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A man who imposes sexual activity on a woman without any indication that she is attracted to him, in the face of blunt refusals or knowing that she definitely does not like him, is a rapist. But without this explicit clarity, there are a lot of grey areas where men and women can communicate very differently and a lack of consent is not very clear. It isn't as simple as saying a no is a no.

While we are willing to accept a victim coming in with an accusation of rape much after an incident she reluctantly consented to in has happened, we are less tolerant about the ability of the man who must judge in the heat of the moment to determine whether the refusal is something that will resolve with persuasion or violate. And the sensitivity of men differs wildly, much of it determined by individual life experiences - we do little to help men learn.

It is an age old debate - how much no is no when it comes to sex. There is a side that thinks all "No" is a dead end. There is another that pretty much refuses to recognize any form of "No" as being an actual refusal. Neither are practical. As always, the more adamant force is applied to a process, the less there is sensitivity to nuance. It isn't enough to simply dump responsibility for changing a status quo on one side of a difference. Particularly when that side is less vulnerable to the problem to begin with.

There are many shades of "No". To me, for someone to be called a "rapist" an important condition is that the alleged rapist must know that the other person does not want them - particularly in cases where consent has been implied till that point.

Consent is a grey area traditionally

Asking for anything is culturally stigmatized. Someone asks you if you want tea, you are conditioned to refuse. This is a relatively minor thing. But you are taught that politeness means you don't outright accept something you desire. The more intimate and high stakes your desire, the closer you play your cards to your chest.

For many "traditional" people, by the time a relationship is ready for sex, the moment for consent has long passed, because any physical touch already is consent in a society not given to casual physical touch between genders.

When a woman says No, she doesn't always mean it

Now consider the conditioning women go through all their lives, where a woman who is eager for sex is seen as someone less respectable. There are few women or even men who would outright agree to sex, even while they are giving all kinds of green signals otherwise. Remaining available, participating in increasing contact, "accidental" contact, remaining accessible for sexual contact - and even pretending to be surprised if it happens, till the elephant of increasingly intimate contact cannot be looked around - are all normal happenings in courtship.

People pretend accidental contact that they can back off from if the other person doesn't seem receptive rather than outright ask for sex. Rather than come across as forward or risk a refusal, they simply initiate and see where it goes. Because here is the thing, we also see asking for sex as inappropriate if it gets refused. Men become creeps, women become sluts.

And this is culturally accepted and immortalized. "Jaane do na. Paas aao na" is a sexy song that gave many men sleepless nights when the film Sagar released.

The whole duet is spent with Rishi Kapoor asking Dimple Kapadia to come closer and her refusing all the way. She refuses. Says don't touch me. I can't do these things, etc. It is actually a romantic song where both of them are attracted and in fact gave men an education on what an aroused woman looks like before the age of the internet! The film Sagar would be vastly different if Dimple Kapadia later realized Rishi Kapoor was a lousy lover and remembered that she'd been second thoughts all through and in fact, refusing. It would take an exceptionally sex-illiterate person to conclude a lack of consent from that song. And if Rishi Kapoor took those refusals at face value and didn't proceed, that would be one hot, frustrated woman there and Kamal Haasan would be one happy man. Never really understood what she saw in Rishi Kapoor with super sexy Kamal Haasan there for her.

This song is actually quite realistic among the masses, where there is a lot of intimacy that goes on under the cover of normalcy or even expressed disinterest without actual prevention till the relationship reaches a point of inevitability. It is vulnerability in a judgmental world. It is hard to talk about budding feelings in the bright light of day. Not many can do it. I doubt if even among the feminists there would be very many who can claim to have explicitly spoken of attraction and a desire to initiate a sexual relationship before intimacy.

Is it wrong? Only if you think communication is strictly verbal. But there are fifty kinds of non-verbal signals that are freely given. Spending more time exclusively with someone, standing closer to them than others, casual affectionate physical touch not shared with others... it all communicates consent in a language beyond words and paves the way for more.

But there are far more mundane reasons for blurred consent. Refusals that have nothing to do with sexual willingness, but are related to other factors - for example, tired - which often change with seduction. Or a risk of discovery - which can change a refusal into flat out excitement for some, depending on how aroused they are. They can also be deeply distressing, even with a regular and beloved partner if a woman does not find the risk of discovery exciting.

