Fundamentalism: When a woman has to prove her ‘purity’ by balancing a rock on her head

Published: August 16, 2015

The rape victim was asked to balance a monstrous 40 kilogram rock on her head to prove her 'purity'. PHOTO: INDIA TODAY

August 2015 fell on South Asia’s shoulders as an overbearing weight and a massive shock – as preparations for Independence Day on both sides of the Pakistan-India border were underway.

Pakistan’s largest child abuse scandal surfaced, wherein some 400 children had been victims to the perverted fantasies of sexually depraved men. There has been much debate and dissent as to what the rationale behind rape is, and everyone pretty much knows what drives a rapist to rape. What is more important to note here is the nonchalance of the police force and the deformed laws that govern the heinous crime that rape is.

From across the border, another piece of news reached us regarding a rape victim in India who was required to provide irrefutable evidence of her ‘purity’. This proof was not a DNA testing, (not) astonishingly enough; rather the requisite was the rape victim balancing a monstrous 40 kilogram rock on her head.

Passing this sanctity test, the woman would be at leisure to continue her former life with her husband – failing it, I shudder to think what would follow. Supposed to be her ‘agnipariksha’ (ordeal), the test was mandatory so as to know if the woman’s tainted honour was at fault or not. Agnipariksha, from the Ramayana, was a test that even Sita had to go through as a post-abduction concept. If Goddesses could do it, shouldn’t women be able to do it too? Because at the end of the day, ‘pure’ women are born with unspoken superpowers that enable them to lift humongous loads on their heads.

Sita undergoing the ordeal by fire watched by Rama, Laksmaṇa and Hanuman. Photo: British Museum

This is no different from the laws that deal with rape in rural Pakistan, which demand a total of four male eyewitnesses (because four men would stand by watching a woman get raped, right?) and when not provided the aforesaid, women are accused of adultery.

In short, rape victim or no rape victim, the woman has to be, somehow, at fault – for if this were not the preconceived notion, requirements such as an agnipariksha or four witnesses would not have existed. So how far exactly has religious fundamentalism in both countries gone? And is there any stopping it?

And then there is the big question mark on the credibility of the forces that are supposed to be concerned with law enforcement. It is one thing for a religiously extremist court to announce absurdities, it is totally another for the police force to not stop such barbarity. It was also in August that the Mumbai police raided a hotel, arresting 40 couples for indecent ‘public’ behaviour, while at the same time, the Delhi police refused to lodge a complaint against a man who tried to molest a girl in broad daylight. In July, a 14-year-old girl in Gujrat was denied abortion after she became pregnant from being raped.

There are countless other stories that could be put in black and white – stories that showcase the excellent crackdown of the pot-bellied police forces. While Bollywood blockbusters depict their policemen under personas of Singham, Chulbul Panday, Radhe, Rowdy Rathore, etc, reality seems far, far blurred in comparison. Reality is, in fact, so blurred and distant from the false glamour of Bollywood policemen that one cannot wonder where Bollywood gets ideas from – are there any Singhams and Chulbul Pandays in real life?

One is also led to wonder if the police force is so incompetent and devoid of their sense of duty, why are they glorified to extreme and insane levels?

In no way criticising, rather calling attention to a fundamental flaw, while India soars the skies of Silicon Valley (having produced CEOs for Microsoft and Google lately), it continues to fail its women. Not having moved on from December 2012, it is still stuck in a limbo with regards to rape and its due punishment. Why is it that consenting adults are arrested from a hotel for ‘public’ indecency while molestation in broad daylight is not considered a crime enough to lodge a complaint?

And so as both countries gleefully celebrate their independence, I end this rant with just this, how free and independent are women and children on both sides of the border – and whose job is it to keep them safe? Where is the police force? Where are the Singhams, Rathores and Pandays?

Noor Us Sabah Tauqeer

Noor Us Sabah Tauqeer

She is studying at the Department of English and doing a diploma in French, both from the University of Karachi. She's a writer and an orator, who tweets as @the_nust (twitter.com/the_nust)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anon

    ………and then Pakistanis ask why we troll in their newspapers…Recommend

  • Qiko

    “This is no different from the laws that deal with rape in rural Pakistan, which demand a total of four male eyewitnesses (because four men would stand by watching a woman get raped, right?) and when not provided the aforesaid, women are accused of adultery.”

