Checking Rape: Banning Alcohol and Commercial Sex the First Requisites

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People participate in a protest rally against rape and violence against women on the 1st anniversary of Nirbhaya Gangrape in New Delhi. — IANS file

With tens of millions of deaths taking place around the world due to practices banned as Haram by Islam, it is time the world looked at Islam as a system rather than as a religion. Those who do not accept Islam as a religion can take advantage of its three dimensional system — of fundamental rights, fundamental duties and fundamental prohibition to ensure a healthier and more peaceful society.

Dr Javed Jamil | Caravan Daily

NEW YEAR celebrations were postponed in many places across the country at the turn of year 2012 as India was in no mood for a celebration in the wake of the fatal and brutal gangrape of Nirbhaya. Seven years later, another New Year is approaching, and another Nirbhaya in the form of “Disha” has been raped and killed in a similar fashion. In between, there have been large numbers of rapes and related murders across the country.

One assessment is that more than 200,000 women have been raped in these seven years.  Given the kind of solutions being presented in public discourses via the media, there is an imminent threat of another 200,000 innocent women facing such a situation in the next seven years. Reasons for such a worrisome scenario is not far to seek. We are living in a market-driven world. Feminism that has engulfed the global psyche is also largely corporate-driven. As a result, the solutions that are being presented and applied will also be largely in conformity with the requirements of the market. This is both a pitiable and scary scenario.

For over 20 years, I have been speaking and writing extensively againt the trend of commercialization of human susceptibilities — particularly alcohol, gambling and commercial sex. I have often felt frustrated why these issues do not bother even those whose religious consciousness views these vices as “prohibited” fare. I am piqued even more now because not even the mass protests against the latest rape appear to have attracted little attention or debate on the real factors that encourage sex-related crimes.

The whole issue has unfortunately been given a man-woman twist, as if only crimes against women are on the rise and all other crimes have disappeared. Rather, three factors that have been completely sidetracked are: 1. The failure of judicial system at the global level to effectively intervene and put in place systems to check such crimes in future; 2. The large-scale commercialization of sex and its destructive effects; and (3) the relationship between rapes and alcohol/drugs.

We are living in a world where the more advanced and extensive the judicial system in a country, the more horrendous the crime statistics. This is true of all the developed countries including the US, Europe and Australia. In all these countries, the Fear of God and Fear of Law have become too weak to guard against such crimes. Thanks to the rise of the liberal world order, the judicial system has not only been catering to the needs of the forces of globalization but it has also become a money-spinner. This makes people engaged in the system rich without delivering what it is supposed to. Despite the horrible failure of the judicial system, there is no dearth of people showering praise on these systems.

No wonder, then, that rapes are becoming increasingly common throughout the world. Western countries including the USA, UK, France and Australia occupy top slots in the rate of rapes year on year. More than once a minute, 78 times an hour and 1,871 times a day, girls and women in America are raped as per available statistics. In a year, thus, more than 90,000 women are raped there. India with its mix of Westernized legal systems and fast westernizing socio-economic system is also becoming increasingly a criminal society. If awareness and education had been enough to arrest such trends, as the media debates seem to suggest, there would have been hardy any rape in Western countries. By contrast, if rapes are relatively rare somewhere, these are the countries where Islamic legal and social systems prevail.

Sex has become the pivot on which the wheel of world economy revolves. The commercial enterprises want men and women together everywhere to keep their wheel rolling, but this happens without the state apparatus caring much for the women’s security. They are busy in publishing reports that prostitution and pornography have a depressing effect on the spurt in incidence of rapes, as if prostitution and pornography are no crimes themselves. I have seen people arguing for hours to prove that eve-teasing is a bigger crime than rape, prostitution and promiscuity. I don’t blame them because this is the kind of ideological brainwash they are subjected to by the media.

ALCOHOL AND CRIME

As is the case with the majority of murders, rapes, accidents and other crimes, alcohol also plays a major role in encouraging such crimes. It is well-known that alcohol increases the risk of unhealthy sexual behaviour. Studies of AIDS in countries such as Thailand indicate that alcohol consumption influenced many dimensions of sexual conduct and behaviour. One such study, which included students, soldiers and clerks revealed that heavy drinking increased the urge for sexual intercourse and visits prostitutes while it decreased the urge for use of preventive aids like condom in sexual encounters with sex workers (VanLandingham and others, 1993). Another report says:

“The relationship between drinking and HIV risk behaviours, such as visiting commercial sex workers or having sex without condoms, is not one of simple causality. It has been argued that drinking behaviour co-occurs with other dangerous factors; such risk-taking includes beverages made from sugar cane alcohol and agaves, such as mescal and sotol. Aguardiente means “burning water” (Aledina-Mora, 1999).”

