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Looking at crime through a class prism

June 22, 2009

We don’t have too much respect for those who do manual labour. At best we tolerate them. So, this post is not really about how a young and upcoming Bollywood actor Shiny Ahuja allegedly raped a maid barely out of her teens. It’s about the blinkered way we look at crime.

A conversation I had with someone I know prompted me to write this post. This is how it went:

She: So do you really believe that Shiny Ahuja raped his maid?
Me: It looks like it doesn’t it.
She: But he could have got anyone, he is so good looking and a Bollywood star!
Me: Not all girls would be willing to sleep with goodlooking Bollywood stars.
She: But a maid? Surely she would want to? Anyway, why should he be attracted to her?
Her face had screwed up in disgust.

It was clear that she had no idea of what the crime of rape actually signifies. That often its not about wanting sex. But violence. Rape is often about someone wanting another, at any cost, even if it means that the victim is unwilling. In fact the unwillingness often plays an important part in the wanting. Why can’t I have her…too? Or how dare she refuse me?

Me: Why shouldn’t he be attracted to the maid? She was a goodlooking girl.
She: She was probably in love with Shiny, so many girls are in love with him. She could have seduced him.
Me: That’s what his wife and he himself are saying! That it was consensual. But you have to take into account that the maid was a virgin. Would she want to give away her virginity for this type of relationship?
She: Why not? In any case, I can’t believe it. Shiny doesn’t seem the type to rape anyone. All his wife’s friends, all women, have come on TV supporting his character.
Me: A shame isn’t it. Even before the police investigations are complete! And before the medical reports were out. The reports said she was raped.
She: But she went to work even when he made a pass at her the day before. Why did she go back?
Me:  Because needed the job? And she probably didn’t think he would rape her. If you find it hard to believe it even after the event then think of how she would have thought.
She was silent.
Me: If the rapist was a manual labourer and the girl was from a well to do family, who would you have given the benefit of the doubt to? And suppose this girl was harassed and raped in an office situation, who would you given the benefit of the doubt to? The victim or the rapist?

Well, I think I did manage to convince her, although the subject changed after that. I think that class identity seems to override all identity, even that of gender. It is ironic isn’t it that the very women who are supporting caste reservations so unreservedly are opposing the women’s reservation Bill?

Just a tiny test. It would be interesting to know how many of us actually thought that Shiny Ahuja was innocent even before the medical report was out? Why not try this opinion poll?

Related Reading: Why we blame victims
Conviction rates of the world
Police officer defends his son from rape charges
Dharavi is not a den of criminals
All posts on Crime
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86 Comments leave one →
  1. ruSh.Me permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:56 pm

    Having Shiney as accused doesn’t change a thing about Men in India and Rape as a crime..

    She is a woman, I can have her anytime I want..

    Oh, She slept with me once, Now I can have her as per my will…

    And ofcourse the ego thing, her no means an yes! – nita

  2. June 22, 2009 2:08 pm

    First of all I didn’t know who the guy was , till the news came out…

    And the girl seducing him ? Sounds like a witch from medieval Europe , shall we burn her ?

    It would interesting to know why he did it , him telling the media – not because you and me aren’t aware of the reason , but because there are people like your friend , who need to understand .

    Vishesh, lets hope they don’t burn her! – Nita

    • June 23, 2009 9:51 am

      Nita:

      I am with Vishesh. When I heard people mention Shiny, I asked what (not who) it was. :-/

      don’t blame you. Funny name, shiny! – Nita

  3. June 22, 2009 2:25 pm

    Firstly, in India, any girl who has been raped will have her marriage prospects seriously affected; in such a situation, it is hard to understand why the girl would accuse Shiney. However, for those who feel it is important not to convict the accused until the crime is proven, at the minimum, they should be neutral and not accuse the girl of making it up either.

    apu, true a woman in this country will not accuse anyone of rape that easily. But whichever way, neutrality becomes difficult. – Nita

    • June 22, 2009 6:13 pm

      apu, I agree. That story about Patricia Douglas that Brian mentioned brings that out. A girl shouting rape in India means a complete destruction of her reputation. If she wanted the man, she could have had him without a fuss, and I am sure she didn’t expect a proposal as he was already married with a kid. If she wanted money she could have had it, as he would have given it to her to keep her mouth shut. One thing she couldn’t have wanted, publicity. Well, that’s what I think. But again, despite this, the class divide is what is making people think that she is wrong.

  4. June 22, 2009 2:26 pm

    Crime which Shiney is charged with, is most common, and unreported one.
    We had couch stories, but very few celebrities are charged and found guilty.
    Even in this case, it might look simple, but the moment of act is not normal. Its a special moment for both when act is done with consent.
    I think its spur of moment that did it on Shiney. The way incident is running from normal court to fast track court, i cannot rule out possibility, of all being set up.

    sunny, are those your first thoughts or now? Because now the medical evidence says forced and violent intercourse. – Nita

    • June 23, 2009 7:43 am

      Nita, Although medical evidence proves it to be forced and violent intercourse, the way media got about it says more.
      You might say I male defensive, i am not.
      It might be a reverse way around, seduction and then she forced upon him, in either case it would be show the same medical report.
      Although we have not come across many cases of males being raped, it can all be done, to hook him off.