    Utter disinfo. There’s no law in rural or urban Pakistan which says this. You have to have four witnesses to impose the Hadd punishment of zina (stoning to death for married convicts, lashes for unmarried ones). Were the raped woman to be accused of adultery, four witnesses would be required to convict her.Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    plz check ur own country’s flaws first …women in india are much much free than women in pak ……. u once come to india …..u will remove ur hijab forever …..and taste what it is like to experience freedom……Recommend

  • Shoaib Kahut

    Foolish customsRecommend

  • Indian guy

    Foolish customs indeed. And we have to get rid of them by legislating appropriate laws and implementing them. In the last century some progress has been made in India regarding this, like abolition of sati, etc. Also laws have been passed against caste/religion based discrimination, dowry, etc, but their implementation have been imperfect. Some progress made, much more work to be done.
    In the same context, it would be good for Pakistan, if it also discards some of the stupid ancient rules like the male witness for rape, divorce, polygamy, etc. It says a lot when 4 mandatory male witness for rape is a law (Hudood ordinance) in the country. While some of the laws were amended as late as in 2006, many mainstream politicians like Imran Khan opposed those amendments, which is just sad.Recommend

  • Praful R Shah

    May be you need to study Ramayana. Sati ritual started after Islam can into existence and what is unfolding today ISIS in Middle East. Muslims victors use to rape women of defeated in the blood of her husband. One does not have to go into history but this weeks news papers where ISIS chief raped American girl who was later killed. This was never tradition in Hindu culture. Irony is one does not have watch ones own hands in mirror.Recommend

  • abhi

    You think the four male witness law is only for Rural areas. Madam It is for whole pakistan.Recommend

  • Praful R Shah

    Please visit website Political Islam on YouTubeRecommend

  • Praful R Shah

    Sita stayed captive of Ravans of number years till Ravan was killed. Her purity came into question after Kalyugas. One has literate into Hunduism.Recommend

  • Ali

    Haha he has returned – is your country free of all problems that you come on here? I got news for you buddy – India is a mess. Recommend

  • Ali

    Rape is an Indian national pastime – Indian women are so afraid to report rape which is why the figures we have are completely unreliable – otherwise Indians burn their rape victimsRecommend

  • Sachin

    This diploma woman seems to be more interested in India. She must read Ramayana by herself not from the mouth of mullahs. Sita never had to prove her sanctity and 14 year old rape victim was allowed to abort. Correct your informationRecommend

  • hp kumar

    Too much bomb attacks in failed state now a days it seemsRecommend

  • Stray Reflector

    Noor us Sabah Tauqeer! The flaws are on the both side, the ignorance and barbarity still ruling the supreme.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Do you mean to say that it is in the Tulsi Ramayana,and not in Valmiki one?Recommend

  • JackZFlipper

    This is hilarious. :))Recommend

  • SH

    It is always sad to see comments from India spewing hate on Pakistan and vice versa. When an issue is raised, whether it belongs to Pakistan or India, whether it is written by an Indian or a Pakistani writer, whether it is a Pakistani writing about an issue that happened in India and vice versa, please refrain from such comments. It shows this hatred matters to you more than the issue itself. Your hateful comments and comparisons between the two nations won’t make things any better.Recommend

  • Desi Spyder

    All women, please dont go to India. This is a trap, y’all know better about their stats on rape.Recommend

  • S

    I didn’t know there were people who believed what ISIS represents 1.5 billion Muslims. If you think they do, why don’t Muslims all over the world practice the same wrongdoings or behave as viciously as them?Recommend

  • The Book Says

    I will keep this point to Hinduism and not India. Such incidents are a shame on us (followers of Hinduism). Hinduism is not a perfect religion, and has scope for improvement and BTW no other religion is perfect either (even someone says, that almighty dictated the verses and no one has right to question their authenticity). However, one thing Hinduism is good at, is absorbing the greatness from contemporary societies. It has a capacity to reform and evolve and will do it positively, same cannot be said about the “other” religion. We had many bad things and we still have some, and with time, we will shed those.Recommend

  • RFD

    Well, they could have made her balance a Fiat 500 mini car on her head.
    Better still, a little Tata car. that is made in Bharatistan. A Mini Cooper?
    An auto rickshaw? Well,…a bicycle rickshaw? A scooter?Recommend

  • RFD

    Right, absolutely ! They burn the rape victims in Hindustan.
    Soon enough, half the women will go up in smoke. Currently
    the ratio is 600 women to 1000 men in the rape capital of the
    world. See, there is female infanticide practiced widely all over
    Bharatistan….
    Hail Hindustan,..Shining Hindustan,..Modi will guide you to nirvana.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Please, it is advisable, DO NOT visit Shining India with your
    womenfolk. Very very dangerous for them.Recommend

