So the Khap says, “Boys and girls should be married by the time they turn sixteen years old, so that they do not stray … this will decrease the incidents of rape.”
Now, if you were having a tough time understanding how getting people married will decrease incidents of rape, here is the underlying message of the Khap.
What the Khap is trying to say here is that once children attain puberty they get curious about their bodies and thus would want to explore. True enough. However, the Khap has a magic solution to the ‘problem’—marry them off young. What even the wisest of those old minds cannot think of is that there is no need of a solution because there is no problem. What there is a need of is a safety measure, a tool — sex education. And a major part of sex education is to teach people that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’; that ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes,’ and resistance does not mean ‘playing hard to get’.
However, what is funny about the Indian society is that we cannot talk to our 16-year-olds or let them be anywhere near sex education, but we could let them have sex by getting them married as young as possible.
The second thing the Khap wants to say when it claims that marriages will decrease incidents of rape is that a man who does not have access to regular sex would want to and would eventually end up raping a woman to meet his sexual needs. Therefore, according to the Khap, the solution is to get that man married so that he does not have to look for sex or, in other words, rape other women; so that his wife becomes his everyday sex object.
Another thing that the Khap is saying (and which is a slap in the face of all the good men out there) is that men are animals without a control over their desires. So one cannot guarantee the conduct of an unmarried man the moment he steps out of his house and therefore, the right thing to do would be to put a woman in his house so that he would restrain from raping other women or other men’s wives.
Wouldn’t this mean that you are getting a ‘potential rapist’ married to a girl who, if the Khap has its way, is likely to be as young as 16? 16-year-olds exploring their bodies is wrong but the possibility of a 40-year-old getting a child bride isn’t? In a country like India, where marital rape is not even considered rape, marriage is not really a solution.
Also, if the Khap is under the impression that a married woman is ‘vaccinated’ against rape by someone who is not her husband, then just to blow the Khap’s bubble of ignorance, rapists do not care about the marital status of their victims.
These days a popular response by some people to the increase in the incidence of rape is to make prostitution legal. In other words, what they are trying to say is that men are entitled to having sex and the state should ensure a legal partner for him in the form of a wife or a sex worker; which would also mean that because the sex worker is out there for the man’s pleasure, she cannot exercise her human rights. No wonder even in the countries where prostitution is legal, abuse of a sex worker is rarely taken seriously given her profession.
What is important to observe here is that marriage or any other such ‘solution’ is not for the protection of women against potential rape. These ‘solutions’ are excuses and justifications for the notion that certain men will behave a certain way and that women should be covered up, locked up, pushed, dictated, and silenced.
The unmarried men in Haryana must be having a fun time watching how the Khap and the society are on their side, making their sex life easy just like all the rapists across the country who have been having a fun time for long watching how the society advocates for them by blaming the girl for being raped and shaming not the criminal or the crime but the victim and her family.
[Views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent Jamia Journal’s editorial policy.]