      • June 23, 2009 7:53 am

        With latest development in case, there has been change of thought. I read all comments put up.
        If it is set up / or vice versa, I think still he will have to pay price of being a celebrity.

        sunny, why should you say that he will have to pay a price? Do you really believe he will get more punishment than he deserves? If he is guilty surely he should serve his full term? Even if he is guilty and convicted, I doubt that this will happen. So I do not think he will suffer for being a celebrity. If an ordinary man had done this he would have to pay more heavily. In fact the media attention has ensured that Shiny will not get special treatment. Which I think is good- Nita

        • June 25, 2009 8:42 am

          Even after taking up a full term, he will be chased around my media for rest of his life.

  5. Vinod permalink
    June 22, 2009 2:34 pm

    Nita, I don’t follow the news of India or the world (shame on me!) though I am an avid follower of your blog. So I got to know of the news only by reading this post! That disqualifies me for your survey, right?

    I can see your point in this post and that is sad. Class considerations seem to bring some strange assumptions into play.

    Rape is about power and not sex. I thought that was well known. It keeps getting clouded easily.
    Legally speaking, consent is at the center of a rape trial and it seems to be so even in the mind of your conversation partner. So if someone with a class outlook to rape were to draft the law on rape they would add the presumption of consent when the accused is of a higher class than the victim when justice requires that it be exactly the opposite!

    • June 22, 2009 6:17 pm

      Vinod, as you say, rape is about power, not sex. And the rich and the powerful often think that they can have any woman they want, particularly someone without any power or money. If they don’t get her, they could do anything. And thanks for that analysis. It is those in power who always frame the laws don’t they…but even if some rational law is made because of rational people, there are the judges, judges who will doubt the word of the victim, if the victim is from a poor family.

  6. June 22, 2009 2:43 pm

    I think it is 2 early to reach a conclusion,till the medical report has come.but the fact is that ,there is a ‘wild animal’ inside everyone.But still i think , we should wait for the verdict of honorable court instead of going for conclusions.

    Anish, the medical report is out, but I wish I had that much faith in the honourable courts. – Nita

  7. June 22, 2009 2:54 pm

    When i first came to know about this news my reaction too was why the maid.. but the very next instant i felt why not.. I believe Shiny may be a star but still he is a man so he is very much capable of doing this… for any reason.

    he will not be innocent for me till he is proven so.
    his misbehaviours with his co-stars are already well known.

    oorja, my reaction exactly. My first thought was, why the maid! Its not possible. But this feelng lasted only for an instant. The next instant I thought of a bad word! – Nita

  8. Vinod permalink
    June 22, 2009 2:58 pm

    I went about looking for the rape laws in India and found this excellent article on the law in India and judicial attitudes towards rape.

    http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/rape_laws.htm

    Here’s an extract from the article –

    the definition of Rape as given in the Indian Penal Code, 1860. As per Section.375 of IPC a man is said to commit the offence of rape with a woman under the following six circumstances:

    1. Sexual intercourse against the victims will,

    2. Without the victims consent,

    3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person that she may be interested in fear of death or hurt,

    4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband,

    5. With her consent, when at the time of giving such consent she was intoxicated, or is suffering from unsoundness of mind and does not understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent,

    6. With or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age.

    In Mohd.Habib Vs State7, the Delhi High Court allowed a rapist to go scot-free merely because there were no marks of injury on his penis- which the High Court presumed was a indication of no resistance. The most important facts such as the age of the victim (being seven years) and that she had suffered a ruptured hymen and the bite marks on her body were not considered by the High Court. Even the eye- witnesses who witnessed this ghastly act, could not sway the High Court’s judgment.

    Another classic example of the judicial pronouncements in rape cases is the case of Bhanwari Devi, wherein a judge remarked that the victim could not have been raped since she was a dalit while the accused hailed from an upper caste- who would not stoop to sexual relations with a dalit.

    In another instance of conscience stirring cases, Sakina- a poor sixteen year old girl from Kerala, who was lured to Ernakulam with the promise of finding her a good job, where she was sold and forced into prostitution. There for eighteen long months she was held captive and raped by clients. Finally she was rescued by the police- acting on a complaint filed by her neighbour.

    With the help of her parents and an Advocate, Sakina filed a suit in the High Court- giving the names of the upper echelons of the bureaucracy and society of Kerala.

    The suit was squashed by the High Court, while observing that ‘ it is improbable to believe that a man who desired sex on payment would go to a reluctant woman; and that the version of the victim was not so sacrosanct as to be taken for granted.’

    • rags permalink
      June 22, 2009 3:08 pm

      “Another classic example of the judicial pronouncements in rape cases is the case of Bhanwari Devi, wherein a judge remarked that the victim could not have been raped since she was a dalit while the accused hailed from an upper caste- who would not stoop to sexual relations with a dalit.”

      I’m amazed that a judge would take such a view. There have been so many cases of upper caste men raping Dalit women to settle scores with their families.

      rags, good you mentioned that case. I have heard of these type of remarks by judges! – Nita

  9. June 22, 2009 3:01 pm

    Nita,I don’t know why has this case been over played by the media.Point is ..what are we discussing,Is it Shiney(who cares),Maid or the crime.
    The impression is that because a self styled celebrity is involved,this case is being discussed at the level of GirijaVyas(she needs to be in news after having lost election).I think ,let us leave Shiney alone and allow the law to do it’s job.The only issue which is worth discussing is…how can we all help the maid.