Whether to persuade and get a phenomenally hot sexual experience or to respect an area of discomfort? This needs education on sensitivity and communication that cannot be plastered over with "no is no".

Traditional and biological sexual factors add confusion

Then there is a further complication. Sexually, men often enjoy the "chase" and women often enjoy being overruled on consent - when they feel safe. That men enjoy the chase shouldn't be that hard to infer from the very troublesome manifestation of sexual harassment. It is predatory behavior. The harassment is where women are clearly not on the same page - because women do require to establish trust and a catcall or grope isn't exactly it. There are a few women who feel flattered by catcalls even if they would not admit it openly. The feeling of being publicly desirable. They often are also those who place high value on male approval overall. While they may not openly enjoy it, you can get that insight in indirect ways - for example when they speak of disparage women as someone who wouldn't turn heads or wouldn't be harassed or molested or raped because they aren't attractive, etc. Where they clearly see unsolicited approaches as a mark of desirability, even though respectability demands that they cannot be known to enjoy it.

I once knew a girl nicknamed Sexy in our friends circle and while she acted all protesting about a nickname that sounded like a sleazy catcall, she would be the one to tell people who didn't know what her nickname was!

There is also a fundamental difference in how men and women interpret intimate conversations that create misunderstandings. Men generally do not speak of intimate physical experiences with the ease women do. Just look at the number of open discussions about menstruation or female sexuality on social media and compare them with how many times you have seen men talk about their penises at all. Men reserve personal talk to extremely confidential relationships - if they talk about intimate issues at all. An intimate subject being discussed conveys extreme trust to men, while women happily talk about intimate subjects even on public forums.

Very often a woman's candid talk can imply an intimacy she does not mean to men, particularly men who are not very familiar with casual interaction with women and don't know that this is normal for women. Something I always advise inexperienced young women is to not share one on one conversations involving features of your/his body with men you aren't interested in. It doesn't mean the same thing to them as it does to you. Of course, there will be individual exceptions, but the norm is broad enough to be useful insight.

A verbal refusal or protest can come from anywhere from an actual refusal to hesitation to commit to stating desire. And there can often be contradictory messages in behavior, with the non-verbal message often being the more accurate of the two.

Some women fantasize about being overpowered

One of the strongest endorsements of consent comes from BDSM, which allows for a safe word to call a halt to the sexual activity - ironically, often criticized for "cruelty". And the safe word actually can allow for erotic sexual play that involves refusing sex and the refusal being overruled if the safe word is not used. How could enslavement, pain being inflicted be desired? Obviously, the consent being explicitly moved to the safe word ensures that this isn't rape, but it definitely is rape fantasy if the play explores areas of consent being overruled.

Increase of women viewers of porn and a lot of outspokenness about porn and terms like feminist porn coming up have not led to any discernable change in standard porn content. So the increased number of women appear to be fine watching erotic content that is criticized from a feminist perspective for being disrespectful about women? For objectifying them, for not holding consent in higher esteem? Women too watch that and get off on it?

Actual research done in this area (led by a woman) shows startling results: 52% of the women had fantasies about forced sex by a man: 32% had fantasies about being raped by a man: 28% - forced oral sex by a man: 16% - forced anal sex: 24% - incapacitated: 17% - forced sex by a woman: 9% - raped by a woman: 9% - forced oral sex by a woman. Overall, 62% reported having had at least one of these fantasies.

Does a woman's response to a dominating man convey mixed messages? Is it possible that men either instinctively or from experience experiment with overruling consent as a part of sexual play? It certainly seems possible if one were to look at such data. There is plenty more research on rape fantasies, for the interested. No point derailing into all that. Particularly since fantasies are not consent for reality.

The man must be made aware of an unambiguous refusal

In my view, because of all these reasons, it is not enough to say "no" and pretend sexual interest did not happen, there is a need to ensure that the "No" is communicated. A man must be made aware of an unambiguous "no" and women must be educated about conveying it. Being willing to a point and then refusing, only to capitulate with some persuasion makes it very difficult to differentiate between a refusal that is momentary and overcome with persuasion and an actual refusal with further sex happening against the consent of the woman.

