Kashmir Indepth

Why men rape? Book seeks to find out answers

New Delhi, May 9 (PTI) Why men rape? A new book seeks to find out answers by examining a slew of factors that shape male behaviour.

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In her book “Why Men Rape: An Indian Undercover Investigation”, Tara Kaushal sets out to understand the reasons why women feel unsafe through a detailed investigation which includes interviews and meetings with nine men who have an inclination to commit acts of sexual violence.

The core of Kaushal’s research methodology for the book, scheduled for release next month, entailed spending up to a week each with nine men who have raped, across different parts of the country.

The author spent time in their home environments; interviewing and observing them, and their families and friends.

Kaushal says through a study of these “mostly ‘undetected’ (the experts’ term for rapists outside the criminal justice system), some unconvicted rapists, I sought to determine how history, economics, environment, upbringing, education (or lack thereof), psychological state, and attitudes towards sex, women and gender shaped their behaviour and impacted their inclination to commit rape”.

She says anthropological, observational research is expensive and time-consuming but in-depth. “Sociological, interview-based research is cheaper and easier but oftentimes shallower, with the drawback of the say-do divide – what people say is different from what they do.”

Kaushal says she was “undercover – with a different name and corresponding email and Facebook IDs; hidden tattoos and a so-not-me kurta- jeans look; the works”.

The 250 questions she asked and the things she observed were the “same with all men, but I never told them I was studying them because they had been identified as rapists”.

The men interviewed belong to all sections of society – a doctor who raped his 12-year-old patient; an unemployed man who has decided to kill his former lover; a youth who gang raped; a serial gang rapist who doesn’t believe that rape exists.

Alongside, the author gives insights from myriad survivors; world-famous experts; a jail inmate who provides with commentary on the world view of rape convicts inside a prison; and many more.

The book, published by HarperCollins India, also talks about how hypersexualized mainstream cinema, prejudiced media coverage of rape cases, the explosion of pornography, and other historic and current factors have become collaborative agents in causing gender violence in India.

In a nation plagued by the memory of Nirbhaya and the misogyny of the Bois Locker Room, the book is seen as a bold step towards revolutionising our discourse around sexual violence.

According to Krishan Chopra, publisher (non-fiction) at HarperCollins India, “Why Men Rape” is an extraordinary journey to find an answer to a question that has begun to haunt India.

“Tara Kaushal looks at how a whole slew of factors — from history and environment to upbringing and ingrained attitudes about sex and gender — shaped male behavior,” he says.

Commissioning editor Ananya Borgohain says this is a “rather unsettling book which will make you stand still, flummoxed, trying to grasp how our society functions”.

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