    • June 22, 2009 6:29 pm

      BK, that is indeed a nice thought, to help the maid. But while I agree that the case has been hyped up I am not sure that it shouldn’t have been. Because it was hyped up, everyone is discussing it and people have come to know the sordid saga. The fact that domestic workers are not safe has also been highlighted. I do not think it is an isolated instance. These things are common as domestic workers are sexually abused and often they are small girls, and not strong enough to complain. I have lived in Juhu, surrounded by film stars and I have interacted with their domestic help. The domestic help of film stars are generally from better off families, often talk a smattering of English, and are well trained. They are able to answer phones and handle guests. They also dress well, and at times in trousers! I have seen this with my own eyes. The kind of domestic help that the very rich and film star kind have are more likely to fight for their rights, and in this case if the girl is not after money then she will definitely shout rape. A poor helpless 14 year old working for a middle class family with her parents in some far off village will not be able to shout it out.
      So in a way I am glad that the issue was hyped up. If the victim was a rich girl it would have been hyped up. If the victim and perpetrator are both poor it is ignored. It was only hyped up because the alleged perpetrator is famous. If the victim is poor and the person is suspected to be the establishment it is hushed up like the Shopian rape and murder in Kashmir. It led to widespread protests and people died. The safety of women is very important to any society and if rapists are deemed innocent because of prejudices I think it is black mark on our society. Or in the case of Shopian, the powerful security forces even refuse to admit that its rape and murder and say it is accidental! I think we need to rectify these ills in our society. I am not sure how, but speaking up is one way.

      • June 23, 2009 5:10 am

        Nita,yes.My point is why only this maid and this case.Why can we not fight for all the maids….we don’t need one Shiney to remind us.
        Incidentally,I lived in Juhu for 12 yrs and agree with you regarding the maids there.

  10. June 22, 2009 3:02 pm

    Great post I could not agree with you more that Class divide overrides everything else I was nauseated seeing the amount of prime time our news channels gave to the friends of the alleged rapist

    thanks charakan. that clip nauseated me too. – Nita

  11. rags permalink
    June 22, 2009 3:03 pm

    It’s sad but true. Class overrides all other factors esp. in a country like India with gross social inequalities. Besides its simply horrible for people to assume that just because she was a poor maid she’d want to sleep with a bollywood star. Before people can assume about others I wish they can put themselves in that situation and introspect.

  12. June 22, 2009 3:19 pm

    I am not following the case on media, but I guess if he is guilty it would be proved in the court of law as Rape cases are easy to prove with just the victim statement. However as in many celebrity rape cases the victim changes her statement during the trial and the accussed is freed of any charges. Money or power not sure !

    Xylene, I hope this does not happen! – Nita

  13. June 22, 2009 3:30 pm

    I didn’t vote coz none of the options actually reflected my thoughts on the matter. I don’t understand why media has taken over the task of being the “court”… even before the case is tried they pass a verdict and people like your friend up there are all too willing to gulp it down!!

    sakhi, thats true, the media should not judge. they love to do it don’t they! – Nita

  14. June 22, 2009 3:32 pm

    And one moe thing… i don’t support any kind of “reservation” be it on caste basis or gender basis.. just felt like saying that!

  15. June 22, 2009 4:33 pm

    @ Nita : The man is innocent till proven guilty blah blah. Anyway the only thing that interests me in all of this is why is it making news?

    Rape is a mighty difficult charge to prove. How do we know it was not consensual? At best medical evidence can prove intercourse or a violent intercourse…

    Are there any witnesses? So its just her word against his at best. I don’t believe either. On second thoughts its none of my business either.

    odzer, I am against hyping up of any news but I feel that crimes against women are getting too common. They need a little hype. Specially in cases where it seems that the perpetrator will get away. For example the recent alleged rape in Delhi by policemen. It needs a little hype to get at the truth. However what I really want the media to talk about is whats happening in Iran, so for that I watch the BBC. :) – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      June 22, 2009 4:47 pm

      Rape is a mighty difficult charge to prove. How do we know it was not consensual? At best medical evidence can prove intercourse or a violent intercourse…

      Odzer, take a looksie at the link I provided. Believe it or not, evidence such as wounds on penis or on the victim’s body (but not bite marks on her shoulder) can count to (dis)prove rape.

      Vinod, medical evidence has already confirmed rape. Internal injury. Link here. The newspaper I read has given more details and it says internal vaginal injuries. I found one link here. However one does not know if the trial will be fair. – Nita

      • June 22, 2009 5:08 pm

        @ Vinod : If scrapes, wounds and bites prove rape we should all be convicted by now! How silly.

      • June 23, 2009 12:32 am

        The question is — Do internal injuries prove rape beyond reasonable doubt? Does the court then assume that all intercourse is injury free? When you ask whether the trial would be fair I am sure that should be a question that must be put to a medical expert by the defense.

        • Vinod permalink
          June 23, 2009 4:48 pm

          Does the court then assume that all intercourse is injury free?

          Isn’t it so?