A common reason to capitulate is because the woman values the presence of the man in her life even though she doesn't want sex. She doesn't want him to turn to someone else. Sad though it may be, it is a hard choice, but a choice must be made with responsibility. Agreeing to sex but holding it against him is not ethical. It is also important to understand that once the genie of sex is out of the bottle, your relationship is not going to return to the comfort zone easily - if at all ever.

Not so hard to understand if men and women are BOTH people

Let us reverse the roles for a bit to make it easier to understand. If men seem more eager than women to seek sex, women can want sex for far longer than men, because biology. Women do pressurize no-longer-interested men into sex. Is a man who grumbles about it after being seduced into participating again a rape victim? Technically, yes. If we are talking of consent as a moment by moment thing where changing your mind on sexual interest is a right, a man who rolls over and falls asleep should be protected from the still horny woman.

In reality? It will be quite a few nights like this before a responsible lover learns to get his partner off first before racing for the finish line or the woman learns to insist on it. Without that pressure, he will never learn. In any case, a man can't be raped as per Indian law. He is this mythical creature who always wants sex, so there is no question of lack of consent - and countless relatively inexperienced partners of sexually active women will attest to the fact that they do get pushed beyond their comfort zone. If a woman is under social pressure of the male gender, the man's entire masculinity and existence as a man can be at stake in such moments. A man who can't "perform" on demand is a most embarrassing thing in terms of social conditioning.

A rather headstrong teenager slapped her lover awake when he fell asleep after climaxing while she was still horny and frustrated. Embarrassed at having fallen asleep and intimidated by her fury, he fumbled his way through that night and broke off with her the next morning, by which time she was horrified and embarrassed by her own behavior. "You can't force me" were his exact words, repeated over and over through the conversation.

She kept apologizing and begging him to forgive her. She had thought he had lost interest in her - as in he dumped her after sex. It was rape all the same - technically. A more humane term would be a learning experience for both of them. Neither of them were aware of crucial factors beyond their own experience. The girl didn't have an idea that men can need temporary time out after a climax. The man was not aware that women climax at all.

If a horny and clueless teenager can do this, an adult experienced woman can definitely pressure a man into "performing" beyond his endurance with a lot more expertise and knowing exactly how to do it. Not all men have the sexual resilience or skill to ensure that a woman also finds each sexual encounter satisfying. Till they learn, it can be extremely high pressure to deliver sex long after they have maxed out or more often than they are sexually able. One day it will make them better lovers. Or it may simply lead to a horrible sexual relationship they hopefully escape some day.

If we insist on reluctant agreements under pressure being up for evaluation as rape in hindsight, then we have to begin with the ethical stand that men too can be raped in this manner - are we willing to do that? Is it ethical to consider consent under pressure as rape only for women? Also, is it correct to blame a man for rape if there is consent under pressure even, unless there is an explicit threat or unfair pressure knowingly applied by the man? Can a man know all the factors that will run through a woman's mind before she agrees in order to know that the consent is not freely given?

There has to be some point where we have to take consent/participation at face value and it is the responsibility of each person in an adult interaction to make their peace with their choices. And to give consent with awareness of its implication and refuse it if not okay with it.

Saying NO and making it stick

Both men and women would be served better by widespread awareness of tools like safe words and emphatic "NOs" without mixed messages - where a refusal is a flat out refusal and no persuasion is welcome that leave absolutely no room for misinterpretation. This is important for both responsible adult communication as well as practical safety for women.

To say no, but continue other intimate touching, or remain accessible for further touch or escalate "I really like you, but..." type emotionally laden conversations, sends a mixed message that is very commonly interpreted as yes. If that is your intention, fantastic. I encourage you to attempt an eager "yes", because any responsible lover will wait for you to get there. If you are undecided, it is better to voice that and explicitly state a temporarily refusal or "find out as we go along" type consent so that the man knows to check for your comfort, than give mixed messages that can take the situation outside your comfort zone rapidly or to blindside with a refusal. This is the honest communication - stating your status clearly. Of course, if you've been yes till something turns you off, blindsiding cannot be helped.

