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Into The Minds Of The Monsters We Call Rapists

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There is a general hatred in everyone’s hearts when it comes to rapists. No one tries to understand why they do what they do. We judge them for their actions without knowing the reasons behind their actions. Why? Because it is simple. Everyone has a choice for what they choose to do. They choose to do what they do. They are not held at gunpoint to rape someone. Madhumita Pandey, for her doctoral thesis in criminology from Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom, was only 22 when she visited the Tihar Jail in Delhi to talk to the inmates charged with rape. In the past three years, she has interviewed over 100 rapists and has gotten a better perspective.

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The stigma against rape has been instilled into our minds since a long time. The rapists have been looked down upon with disgust. The movement against rape started with the Delhi rape case in 2013, when a woman now known as ‘Nirbhaya’, fearless, was gangraped and murdered. She was on her way from a movie with a friend when she was attacked. Had it not been for that incident, she would have gone on to become a doctor. The incident stuck a nerve among Indians and the stance against rape strengthened in the minds of people. According to the most recent reports, nearly 35,000 women are raped in a year in India. The number may be a lot higher but the reported cases approach that figure.

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Madhumita Pandey is a native of Delhi and she was shocked by the incident too. For the first time in her life, she began to see her city differently. The protests against rape prompted to ask the questions too. She wondered why the ‘Monsters’ do what they do. And she decided to ask them directly and began with the inmates in Tihar Jail. Most of the inmates that she met were uneducated or dropouts from third or fourth grade. Only a few of them were graduates from a high school. She began her research with the mindset just like anyone else, believing them to be monsters. However, once she began to question them about the motives, a realization dawned upon her that there was nothing extraordinary about the men and they were just ordinary folks.

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The main reason of their actions was their upbringing and the mindset they have grown up with. Indian society may talk a lot about equality and feminism but it is still a patriarchal society to some extent. No matter how educated a family might be, women are mostly bound to their traditional roles. It is a prevalent custom in our society that a woman never calls her husband by name and always uses the words ‘sunte ho’ or ‘suno’. Some women even call their husbands by calling them as the father of their children, ‘Bittu ke papa’ for example. Men learn to be dominant while the woman learn to be submissive, all in the same household.

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After talking to the prisoners, Madhumati started to feel sorry for them. Most of the things they talked about reflected in her own household as well. She realised that the rapists are also a part of our society and not aliens from some other planet. Many of the men convicted of rape did not even realise that what they did was wrong because they have never been introduced to the idea of consent. After all, we live in a country where speaking about sex is considered a taboo. Sex education is not taught in many schools as it is believed to corrupt the minds and values of youngsters.

Madhumita wishes to publish her work but faces hostility as her work would only be seen as a work of a feminist misrepresenting the ideas of men. To see the change, we must bring it ourselves within ourselves.

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