          • June 24, 2009 6:53 am

            Not necessarily. Consensual sex could involve a ‘wild’ factor that leads to injuries. BDSM, for example, involves violence or coercion but is considered consensual. India has a huge legacy of sexual practises that go beyond procreation, elaborately detailed in the Kamasutra or at Khajuraho.

          • Vinod permalink
            June 24, 2009 7:25 am

            Priyank…without necessarily discounting your point….

            I don’t think the cultural influence of these legacies is anymore significant. (I could be very wrong). I’m not sure whether what was depicted in those works were dominant in the society at that time or were they just peripheral. In other words, were these works just one-off pieces of art? Is there a way to even answer that question when the number of art works related to sex that survive time to emerge as historical evidence could be very few? Care is needed before one can speculate from the historical evidence to the society as a whole.

            • June 24, 2009 7:06 pm

              You are probably right. :) Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to know the contemporary sexual habits of people in India since talking about recreational sex is still a taboo.

  16. June 22, 2009 5:22 pm

    http://www.vanityfair.com/fame/features/2003/04/mgm200304

    It Happened One Night … at MGM
    When Patricia Douglas was raped by an MGM salesman at a 1937 studio party, the 20-year-old dancer filed charges, taking on Hollywood’s most powerful institution. Today, as Douglas breaks a 65-year silence, the author exposes the perjury, bribes, and smear tactics used to destroy her.

    • June 22, 2009 6:09 pm

      OMG Brian, that story really tears at one’s guts! What the rich and the powerful can do. I think we in India are in America 1930’s. Where crime against the poor is concerned.

  17. June 22, 2009 5:41 pm

    There could be several possibilities… and its best to leave it to the authorities who are dealing with this…

    However the most amazing thing was that his wife has stood by him…

    If it was rape she should have left him…
    If they were having an affair and she now is black mailing him still the wife must have dumped him…

    the fact that she is still standing by is maybe this is just a blatant lie… or else I absolutely dont konw why his wife is still supporting her.. ??

    hitchwriter, I have heard that they were separated and my reading is that she must be supporting him for the sake of wanting alimony and support (what will she get if Shiny is behind bars?). But even if she is not separated as the initial reports said, she could still be supporting him for financial reasons. She can always divorce him later. :) Just my own theory which could be wrong! – Nita

    • June 24, 2009 3:45 pm

      Supporting just for the sake of alimony ???

      the world is unreal… really..

  18. June 22, 2009 5:41 pm

    supporting him.. not her.. !

  19. June 22, 2009 6:34 pm

    I have encountered many people who think anybody in labor class is a thief/criminal/slave and much more. I always get sneered at for being friendly with some laborer working roadside. The friend you mentioned in your post falls in same category. Sadly, most of the supporters of Shieny are women and they are talking without thinking. I voted for “the women was taken advantage of” because I think that is what happens in most of the cases like this. Girl/women is taken advantage of, and then dumped or killed or sent somewhere…. Sad!!!

    Suda, I too talk a lot to people from the labour class! In fact if I meet any of my maids on the street, I stop and talk to them for a few minutes like I would do with anyone else I know. At home too I talk with them, normally, as human beings, like anyone else. I tell them they can sit on the chairs, they can help themselves to the milk in the tea and so on.

  20. Vinod permalink
    June 22, 2009 7:15 pm

    Anybody knows what is the percentage of women judges in the Indian High court and Supreme Court?

  21. Dev permalink
    June 22, 2009 7:45 pm

    Rape, as you also mentioned, is mostly about power/sadism/chauvnism. It’s much less about just satisfying one’s sexual needs.
    Regarding the Shiney case, he deserves harshest of punishment if he is guilty. But until the law takes it’s full course, I wont assume or say anything. Especially since there seems to be so many contradictory and weird statements given by both the parties and also by the police/media/other people linked in this case.

    Dev, true too early to say. Hope the trial is fair. The media hype will ensure it I think. They dare not let him off now, if he is guilty. – Nita

  22. June 22, 2009 8:12 pm

    I also agree rape is about power – with an hidden (until released) urge for sadistic control i.e urge to humiliate the other person with the power.

    Nita, your poll questions perhaps did not cover all bases. I heard the news, but then I didn’t know enough to form a definitive opinion. y tendency was that he *could* have done it” (because such things do happen), but how could I be sure to judge him so until all details are out? So an extra choice (like no definitive opinion yet) for this may have made it more comprehensive.

    But I like the idea of the poll as it is more about how where our tendencies (and prejudices) fall, rather than about the case itself :)

    Arun

    The main thing is to see by our first reaction. Generally we do go by our emotions, rather than rationality, and our first reactions are emotional, not based on facts. That was the reason for the poll. But yes, if you do not hold any preconcieved notions about masters and their servants you will react in an objective way, which is to ask for facts. – Nita

  23. June 22, 2009 9:56 pm

    Since we are in a capitalistic society, class will play a role in judiciary and in people’s mind.It’s sad, but we can’t help it as we choosed capitalism.
    A person is judged thru his career,money,name & fame.One who have it can buy most of the things in India.Now we can’t move back from capitalism..

    As the medical reports are suggesting the intercourse is not consensual we need to wait and watch till the law take its own course.Surprised to see Shiny Ahuja wife as a woman is supporting him.