The most important thing to educate people on is that they are not responsible for disappointing those interested in them gently at the cost of their own well being. If they are not interested in being intimate with someone, it is best to do a flat out NO. Alternative intimacy will neither satisfy an interested wo/man, nor will it convey a refusal. It will convey that you are interested in them, not yet enough for sex, but you're open to possibilities. Such possibilities will almost inevitably be explored, because such is the nature of horniness - it seeks a climax. Ironically, the chances of getting consensually laid in the future improve vastly in borderline situations if you can disengage and take care of your horny solo without imposing it on anyone before they are ready.

A person coerced into sex against his/her will has been wronged. But it does not follow that the wrong was deliberate unless that is also established. Sometimes bad judgment is just that. Sucks and wrong, but not a crime.

Nothing short of a climax satisfies a horny person. If that is not what you want, the best and kindest thing you can do for all concerned is to flat out refuse and stop all interaction. If you are not able to do this, you need to ask yourself what you are achieving by prolonging the risk.... and address it appropriately rather than slide into compliance. It is appropriate to be hostile instead of placatory when you want to push someone away. The fewer grey areas in such refusals, the fewer the mixed messages.

If there is structural or social power being exploited to take coerce someone, then the process of "NO" must also involve informing the structure of the exploitation of the power granted by it. Whether it is informing an organization about the inappropriate advance or a friend's circle about the camaraderie of a trusted group being misused to prey on someone. This vastly reduces the pressure on the target. It also allows for protective actions by others, like ensuring that the two are not left alone.

This needs to be a part of sex education.

apologies for the long read - it is a rough chapter from a book I'm writing. Was not able to shorten it gracefully.

Much has been spoken of the dangers to women because of sexually repressed views. Men are generally seen to be the aggressors, delineating what is allowed and what isn't, in such descriptions. There is an understanding of privilege. This is not entirely false. However, when you have a socially repressed society, men don't do well in it either. This is important to recognize.

Without getting into the question of opportunistic crimes against women born in ignorance and frustration, which I have gone into elsewhere, I want to talk about men who aren't criminals. Who aren't harming women in the sense of ending up in prisons. Who still suffer from warped sexual lives because of taboos that never really leave them.

As someone who has often written about sex, talked about sex openly and of course someone who has been enjoying having sex for decades now, there have been times when the starkness of the sheer handicap some men have simply because they have no access to reliable information is heart breaking.

Some examples. Some from my life, some from the lives of others.

Men who see the sexual organs as "dirty".

This is so common and manifests in so many ways, it would take a book to describe them all. Consider the situation of a man who has learned to relieve natural sexual desires by pressing his body against a hard surface (usually lying prone on a bed) and avoiding touching his own penis. This is far more common than you imagine. Handsfree masturbation, so to say. And then the terrible confusion when sex feels "wrong" or he is unable to or uncomfortable with being hard because he is habituated to climax from a stimulation of pressing against a surface instead of the stroking that normal intercourse would produce. It is so intimate, so destroying of own identity as MALE, even speaking about it to find help can be an ordeal. Coping with it with a sexual partner present (obviously, no, for intercourse?) is so intimidating or humiliating, they may avoid sex.

Men who see sex as dirty

There are many who enjoy sex, indeed are "addicted" to its pleasure, yet see the act as dirty. This leads to a preference for a "hit and run" approach, that leaves their partner dissatisfied, and them never really fully discovering the joys of intimacy. These will also be the ones who will typically use sexual metaphors and comparisons for unpleasant things or things they find revolting. Because sex, to them is not a good thing.

Naturally, this leads to a deep conflict and a mess of guilt and frustration. Guilt for desiring or enjoying something taboo, and frustration because they really are never comfortable enough to let themselves go completely and feel content. This toxic cocktail can spill over into other facets of life with short tempers, crude and an inability to focus on much else other than what is troubling their unconscious mind - sex. A lot of sexualized trolling manifests like this. Not speaking of casual profanity here ("Oh fuck!"), but sexual adjectives and metaphors used in context with a hated person/entity ("XYZ is a slut" "did you do this when he was ******* you?" etc)

It is no coincidence that almost every leader or ideology that controls large angry mobs usually has a very repressive view of sex. Frustrated people can be pointed at targets. Content people are way harder to motivate into hate.

