a hate spat where people condemn this view and his ill-mannered, out-of-context remarks about men and women. The community hates what he says and criticizes his upbringing in India.

Then, people from other countries start throwing stones, saying that India would be the country coming up with such views given the illiteracy, the fact that women aren’t given nearly as much respect as a pig and that the men don’t believe in equal rights.

People throw in articles showing how unsafe it is to be a woman in India. They say they’d rather stay in the U.S. because given all their problems – at least they won’t be harassed like Indian women.

Finally, the offending man’s mother comes under fire, with commentators saying that only a housewife could raise such a man.

At some point I stopped reading, but it made me sad how the argument went from being one-on-one, to being the world against India.

I absolutely disagree with the Indian guy’s comments on women and his assertion that men need more of a voice. I would never defend him, but at the same time, to all those people who said that his views represent those of his country, I’m sorry, but this is a letter to you.

My motherland has been publicized as: a third world country, a rising superpower, a sleeping giant, an oppressor of women and a disgrace to all living things.

Like the 1.252 billion people here, I am my country. I am the good, the bad and the ugly. The country lives and breathes inside me as She does in all my fellow beings.

I am not disillusioned. I have seen my people raping and showing no remorse about it. I have seen those vilifying women, as if they had a carnal right to do so, as if it gave them pleasure in seeing her beg and plead in front of them, as if that was the blood that gave them life.

Still, I am 19, Male, India and not a rapist.

I haven’t raped a woman. I haven’t touched her when she didn’t want me to and I haven’t used her body against her will. I don’t confuse women with objects and I haven’t thrown around statements about how I want women to be lower than me.

Instead, I have walked with thousands praying for victims; I have attended marches; I have been to memorials, remembering those who were devoured by these countrymen of mine and I have supported campaigns trying to rid the nation of such evils.

And yet, I am an Indian. I am from the same country as these women-hunters. I am one of them, am I not? Because I will always remain a brown skinned human from Asia – or as the media likes to label us: a terrorist and rapist.

People of the world, especially that woman from the U.S. who said that she was proud to be there and not here, because at least she would not be harassed, here is a statistic for you:

If you google “Top Countries with highest rape percentage”, you will know that reality tastes bitter, like dark chocolate, the color of our skins. The top hit, Wonderslist, lists the top 10 countries and India is shamefully in 5th place. The disgrace is all ours. The disgrace is mine because I am my country. But your country is 3rd. The statistics show that every 1 in 6 women have been raped. By the way, if you’re wondering, England and Wales are 4th.

I am not here to argue about 3rd, 4th and 5th place in rape culture. I am here to tell you the problem with our mindsets.

The problem is that there is a growing misconception that India and her subcontinent are persistently gnawing away at the rights of women. Yes, we have had a long running tradition of women being housewives and serving the family by taking care of the children. But slowly and surely that is changing. Yes, rural India is still somewhat in that dark about these changes but tectonic shifts don’t occur over night. Come to Indian metros, come to our cities and you will find your prejudices unfounded.

My mom works for the Indian Government. My grandma was a headmistress. I have not seen discrimination in my family. But then, in this case, I am not my country. I am an individual and I don’t define the country, do I? I am my country only when we are talking of scandals, only when the tabloids can run the rumor mill.

See, that is the truth of the situation. You accept me as a representation of India when I say my country has rapists but not when I say that I don’t see discrimination in my family.

I do not ask for much. I know where the fault-lines are. I am an Indian and like the billions of Indians out there, I do not support rape culture. I am all for equal rights for women. I want a free country where people aren’t hurt and abused. I don’t want the country to be run by power-hungry egomaniacs. And, I don’t want people sitting all over the world looking at me and wondering if it is safe for them to invite me into their homes just because I call a certain place home and my skin color resembles the monsters that they’ve seen on television.

Because in that case, as the statistics have shown, I should be more afraid of the people who have white-skins because evidently and you can hate me for saying this, they rape more.

I wish the world wouldn’t judge us sitting seven seas away. Every land has problems and that is a given. But when you come to question my integrity and that of my motherland, I can tell you, loud and clear like the goosebumps on the back of my neck as I write this, that no matter what, I love my motherland for all it has done for me.

In the end, if you believe that one person’s liberal thoughts do not mean the entire country is liberal, I accept that. But you’ll have to accept that one rapist doesn’t mean the entire country hates women.

Sayan Sen is a 19-year-old from Kolkata, India, with a deep affection for puns and football. Currently pursuing Electrical Engineering, he loves poetry and loses his heart to all those who offer him food. He makes homes out of quotes and never says no to stargazing and 3 A.M heart-talks.

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