    If Shiny Ahuja is a daily labourer than the police would have just used the case for money and would have gone unreported by the media.Now the police and judiciary will plan & celebrate for a bigger cake (money).

    Kumar, I think a person in most societies is judged by his power and/or money. Whether capitalistic or not. The only thing is the matter of degree. When it spill over to notions about the poor being criminals, then we know something is seriously wrong. – Nita

  24. June 22, 2009 10:02 pm

    Interesting thing is the fact how the wives support their husbands in such cases. Is it because of love or dependence or security? I wonder how they are able to live with such men for the rest of their lives.
    Sorry for getting sidetracked. I voted!

    Reema, I doubt that it is love! – Nita

    • June 23, 2009 9:55 am

      Reema:

      Support at the current moment does not mean she is going to live with him for the rest of her life. People do things circumstantially and she may genuinely believe he did not do it. Her views may change over time (or not).

  25. June 22, 2009 10:25 pm

    Agree with you. Class divide leads to a lot of prejudices in all of us. In this case, because of my prejudices against Bollywood stars, I was inclined to suspect that he was indeed guilty!

    And I think Vivek K must have thought so too! :) – Nita

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      June 23, 2009 6:13 pm

      Nita,

      Notwithstanding your smiley, I must protest against being dragged as a footnote into a discourse I have chosen to distance myself from.

      My first thought, like Shefaly’s (though for a different reason which I hardly need to spell out), was not ‘who’ but ‘what’.

      Having got that out of the way, I have no doubt whatever that this enterobacterium cultured on the Bollywood petri dish will get away lightly, perhaps be honourably absolved of any crime, and may even be nominated for some kind of award.

      Vivek, enterobacterium cultured on the Bollywood petri dish. Thats a nice one! :) I wouldn’t bet on the award though. – Nita

  26. June 23, 2009 1:01 am

    The first thing which came to my mind was – Why a maid?? And maybe the maid was trying yo blackmail him.
    God knows what the truth is. I just hope that no innocent is punished.

    Amit, because of the hype I think there is a good chance of a fair trial! The maid will hopefull not be pressurised to withdraw her complaint. – Nita

  27. June 23, 2009 1:20 am

    Surprising how in the earlier responses to your post money and class seem to be used synonymously. This is is the real issue here – not whether the rape happened (that is for the legal process and support groups to sort out), but whether we as individuals or as a society are capable of fairness, honesty and respect for individuals. If these are values that we live and promote – our systems will reflect our reality.

    aanteladda, you have articulated in better words than I did exactly what I wanted to say. – Nita

  28. June 23, 2009 2:12 am

    You have brought out so many valid aspects. The one thing that this case has brought for sure is the vulnerable position that so many domestic workers are in. There might be so many other who are in the same situation but cannot voice their problems – thanks to the influential positions that their employers are in.

    Lets just justice is done in this case.

    Smitha, I am hoping too, that justice is done. – Nita

  29. June 23, 2009 10:51 am

    I don’t understand how, people are thinking (still) that a film star can be good and innocent!! Because his wife is supporting him? Rich and famous people always tend to lose their minds. They have to be waken up, by incidents like this. In the case of film stars, their relatives (close ones) show more arrogance than they themselves do (Of course, there maybe exceptions).

    Money and power might buy him out of this case, but he would have undergone enough torture by then.

    Destination Infinity

    DI, apparently the press exposed the fact that after he was arrested he was getting special treatment. Immediately after this came out, he was put into jail! And even I suspect that he will eventually get the case squashed. Lets see. – Nita

  30. June 23, 2009 11:43 am

    Nita:

    I am reminded of a good fiction by Thrity Umrigar, titled The Space Between Us. I reviewed it here: http://bit.ly/mm1tj

    If you get a chance, do read it. It is a quick read mainly because of how it is written, and touches upon the many dimensions of the very desi issue of servant-master including power, dependence, trust and class.

    Shefaly, I read the review, a very good one! Definitely seems like a very interesting book and will keep it in my mind. – Nita

    • June 23, 2009 11:46 am

      Corrections:

      a good fiction BOOK

      servant-master RELATIONSHIP

      Sorry!

  31. June 23, 2009 12:09 pm

    I read an article in Outlook that we indians are more racist than others,and yes I agree to a certain extent..

    I have no comments about maid rape issue…I am more disgusted reading today that a father raped her 11yr old daughter for three years.. **sigh**

    Nimmy, child rape is a terrible crime and more so if it is done by someone who is trusted. If you remember I had done a post on this. – Nita

  32. June 23, 2009 1:06 pm

    Some momentary instincts took Shiny Ahuja to do all that what he did. I think he is guilty, but his wife seems to be defending him for her own social prestige.

    As for the class identity, we are too much habituated to making generalizations. People from several domains are respected, some are not. This is a logical fallacy called ad hominem, one of the most common logical fallacies. That is the reason why whatever Shahrukh, Amitabh and Aamir write through their blogs is deeply respected by many, even though these celebrities are not experts on some issues on which they comment. Like say terrorism, politics, etc.