Quite literally, sex is the worst, most intimidating thing that comes to their mind, which is why they fling that at someone they hate.

Ignorance about sex

I once mediated between a couple who were in love and wanted to marry, but the man did not want to saddle his woman with a relationship that would leave her unsatisfied. Obsessed with each other and still on the verge of a break off, I asked them why they were acting so melodramatic and martyrish if they loved each other. He believed she faked her orgasms when they had sex and nothing she said to the contrary, convinced him. Much talking with both of them, together as well as separately gave me the perception that the woman loved the man, enjoyed the sex and wanted to marry him, but his "invented" problems were making her feel insecure and worry that he did not really want to marry her. The situation with the man was more difficult to understand and it took a lot of persuasion to realize that because she did not moan or scream or make other loud sounds during sex, he believed that she was merely pretending in order to not hurt his ego and he genuinely wanted her to be happy and not leading a life of pretended joy.

From there it was not too difficult to discover that he had learned to recognize a woman's climax as visual expressions and involuntary sounds - straight from porn. His one girlfriend before this woman apparently had been noisy as well. It took a lot of convincing that there is no rule that says a woman must climax in a certain manner. His girlfriend told him quite bluntly that she realized he expected her to make sounds, but felt embarrassed and suppressed even natural pants and gasps because they sounded really odd.

To make a long story short, they did get married.

A more extreme case was one I heard from a social worker, who described a couple troubled by infertility, even though both of them were healthy. It turned out the man was trying to penetrate the woman's umbilicus. Stories of ignorance abound. From harmless ones like what goes where (usually figured out quite quickly) to potentially life changing ones - like "sex is the primary cause of pregnancy".

The impact

These are just a few examples. Many other manifestations come with their own problems, ranging from awkward, defensive-aggressive approaches to women that are perceived as invasive and crude, to insecurity in sexual life.

Without trying to be in the least sexist, I have observed that men tend to stake more of their identity on their sexual ability than women. There is the added vulnerability that a hard on cannot be faked, nor can a male climax. There is nothing that will protect from your sexual partner knowing exactly what happened or did not happen, while (in the case of women) not only is a woman not required to reach an "objectively verifiable climax" as someone had once put it, she is quite capable of having multiple climaxes, so faces little fear of the humiliation of not being able to satisfy a partner. Consequently, it is a source of great stress to not know things and risk the embarrassment of being blindsided by them with a sexual partner watching.

When a repressed society limits contact between genders, mutes all talk on sex, and makes sex something to be ashamed for, in my view, the resulting frustration and guilt - whether conscious or unaware - spill over into other aspects of life beyond denying the individuals a simple and natural pleasure. You have aggression, short tempers, a tendency to take offense and then be crude expressing it  - well, if sex is tricky, another "male quality" will get overcompensated, yes?

It all boils down to natural feelings not flowing into expression, but being blocked and forbidden till the pressure builds and explodes in unpredictable ways, lashing out at the unwary.

It also deprives people of a fundamental need - to be intimate, satiated and at peace with another person. The secure grounding of what your needs are, how they evolve, so that you may seek to fulfill them.

There is a need for more acceptance of natural sexuality of people, and a need to remove taboos around discussions that a child needs for questions that arise in his mind. There is a need for parents to speak as openly and informatively and without embarrassment about the natural sexual development of the body as they once did falling teeth.

Being capable of having sex does not make your child dirty. Talking about it does not make you dirty. The child would not be born without sex. There is no shame in sex. And there is a great need to protect your child from ignorance that could have grave consequences.

There is a need to not create taboos around sex, touching own genitals, masturbation, and more and instead provide factual information with appropriate caution. There is a serious need for schools to have basic sexual education that goes beyond the changes in the body during puberty and actually addresses healthy habits, factual information on sex, reproduction, contraception, consent and laws.

There is a great need for .

