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Why I'm outraged by the CBI director's remarks

November 13, 2013 12:50 IST

Anti rape protestorsIt's not Mr Sinha's analogy (if that's what it really was) that disturbs me, but the fact that it was a completely normal thing for him to say. This is the head of the country's leading investigative organisation. What kind of opinions do the ones below him hold, asks Paloma Sharma.

'If you can't prevent rape, enjoy it.'

No ladies, that wasn't the Khap Panchayat. Those pearls of wisdom were emitted by Ranjit Sinha, Director, Central Bureau of Investigation. Now before someone cries 'Misquoted!' let's put Mr Sinha's statement into the correct context,

'If there are lotteries in states, if we can have casinos in tourist resorts and if government can declare schemes for voluntary disclosure of black money, what is the harm if we legalise betting? Above all, do we have the enforcement agencies? If you can't enforce it, it is like you can't prevent rape, enjoy it. It is better to legalise it and earn some revenue rather than throwing up your hands.'

There, there, give it a minute or two before enlightenment hits you.

However, if you still don't get it, I wouldn't blame you. You see, the logic of the high babus in big chairs with imposing desks is too hard for mere mortals to comprehend. Behind this intricate labyrinth of words lies the age-old mysticism of the East:

'She asked for it.'

                         - Confucius

Although Mr Sinha claims he merely used his comment on rape as an analogy to illustrate why it would be alright to legalise betting, one wouldn't be too surprised if the authorities wish to legalise rape itself.

Sure, betting is an act both parties enter into consensually with certain restrictions placed on them by the government while rape is, by definition, a non-consensual (d’uh) brutal crime, who cares?

It's just a couple of women, right? Its just one case of sexual assault reported every 21 minutes. Totally makes sense.

Totally.

Just a little reminder -- this is the same CBI which handled the Suryanelli Rape Case where P J Kurien went scot-free and the victim claimed harassment by the investigating agency.

A similar case was that of Bhanwari Devi, who was gang-raped by five men for stopping a child marriage from taking place in the Gurjar community. Here's what Bhanwari Devi had to say about the CBI, 'Never trust a CBI inquiry. It is very dangerous!'

It is almost hilarious that Mr Sinha was alright with legalising betting because 'above all, do we have the enforcement agencies?' and then used that as an excuse -- sorry, analogy -- to say that rape is not preventable.

The trouble with analogies is that they draw parallels. Here's what Mr Sinha's analogy seems to be saying:

Can't prevent betting because of lack of enforcement agencies, so legalise it

Can't prevent rape because of lack of enforcement agencies, so legalise it

Right.

It's almost awkward having to point out to the plaque on Mr Sinha's office door that says 'Director, Central Bureau of Investigation'. Nevertheless, I would give him the benefit of doubt considering that the Guwahati high court has questioned the validity of the CBI (and they are not the only ones).

The trouble with 'enjoying' rape, however, is that rape is an act of brute force and if there were any enjoyment involved, it would be called sex.

Mr Sinha's words do make one wonder if he and all those who serve under him are still dumbfounded by the fact that all sex is not rape and that consensual sex is something women can willingly enter into without having any other ulterior motive but pleasure.

Or is pleasure still seen as solely the man's to have? If that is the case, then is all rape considered as sex and are all women who have consensual sex considered to be asking for rape?

More importantly -- are these the people women are supposed to report sexual violence to?

The trouble with legalising rape is that the deep-rooted patriarchy of Indian culture has already beaten Mr Sinha at it. Even though there are a couple of measly laws here and there, who can stop rapists?

Rape is a very real fear for the women of India and whether the authorities would like to acknowledge it or not, sexual assault in India is more of a 'when' and not so much an 'if'.

With the exception of the handful of cases of rape and gang-rape that make it to the mainstream, which rape victim ever got swift and complete justice?

Or do we still need to set up a standing committee headed by an ex-judge to figure that out?

It is not Mr Sinha's analogy (if that is what it really was) that disturbs me, but the fact that it was a completely normal thing for him to say. This is the head of the country's leading investigative organisation. What kind of opinions do the ones below him hold? Did the December 16th protests change anything?

For once, I would like to see the likes of Mr Sinha being pulled up and held accountable for their words. At a time when civil society is fighting for politicians who have criminal cases against them (including sexual and domestic violence, and dowry) to be thrown out of Parliament, it is only fair that their beloved servants go with them.

The statement coming from the director of the CBI has raised several questions -- can women ever be safe in India? Will Ranjit Sinha apologise? Will Jaya Bachchan cry in Parliament again?

Which ever way this ends, I am glad that Mr Sinha is facing rapidly increasing public ire calling for his ouster; and since he can't prevent it, he might as well enjoy it.

Paloma Sharma is a college student in Mumbai.

Paloma Sharma