    I think class identity is hard to go, there will always be a section of the society much poor, a section rich. A section educated, a lesser educated. That is how caste system generated, and we have First World, Third World, Fourth World today… I don’t think when will that end, but people should remotely not be capitalist pigs.. :P

    Whatever Strikes, true there will always be inequalities and prejudices, but these prejudices should not spill over to perceptions about crime. Not to the extent they are now! – Nita

  33. June 23, 2009 2:56 pm

    Nita, for me the shocking part in this story is the wife supporting the husband. Shiny has accepted consensual sex and his wife seems to have no problem with that ! She seems to be a better actress than Shiny, I can’t imagine any wife talking about her husband with so much love and trust soon after he has accepted sleeping with another woman.

    Prerna, we tend to think that the husband and wife relationship is a sacred one. So I tend to agree with what Shefaly has said. I have heard of “open” marriages. – Nita

    • June 23, 2009 7:44 pm

      Prerna:

      I disagree for several reasons.

      I know of a much celebrated media CEO in India whose wife supported him as a woman accused him of rape. A wife’s support has a huge bearing on how the courts judge the case. So it is a smart strategic move. It may not work but if it does, he will get headlines forever and she may even have an alternative career.

      Further, imagine, if he is freed, how much power she will have over him for the rest of his life! Think John Edwards’s wife and Hillary Clinton or even Jack Welch’s second wife who gave up her career for his and then the divorce many decades later was one helluva bust-up during which Welch’s carefully constructed persona came down crashing. There is no superiority like moral superiority.

      We do not know much about this lady apart from what is reported. Besides only the two people in a marriage know what their ‘deal’ is. I know both intolerant people, the kind who fly into a fit of rage if the husband so much as looks at a woman, and very tolerant ones, who know that much of a stable marriage is made of forgiveness. Most couples sit somewhere along the continuum.

      • June 24, 2009 7:53 am

        Shefaly,

        You have a point. Anupama would have definitely known her man. But just for power is she is supporting him, she needs to think of consequences going ahead. With this bake (scoop), media going to be upon watch for Shiney till his grandkids are going to college.

  34. mom permalink
    June 23, 2009 5:50 pm

    The question that comes to my mind is, do we think she was taken advantage of because she was a ‘mere’ maid ? Do we think , things would have been different had the victim belonged to the same social class as his?

    mom, thats an interesting question and could have some truth in it. For example, the majority of rapes happen to poor women in India. Whether its in police stations or on the streets or behind closed doors. Thats because the chances of them infuencing the justice system are far less. – Nita

  35. vasudev permalink
    June 23, 2009 10:24 pm

    is it ok to rape with love and passion?

    • June 24, 2009 7:01 am

      ? Perhaps you need to read the definition of rape:
      “Rape is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with/or sexual penetration of another person without that person’s consent.”

      So regardless of how much love and passion a 50 yr old guy has for a 18 yr old girl, if she doesn’t want it, its a rape.

      • June 24, 2009 7:48 am

        Priyank,

        It cannot be applied to most of cases were things are done under influence. If you think of a moment, it looks as if its consent, later on when she comes to her senses, she realizes that this is not what she wanted.

        Take a resent case of TISS, one of the boy, who was charged with rape, said “HE thought he had a consent”. When actually all of them were on high Spirits.

        Sunny, about the TISS rape, it has now more or less come to light that they had planned the rape. So all that stuff about having consent is a lie. The others in the group have confessed that it was all planned. – Nita

      • vasudev permalink
        June 24, 2009 11:19 am

        priyank

        problem here is how much of dictionary meaning of rape comes in when a case is contested.

        if rape is a personal assault without consent most indian husbands can be accused of rape (including the ‘his highness’ and ‘your majesty’).

        since we do definitely have an ocean of uncertainity the question i raised becomes pertinent in most of the cases:

        husband/wife/gf relationships
        bf/gf relationships
        man/maid relationships

        all characters cannot be characterised as essentially bad and it is also very difficult to remove the chaff from the grain.

        hence, comment above.

        • June 24, 2009 7:10 pm

          Vasudev, a rape is a rape. Husbands forcing sex on their wives “with love and passion” or whatever is a rape. Marital rape is widely prevalent in India.

          There is no uncertainty. I don’t see your point of “good rape” v/s “bad rape”.

          • vasudev permalink
            June 24, 2009 7:46 pm

            I think this correction would explain the meaning of rape:

            “Rape is a REPORTED assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with/or sexual penetration of another person without that person’s consent.”

          • Vinod permalink
            June 24, 2009 7:53 pm

            if rape is a personal assault without consent most indian husbands can be accused of rape (including the ‘his highness’ and ‘your majesty’).

            Vasuvev, I’m an unmarried virgin whose idea of sex is only from movies and who has heard little to nothing from married people about real sex life. Try as hard as I may, I don’t think I understand what you’re referring to in the above. Can you explain?

            • vasudev permalink
              June 24, 2009 8:12 pm

              vinod…the first part of my above cited comment has been taken from priyank’s definition of rape.

              see my correction to the definition of rape and you would know what i want to say.

              in the indian community, which is orthodox still, man forces himself on woman (and consent be damned).

              woman (wife) would not report since she is much in love with her husband, has taken the ‘saat phere’ and is commited to live with him till her last breath.

              these cases of rape go unreported and even the judge who passes his dictum or the lawyer who accuses could also be accused of these sins.