Here are some of the findings of reports on the relationship between rapes and alcohol: Alcohol use is frequently associated with acquaintance rape; some 26 per cent of men who acknowledged having committed sexual assault admitted that they were intoxicated at the time of the assault, and an additional 29 per cent reported being mildly buzzed — 55 per cent were under the influence of alcohol. In the same study, 21 per cent of college women who experienced sexual aggression on a date were intoxicated at the time of the assault, and an additional 32 per cent reported being mildly buzzed — while 53 per cent were under the influence of alcohol.

The ill effect of alcohol can also be seen in the case of child abuses. The National Incidence of Child Abuse and Neglect reported: “There is certainly a reason to suppose the number of cases of actual abuse might be rising, since child abuse could be expected to rise when drug and alcohol abuse were increasing and when broken homes were becoming more complex.”

ALCOHOL, MEN

A report sums up the effects of alcohol on men and women in terms of their sexual behavior thus: “Men expect to feel more powerful, sexual and aggressive after consuming alcohol. Expectancies have power of their own, independent of any genuine physiological processes. When people expect a certain outcome, they tend to act in ways that enhance the likelihood that the outcome will occur. For example, if a man feels powerful and strong after drinking alcohol, then he is more likely to assert his viewpoints forcefully and to end up in a verbal or physical argument. Studies show that men who think they have been drinking alcohol (whether or not they really have) feel sexually aroused and are more responsive to erotic stimuli and rape scenarios.”

“Many studies show that men are more likely than women to interpret a variety of verbal and nonverbal cues as evidence that a woman is interested in having sex with a man. For example, males were more likely than females to rate revealing clothing, secluded date locations such as his room or the beach, drinking alcohol, complimenting a date, and tickling a date as more indicative of a desire to have sexual intercourse.”

“The tradition of female reluctance and male persistence makes it easy for men to ignore the woman’s “no” and force sex on a genuinely unwilling partner. Both the man and the woman might not view this situation as rape. But if sex occurred without verbal consent, or if force was used to obtain sex against the woman’s will, then what happened is legally defined as rape.

Alcohol consumption by men is likely to enhance the likelihood that misperception will occur and lead to sexual assault. For example, for some men going out on a date or going to a party includes an initial hypothesis that sex will occur. Drinking alcohol may cause men to interpret or reinterpret a woman’s behaviour as a sign of her desire to have sex with him-in a way that fits his initial hypothesis. And he will ignore what she is doing or saying that shows that she is not interested in sex. If a man starts out on a date thinking, “I’m going to have sex,” he is starting out with a hypothesis that doesn’t take the other person into account. It is a rape mentality.”

ALCOHOL, WOMEN

The same report also describes the effects of alcohol on women: “Alcohol consumption may cause women to ignore or miss cues that suggest an assault is likely. It may keep a woman from realizing that her friendly behavior is being perceived as seduction. (Research studies have shown that men are inclined to misperceive a woman’s friendliness as a sign of sexual interest.) Drinking may keep a woman from noticing a man’s attempts to get her into an isolated location or his encouragement to drink even more. Alcohol consumption may also decrease the likelihood that women can successfully resist an assault, either verbally or physically.”

“Men frequently feel justified in forcing sex on women who, they believe, have been leading them on or are being sexual teases. Legally sexual provocation, whether intentional or not, is not justification for rape; sex with someone unable to give consent (e.g. drunk) is also rape.”

“There are many stereotypes about women who drink alcohol. One common belief is that women who drink alcohol are more sexually available than women who do not drink. The results of one study showed that a woman who had a few alcoholic drinks was viewed as more likely than a woman who drank only soft drinks to respond positively to a sexual advance, as more willing to be seduced, and as more likely to engage in sexual intercourse. Another study showed that men were more likely than women to assume that a woman who drank alcohol with her date was interested in having sex with him. Forty percent of the men who took part in this study felt that it was acceptable to force sex on a drunk date. In a different study 75 percent of a group of acknowledged date rapists said that they sometimes got women drunk in order to increase the likelihood of having sex with them. Many date rape victims report that their attacker fed them drinks for several hours before the attack.”