  • RFD

    Well, see,the illiteracy rate of 1.8 billion Hindustanis is 75%
    [Don’t be taken in by those fake statistics published by Govt. of Hindustan] They have no idea what ISIS is. They are looking for
    their next meal, if not, then trying to find a toilet, IF one is available,
    with a 2 hour waiting line.Recommend

  • persona2020

    This is an ongoing effort since 1947 by Pakistanis to somehow draw parity with India. For that they will bring out cliche stereotypes about Indian society and even misinterpret Indian mythology to score a point.Recommend

  • Kushal

    Don’t know about her. But seriously thinking of balancing a fully loaded volvo bus on your head.Recommend

  • Kushal

    Please study Hudood law.Recommend

  • RFD

    Well, trouble is YOUR head would not even balance
    a Nehru topi. Made of paper. Cloth one would be too heavy.Recommend

  • ajeet

    With all the boom boom happening in Pakistan, the women there will be left without men. They can move to India and even out the ratio.Recommend

  • ajeet

    Pakistan has bigger worries than literacy, polio eradication or toilets.Recommend

  • ajeet

    Pakistanis go one step further as the abuse of children shows.Recommend

  • Qiko

    I have studied Hudood laws extensively. Every single accusation of zina, whether it’s against a man or a woman must be proven by either by thrice repeated confession of consensually engaging in Zina or by four witnesses.Recommend

  • fze

    Love you man (comments)!Recommend

  • Minerva

    What is up with Pakistanis justifying their existence by picking and choosing news from India and analyzing them based on stereotypes.

    I didnt see a single honest article in ET on the cultural and religious reasons behind Kasur child rapes. Apparently the religion of Islamic Republic of Pakistan keep women so oppressed and unattainable for men that they resort to heinous crime of ‘bachhabazi’.

    Last week a 14 yr old boy committed suicide in Punjab because he was kidnapped and gang raped for two days. Waiting for an enlightening article from ET.Recommend

  • Johnny Thorne

    Balance some bacon in their ears. It might boost their intellects.Recommend

  • Johnny Thorne

    What’s with the men in India. Are there not enough sheep and goats to go around?Recommend

  • David Clark

    It astounds me. It is 2015. I don’t care what anybody says. Not all people / cultures are equal.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Then why does Ramayna(both Tulsi and Valmiki) say it?No reason to lie,though there probably were social reasons for it.Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    if today india announces citizenship for pakis…. i can bet entire pakistan would be emptied…. such a hellhole pak is…..no one wants to live there…it is a failed state….in news all around the world it is only for horrible reasons….in foreign countries pakis call themselves indians too hide their identity as a paki and thus save themselves from the shame associated with that word paki….. paki passport as u must be knowing in the worst in world…no one gives visas to u … u r in shambles….from polio to brain eating amoeba…justpakthings… :)Recommend

  • Kushal

    yes that is why there so much IQ gap between you and usRecommend

  • Ali

    Research and report shows this problem is more widespread in India.Recommend

  • Nana

    Happy to see the handiwork of RAW funded terrorists?Recommend

  • Qiko

    Sati. From the Puranas
    we learn how Sati would not tolerate the dishonor of her husband Lord Shiva.
    Sati was the daughter of Prajapati Daksha, who was one of the sons of Brahma.
    Once Daksha arranged to hold a major religious ritual (yajna) in his
    capital, near present day Haridwar. Many kings, emperors and demigods were
    invited. However, Daksha did not respect Shiva, so Shiva was not invited.
    Nonetheless, Sati wanted to go to see her father and many sisters. Shiva tried
    to dissuade her from going, saying it was not good to go uninvited. But Sati
    went anyway to participate in the yajna. Unfortunately, she found that
    her father was greatly insulting her husband, Shiva. Not bearing the dishonor of
    her husband, she self-immolated in fire and left this world altogether, leaving
    her body in ashes.Recommend

  • RFD

    There YOU go. Typical ‘searcher’ response. YOU understand
    ‘searcher’ don’t you? A nation of 1.8 billion ‘searching’ for the
    nearest toilet. Because there are NONE. Just USE your friendly
    neighbor’s drainage ditch, coming out of his hovel, or the fields
    or the parks, or the cricket stadium, the beach…..and read
    a physics or chemistry book, while going about your business……maybe even Shakespeare?Recommend