              • June 25, 2009 7:56 am

                Vasudev, I’m shocked with your change of definition of rape to suit (your) male chauvinist needs:

                my correction to the definition of rape… man forces himself on woman (and consent be damned)… woman (wife) would not report since she is much in love with her husband, has taken the ’saat phere’ and is commited to live with him till her last breath.

                What else should women do? Commit Sati – but not report it – and it will be okay if not reported? or kill female babies – which would again be okay if not reported because the husband demands it with love and affection.

                [puke][puke]

                • June 25, 2009 8:26 am

                  You got it right, rape is still a forceful.
                  Worst part is on females to be blamed for, as owner ship does lie on male to labor a child into world.
                  That where forceful sex is more like a crime done on Females, and males walk away with it.
                  Even today in western world, owners to have protection to not to conceive is more on females, they are human and not Machines.

                  • June 25, 2009 8:29 am

                    opps! very bad english,
                    You got it right, rape is still a forceful act.
                    Worst part is, females to be blamed for conceiving, as owner ship does not lie on males to labor a child into world.
                    That forceful sex is more like a crime done on Females, and males walk away with it.
                    Even today in western world, owners to have protection to not to conceive is more on females.
                    They are human and not Machines.

                • vasudev permalink
                  June 25, 2009 10:13 am

                  priyank…rape becomes rape only if reported. rape is more of a police matter than anything to do within a family. for example a wife cannot run to her pa-in-la blaming her husband for having raped her. such cases of forceful impositions between couples might be rape but unreported it gets lost into the ocean.

                  so…as of now rape is only that which gets ‘reported’ and thereby you come to know of it through media etc. now that is more practical. on the other hand if you are satisfied just giving a word to an act then go ahead and call it anything you like. it won’t make an iota of difference to the society or womanhood…unless people get bold enough to report it to the appropriate authorities. now…forget it! this is india.

                  • rags permalink
                    June 25, 2009 12:36 pm

                    @vasudev:
                    Honestly speaking, your thoughts seem extremely primitive and prehistoric… Sadly that would include a majority of Indians who condone marital rape.

                    • vasudev permalink
                      June 25, 2009 1:08 pm

                      LOL! God! why am I talking to pure idiots?

                    • vasudev permalink
                      June 25, 2009 1:24 pm

                      ok rags…sorry about that ‘reaction’ even though i discard your accusations of me being primitive/prehistoric or whatever.

                      you do me an injustice. my contention is simply that while all of you are only interested in ‘qualifying’ rape as if in a dictionary, my thoughts are different. it is more radical and not at all bookish.

                      i am blaming the dictionary meaning of rape. there is something missing there. rape, as explained, is not applicable to the indian context and there is no point in sitting on lofty singapore/canada/us chairs and blaming people for condoning rape. rape, as applicable to current india, is not an act to be avoided but is something funny that newspapers ‘report’ to improve circulation. i am merely pointing out this fact. my submission therefore is in this very context that the meaning of rape in india is only for the ‘reported’ ones. now you cannot blame me if we are at different geograpfical locations with different culture/understanding and environment. my thoughts are not condoning but condemning.

                    • Vinod permalink
                      June 25, 2009 1:40 pm

                      rape, as applicable to current india, is not an act to be avoided but is something funny that newspapers ‘report’ to improve circulation

                      Changing the definition of rape sure is a strange ,if not outlandish, way of dealing with media’s penchant for sensationalism!!

                • Vinod permalink
                  June 25, 2009 10:25 am

                  Vasudev, I’m not sure if the use of the word ‘reported’ adds anything of value to the definition of rape. Reporting is a requirement for investigation for a variety of crimes. Those are matters of practicality and not matters of substantive law and morality. You are mixing the two up.

                  • vasudev permalink
                    June 25, 2009 10:37 am

                    vinod…tell me something. maybe i did not understand ‘rape’. what can qualifying ‘rape’ as a word detailing an act of sex do unless you also qualify it as something unholy which has been made public so that the perpetrator can be punished? in which way is it going to make a difference to an individual whether in his bedroom his wife cries ‘rape’ at him if she is not going to take it up leading to punishments? so what are you wanting? just to qualify an act or to act upon the act?

                  • Vinod permalink
                    June 25, 2009 11:18 am

                    Vasudev, like all such words the word ‘rape’ has moral and emotional connotations and can be used in a normative narrative to deter a person from engaging in it; to be a little bit more sensitive in matters of sex even within the confines of marriage. It can make a man think before he gets into the act.

  36. June 24, 2009 6:56 am

    Would she want to give away her virginity for this type of relationship?

    Sure, why not! There is more sex going on in the society that people imagine.

    • June 24, 2009 8:05 am

      I think every bit of fuss is around how society looks at having sex. Most of the cases are filed are against the pressure of society etc. More liberal thinking should help it. But it is happening reverse at least in India. With June fading, last week have more than 27 Rapes reports in various parts on India.
      Think of people involved:
      1. Person in power
      2. College Kids
      3. Cops
      4. Bosses etc.
      This still excludes, white collar person who manage to keep it totally hush-hush. Unfortunately, there are no male rapes reported.