2

The Telegraph seems to have reported research on penile fractures published in the Advances in Urology journal (which in itself seems to be a startling concept given that the penis isn't supposed to have bones...). Wikipedia describes penile fracture as rupture of one or both of the tunica albuginea, the fibrous coverings that envelop the penis's corpora cavernosa caused by rapid blunt force to an erect penis, usually during vaginal intercourse or aggressive masturbation.

The Telegraph article reports that the study finds that the woman on top position, also known as the "cowgirl" is "potentially riskiest sexual position related to penile fracture", with half of the penile fractures they studied happening in that position.

Our hypothesis is that when the woman is on top she usually controls the movement with her entire body weight landing on the erect penis, not being able to interrupt it when the penis suffers a wrong way penetration, because the harm is usually minor in woman with no pain but major in the penis.

On the contrary, when the man is controlling the movement, he has better chances of stopping the penetration energy in response to the pain related to the penis harm, minimizing it.

The two other dangerous positions are the "doggy-style" position, with women on all fours -  29 per cent and the man on top position - "just" 21 per cent.

Now men, before you panic and make hasty choices, your friendly blogger brings you more information. Firstly, there is no use going celibate, rough masturbation too has been known to cause penile fractures. Oh wait. I meant reassuring information.

This piece actually reminded me of another one I'd read by Women's Health Mag where they interviewed 800 men for their favorite sex position and doggy style came up tops followed by cowgirl. Among positions men wished women would try more often, cowgirl topped the list. Talk of a penile-destructive instinct....

There are variations on this theme.

Esquire's sex survey 2102 (fascinating read - the latest is subscription only, but here are the highlights - cowgirl gets 31% now) put cowgirl barely ahead of missionary. Here's what it looks like:

sexual-positions-esquire-mag

 

I dug in further. I was not able to find any information on how Brazil likes its sex. It seems that various populations have different preferences in sexual positions (as in variations in percentage of popularity between "cowgirl", "doggy-style" and "missionary").

According to Adam & Eve ("retailer of fine adult products"), as Los Angeles Weekly reported, it was missionary (32%), doggy style (23%) and cowgirl (22%). However among the Facebook fans of the same Adam & Eve, the top position was doggy style (53%), Cowgirl (29%), reverse cowgirl (6%), other (6%) and missionary (6%). They chose to interpret it as "It's interesting that while Adam & Eve customers may be a bit more adventurous when it comes to sexual matters, the average American still seems to prefer face-to-face intimacy"

That said, an image on imgur probably has the last laugh on the extents to which a man could go to ensure the woman stays on top.

medical certificate for exertion free sex
He WILL BE UNFIT TO CONTINUE his USUAL OCCUPATION or SEXUAL services. Shaun can only take part in sexual activity flat on his back with minimal effort on his part.

Most surveys are of men, conducted by an industry led by men for the most part. And most report favorite positions rather than the ones most commonly used. It is impossible to say what actually happens when couples have sex.

For once I appreciate India Today's obsession with sex. They actually turned out to be the ones that did a sex survey on positions that has data from men and women and combined.

Which is your favourite sex position - Men
Which is your favourite sex position - Men
Which is your favourite sex position - women
Which is your favourite sex position - women
Which is your favourite sex position - both
Which is your favourite sex position - both

The survey sort of shows a universally joked about truth - more men prefer women on top than vice versa, more women prefer men on top than vice versa and the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. But I digress...

The good news is that the data on penile fractures is collected over 13 years (wait for the sentence to complete) and covers three hospitals in Campinas and the number of cases they had in the survey is ...um.. 44. The population of Campinas is 3 million (you're welcome). So, when we say 50% of the injuries caused, it means 22 injuries over 13 years from God knows how many people being ridden by "cowgirls" into bliss.

So it is near impossible to determine what percentage of men engaging in various positions end up having penile fractures. However, the good news is that whatever the position, the number of penile fractures appears to be relatively small. Don't give up on the sex yet.

You are welcome.

8

Dear Mrs Dixit,

I have read your comments on the Delhi gangrape. I applaud your honesty in admitting failure, in admitting the dangerous condition of Delhi for women and your determination that there must be change. In a more cynical mood, I think that it is easy for you to make these admissions considering that you are not in charge of security. However, you are in charge of the city and the mindset thriving in it makes this your responsibility, This also doesn't let you off the hook for other comments in the past.