“Women who were drunk when raped are often viewed by others as partially responsible for what happened. Interviews with a group of college students showed that the male attacker was held less responsible for the rape when he was intoxicated than he was when he was reported as being sober. In contrast, the female victim was held more responsible when she was intoxicated than when she was reported as being sober. Thus, in terms of how others will perceive their behavior, the costs of intoxication are higher for college women than for college men.”

Alcohol remains the most commonly used date rape drug, being readily available as well as legal, and is said to be used in the majority of sexual assaults. Many assailants use alcohol because their victims often willingly imbibe it, and can be encouraged to drink enough to lose inhibitions or consciousness. Sex with an unconscious victim is considered rape in most, if not all jurisdictions, and some assailants have committed “rapes of convenience” whereby they have assaulted a victim after he or she had become unconscious from drinking too much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_rape_drug

However, in the typical Western style, the emphasis in all such writings has been not on curbing drinking habits but on insisting that drinking of women do not absolve the rapist of his crime. An article by Jaclyn Friedman (We News commentator) says: “Blasting women with warnings about getting drunk in public does little to help them and sidesteps men’s responsibility for sexual assault, writes Jaclyn Friedman. She advocates three steps that could be more effective.”

“(WOMENSENEWS)–In 1992, while I was an undergraduate, I was raped by a fellow student while we were both drunk. He was not a date. I didn’t even like him when we were sober. But we were at a party together, a party at which I tried too hard to “keep up” with my friends in the alcohol department and wound up far more drunk than I wanted to be. So I went back to my room. And he followed me. And then he raped me.

Looking back, I can imagine a number of social or institutional interventions which might have helped prevent this attack from happening. But none of them includes the approach that so many articles on this subject take, which is to “raise awareness” among young women that getting drunk in public puts them at greater risk of exploitation and sexual assault.

Why is this an impotent approach? For all the same reasons abstinence-only education does nothing to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (and may even contribute to it).

Very few people of any age or gender go out and drink enough to get drunk thinking it’s a responsible thing to do. However true it may be that it’s safer not to get drunk (approximately 70 percent of rapes among college students involve alcohol or drug use), it’s not like young women don’t already hear about the risks from parents, college administrations, the nightly news, or any of the 25 “CSI” or “Law and Order” clones on TV.”

While there is no reason why the act of a rapist should be condoned on account of the vulnerability of his victim due to one or other factor, including alcohol, there is no reason why a campaign against alcohol should not accompany the campaign against rape. It may be argued that in India’s case, those are mainly the rapists who are under the effect of alcohol; and women in most cases are not inebriated. But this gives even a greater reason why all the activists campaigning against rapes, particularly women, must wage a simultaneous war against alcohol and drugs.

In the final analysis, three important elements have to be recognized in any drive against rapes: 1. In order to control rapes, such acts should be seen as one of the most heinous crimes at par with cold-blooded murders. All serious crimes including murder and rapes are on the rise. If this situation has to change, we will have to adopt a different legal ideology which haunts the criminals and adequately punishes them. The old dictum that “Ten criminals can be freed but one innocent should not be hanged” is nothing but an excuse for saving the criminals. Instead of inferring things from individual cases and suggesting remedies, what is important is that the net effect has to be ensured.

The commercialization of sex and nakedness has no place in a civilized society. There should be a concerted campaign against them and against all its ramifications. Provocations of all kinds have to be stopped if the aim is to make a serious difference to the present grim scenario.

There should be a campaign against all the factors that lead to crimes including rape; neglecting any one of these factors will have disastrous consequences. Alcohol in particular needs special attention. Moral empowerment of society is required if civilized behavior is to be ensured.

Comprehensiveness is the key to any planning, and this is required also in dealing with crimes including rape.

EFFECT A TOTAL ban on alcohol, incidents of rapes will be largely reduced. Ban commercialization of sex, the better. There could be a near-end to such situations. Give death penalty to rapists, the incidents will more or less stop. The modern trends in feminization of women are corporate driven. The more the women remain outside their homes, the more the markets will flourish. Giving freedom to women in public places without providing them the required security would be a disaster. When some ghastly rape incident is reported, the solutions presented thereon are what enthuses the corporate world.

With tens of millions of deaths taking place around the world due to practices banned as Haram by Islam, it is time the world looked at Islam as a system rather than as a religion. Those who do not accept Islam as a religion can take advantage of its three dimensional system — of fundamental rights, fundamental duties and fundamental prohibition to ensure a healthier and more peaceful society.

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Dr Javed Jamil is an eminent Islamic scholar and author.

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