  37. June 24, 2009 8:15 am

    I just remember on s song lyrics:

    Ain’t that funny
    Baby that you want me, when you had me
    Love is crazy, now I can smile and say
    Ain’t that funny

    I really wish you wouldn’t send me gifts
    Tryin’ to make me sit and reminise
    Tryin’ to blind me with your blingin’ bling
    Thought I told you love don’t cost a thing
    Hope you realize that now I’m through
    And I don’t ever wanna hear from you
    I had enough of bein’ there for you
    Now I’m laughin’ whule you play the fool

  38. vasudev permalink
    June 24, 2009 2:33 pm

    shiney ‘maid’ jokes have already hit the market. this one came to me today vide email:

    What does Shiney like to ride the most?
    Bai-cycle

    Wwhat is the fav bedroom line of shiney?
    GOOD BAI!

    What kind of food does Shiney like
    Home Maid

    What is Shiney’s sexual orientation?
    He is Bai-Sexual

    Whats shiney ahuja’s favorite song?
    Maid in India

  39. June 30, 2009 9:14 pm

    I know of many married respectable middle class men who have sex with the maid on the sly! And some of their close friends (males) know it too, but apparently, men have a tight confidence network. So I think they are an abused lot. The reported cases in India is only the tip of the iceberg.
    I try to explain about rape like this at times: if you think you need a 100 bucks to buying something you desire, and you beg for it and get it, it is legal. If the other person refuses and you hit him and snatch his wallet, it shows violence and lawlessness on your part, and same way, rape is a violent crime. You like a cake on display does not mean you can break the glass and rob the shop. No matter how enticing the food is.
    And even if it was about sex, sexual urge is not a life threatening situation that can bring out a primal streak of violence in a human being!
    Rape is violation and objectification of a human being on an much more extreme scale and an expression of inner violent tendencies.

  40. July 11, 2009 8:36 am

    Ha! ha! If you thought class was the only factor, here’s another masterpiece from Shiney Ahuja’s lawyer:

    Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja’s lawyer on Tuesday gave a new angle to the case, claiming that the victim of the alleged rape belongs to a lower caste, which is “aggressive” in nature. During a hearing on the actor’s bail plea filed before a sessions court, lawyer Shrikant Shivde contented that Shiney hails from a “respectable” family and was wrongly implicated in the case.

    Elaborating his version of “consensual sex”, Shivde argued that if Ahuja had tried to rape the victim, she could have “definitely” resisted. “She belongs to a lower caste, which is aggressive by nature, and she wouldn’t have submitted herself so easily. They are known for being aggressive,” Shivde said.

    Can you believe this? I cannot imagine why the reporters or the court let this man get away with such blatant and open casteism.

    And about consent, well, either way it looks bad for Shiney — He was married with a kid. He had far more responsibility to reject her “advances”, IF at all she made any. He was the one in a position of power. He was her employer.
    I can understand people standing up for his character, but I don’t understand what coming from a “respectable family” means. So a poor person is not to be respected? And these lawyers are actually using these as arguments! It makes me sick.

    I really liked Shiney Ahuja as an actor. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is one of my all-time favourites.
    But I hope justice is done in this case.

    • July 11, 2009 9:30 am

      SS, I am shocked to read this! What is clear however is that the caste and social standing of the girl definitely influenced Shiny when he decided to rape her. He either assumed that she was not worthy of being called a woman or was of a bad character because of her social standing. I think its disgusting and I hope Shiny gets stringent punishment. And you have brought out a very good point when you said that being an older married man with a kid and her employer he should have in fact resisted her “advances” if there were any. It is also disgusting if he got seduced or whatever, which I don’t believe anyway. No employer should have sex with the employee in any case. I know of two cases where employees have been sacked for carrying on affairs with clients and other bosses in the organisation and yes the boss has also been sacked. This is for affairs, not rape.

    • vasudev permalink
      July 11, 2009 12:01 pm

      did the judge accept the bollock?
      severely aggressive are the zulu but aggressive they are in battle with an enemy.
      submissive like sheep are they when ordered by their own chieftain to comply.
      however i am still not clear about this case:
      did shiny rape or did the maid consent to be raped?

  41. rags permalink
    July 11, 2009 11:57 am

    “Can you believe this? I cannot imagine why the reporters or the court let this man get away with such blatant and open casteism.”

    I’m not at all surprised SS. I’ve heard this kind of crap from many people (even the supposedly educated ones, I got no respect for them after they utter such trash, education or no education).

    Its pretty common in India to attribute certain qualities to a person if he/she belongs to a certain caste (preferably positive qualities to upper castes). I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve realized Indian society doesn’t consider it as an anomaly at all, its quite normal to most people.

  42. Abhimanyu Altekar permalink
    October 7, 2009 11:12 am

    **But she went to work even when he made a pass at her the day before. Why did she go back?

    This is most important.
    No women will get back to her job if she finds that if her boss / master has some bad motive or malafide intentions about her …. She will not get back to such job at any cost
    I asked many women galz – what they would have done in such case… All of them said We would have left such job already
    If any women is ready to work in such conditions then she is more interested in her bread butter and Would even give away her virginity.
    The victim’s in this case statement given to police are fishy.
    she had not use word “Balaatkaar” (Rape) she used word “Atyaachaar” in court
    Threre is huge difference …. in aspects of law meaning is also different.

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