However, this letter is about the future. You have mentioned in an interview that you have the intention to not sit idle and wait for security to happen, but to initiate a social drive to create a transformation in society. This is one of the wisest things anyone has said on the subject so far. I agree that this is the correct approach, and as a keen people watcher with an interest in women's rights, I have suggestions for transformation, if applied with integrity.

Most of the things on the table will not work. The buses and pubs are topical measures. Unless you plan to install CCTV cameras in fields and school toilets and turn the whole city into a super surveillance prison, this can't really starve rapists of locations or methods. Even as prison it will fail. This will strip the rights of the common man, which are already pretty shredded and encroached; lead to overall unrest.

Rapists don't see themselves as criminals till the need for a cover up. What happens to criminals will not deter them. Plus prosecution is lethargic and cops not interested in filing cases they can avoid. Harsh punishment for rapists won't fix the problem. There is a danger in creating laws in a moment of fury. Our country has a penchant for slapping laws onto things that can't be fixed by laws. And this is without our notoriously flawed witch hunt investigations and propensity to frame people. Irreversible punishments may just lay the brickwork for future disasters.

There is a process to rape. A rapist has a certain kind of thinking that allows the use or abuse of women sexually. Such a person finds an opportunity and a reason to do it. Then there is the victim. There are cops. The investigation. Judicial process. The judgment itself. Each of these can be improved. Lots of potential here if someone is serious about rolling up sleeves and getting to work. Most important is everything coming before the rape, because that can actually prevent it.

The opportunity and reason part of it is near impossible to prevent (and is Shinde's job anyway). Other things like police response and all will definitely help, but like you said, you can't do much about that beyond insisting, which you must.

In a normal society, there is a non-verbal contract of obeying laws, paying taxes and other duties in return for enforcement of rights, facilities that support and enhance living, protection from harm, etc. India is in a precarious position. People are experiencing that while they obey laws and pay taxes, and so on, they are not safer, they are finding living more difficult from inflation, unemployment, insecurity, whatever. There is dissatisfaction and very little awareness of equality.  It is every person for himself, with the sexually repressed environment demonizing sex, lesser chances of marriages, etc. The primitive chauvinistic culture has little in terms of legal oversight (possibly the price of vote bank politics).

Too much permissibility of subjugation of women has made their condition precarious. To add to this is a reinforcement of impunity for further humiliation of women with public figures making rabidly anti-women statements. Witness Nirupam's questioning of Smriti Irani's character. This is pretty much what every street thug does as he sizes up your breasts to grope on a bus. Big breasts is loose character, dancing is loose character, revealing clothes is loose character, late night on bus is loose character. The predator needs to find a way to turn his victim into a "bad person" in order to punish her with his actions, or he has to face that he is a demon (which no one does - everyone thinks of themselves as good people). Which is how Smriti Irani dancing is a reflection of her character, but hey Sunil Dutt or Govinda danced way more than her for far more money. But there is no utility in questioning their character.

This is further compounded by the Savitri and Sexy syndrome, where some women are objects of evil, while others are objects of innocence. So it is highly unpredictable who is a potential attacker till too late. Who knows who has what kind of hang up? So you had students protesting the rape of a student showing bangles to the police - as if it is an insult to be a woman. They used foul language about you or Sonia Gandhi - both women. Needless to say going among them without security is highly inadvisable for either of you, while the other "innocent" girls may do so without fear (unless they break another stereotype). It is not possible to go around analyzing every man. Nor is it appropriate to treat all men as potential sexual predators - the traditional line taught to unmarried girls in the hopes of keeping them away from men. Usually fails and leads to heartbreak or marriage or great/lousy sex. Hormones are a compelling influence no amount of moral policing can trump.

The need of the hour is a carrot - stick approach that keeps enough people in line that the rest can be fixed in other ways.

