When did rape become the cure to homosexuality, India?

Published: June 5, 2015
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A schoolgirl holds a placard during a prayer meeting for a five-year-old rape victim in Jammu April 20, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

If you thought burning women, throwing acid on their faces, bombing their schools, shooting them for going to school, cutting their noses, shaving their heads, marrying them off to holy texts or animals/cattle, selling them into sex slavery or cutting their genitals off wasn’t bad enough when it came to violence against women, here is a brand new way of oppressing women and cementing patriarchy into its place.

In India’s Telengana state, men who were ‘suffering from homosexuality’ are given a corrective measure. That measure is rape.

Instances where cousins are betrothed from infancy/childhood/youth and if the male counterpart turns out to be ‘queer’ when he grows up, these men are told to force themselves upon their intended in order to ‘cure’ them of their homosexuality.

In our cultures, we see quite commonly that the measure of a ‘man’ or his ‘machismo’ is just how much he is able to dominate other people, especially his wife/female family members. The louder he talks, the more sense he makes. The more everyone listens to him, regardless of how much sense he makes, the bigger of a patriarch he is. No surprise therefore that in order to prove that he is a macho man, and not some effeminate ‘queer’ – a strange misconception, since many homosexuals are very much masculine – he is asked to show his force sexually.

Psychologically speaking, rape is more about power than sex. It is more about exerting control over another human being or feeling dominating rather than simply getting sexual release. There are many cases where rapists are sexually satisfied in their relationships or otherwise, but choose to rape (prostitutes, wives, girlfriends) because it is either a challenge, a threat to their manhood/power or a question of control.

That is one way of looking at this heinous practice – that men are being told to be ‘men’ in order to consummate their marriages and become ‘normal’ by forcing themselves on their betrothed. Another, albeit related, perspective is that women are objects. They are considered so subhuman that the fact that something as humiliating, painful and violating as rape is not considered a problem at all.

There are many societies that consider marital rape as acceptable, because once a woman is married to the man on paper or in the eyes of society, she is henceforth his property. He can treat her whichever way he so pleases. In a similar manner, a woman in a retrogressive society such as that of Telangana can be considered yet another object. She is not a human being for whom rape is a trauma – rather she is an ‘it’ upon which any or all experiments are allowed in order to cure homosexuality or any other ‘disease’ that comes to the mind.

Misogyny is not a local problem. Corrective rape is a terrifying act that occurs in not just India but across the globe. There have been reports of corrective rape in Thailand, South Africa, Ecuador and Uganda. In these countries, women who are ‘queer’ are raped repeatedly until they fall pregnant and are then forced to marry their rapists.

Whether or not society approves or disapproves of homosexuality, the idea of ‘curing’ it with corrective rape is beyond reprehensible. It institutionalises and establishes violence against women and marginalises a community. The more human rights’ group raise awareness and protest against this horrific practice the better.

Mahwash.Badar.

Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

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