Looking at crime through a class prism
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?