The carrots are the goodies. Increased acceptance of sex, propagation of ideas of sex as a natural and healthy thing, education on contraceptives, de-shaming sex, education on the paramount importance of consent as a part of sex (this also needs more solidly plugged into the laws and constitution), acceptance of sexuality, acceptance of sex professionals, industry (not exploitation), films and toys, and more. The more you can end repression of sexuality and make it easy and acceptable (as natural), the less likely it is to burst out in unpredictable, uncontrollable and devastating ways. Please note that this doesn't mean lowering the age of marriage. Sex and marriage need to be differentiated.

The sticks are the taboos. Enforcing laws is the biggest one. Creating public opinion on the unacceptability of sex without consent. Punishing every instance of demeaning women without discrimination (more below) by public figures or in media. Preventing exploitation in marriage, trade, whatever. The idea is to make these taboos so strong, that you have to be a really filthy creature to even think these things. Think of how well the church has done making homosexuality unthinkable. The pope is still fighting tooth and nail for his right to devastate lives. For a good cause, it could work brilliantly. Really heavy duty bombardment and relentless public opinion mongering. Religious leaders could be roped in to whatever extent they feel able to follow the laws of India.

The idea is the creation of a social environment where the laws matter. Here, your leaders and public figures are important. Visible role models upholding law will create a virtue out of that, visible role models insulting women will encourage the public to do similar. What is good/bad, acceptable or not, even which laws to take seriously and which ones to bend is often understood by watching what others are doing, and the references lie in the public space.

About the punishing of demeaning of women, it is actually written that it should be so. Another law enforced to manipulate people, but not protect them. It must be enforced. The women's commissions should be hauled over coals for not protecting women to begin with and then, if they repent, should be tasked with filing legal cases for offending the modesty of a woman for every single instance of victim blaming, character judgments, insulting comments about women, etc. Such people should be punished in courts or if they settle out of courts, one of the conditions must be a public apology that should be well covered in media. If the people receive it well, they are off the hook, or the case should go on.

Every single instance. be it a politician, a police officer, a judge, a school principal, khap panchayat - whoever, whatever. Regardless of political loyalties. The women's commission must not have any members who belong to political organizations or are related to politicians. Any of them not fulfilling these conditions must be replaced. Women's commissions should also alert appropriate authorities in the case of anyone in a tax funded job, so that appropriate action may be taken. Good idea for this could be fining half the salary for 6 months to fund women's rights initiatives. On an aside, a good person to have on a woman's commission is a blogger called Indian Homemaker. A superb and sensible warrior of human rights with an impeccable sense of what is fair. With no affiliations (that I know of) to make her judgment suspect.

The censor board must be hauled over coals for allowing content that promotes women as inferior and encourages subjugation. All the soap operas showing bold women as evil must be forced to rewrite scripts to be compatible with the message of equality in our constitution. Films with super hit songs (and stories) promoting sexual harassment must be forced to run captions that the action demonstrated in the film is actually illegal as per Indian law. "Good" women characters must be forced to comply with health weight charts. An underweight model must not be promoted as a role model, particularly in stories showing women of normal or heavier weights as stupid. "Good" characters must not exhibit a virtue of suffering abuse silently. On the contrary, they must fight abuse - against themselves at least, compulsorily. Challenging status quo must not be the sign of a bad character. Any "item numbers" projecting women as enjoying being touched by a crowd of men must have the actresses giving independent interviews disclosing if they really enjoyed being touched or would like to experience such a thing in real life. These interviews must be appended to the film in all future releases. Shows to focus on various aspects of women's rights to raise awareness must be designed. Tax exemptions must be given to films/books/content that promote healthy attitudes toward women.

I think this is a good laundry list to start with. Particularly important is the point about punishing public role models of humiliating women. I congratulate you on your healthy attitude to the problem, and I think you need not find yourself helpless. It will not be so difficult to change society if the people planning the change know what they are doing. Particularly for someone with the tremendous resources and reach of the state on their side. We stand by you, and hope that you come up with a model that can be replicated countrywide.

I would be happy to hatch more ideas with any team you have, if you find these useful.

Wishing you the best,

Vidyut

"I believe this is happening because our youth are being badly influenced by cinema and television. I think that girls should be married at the age of 16, so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs, and they don't need to go elsewhere. This way rapes will not occur,"