In India, people have blamed ‘women wearing Western clothes’ and ‘eating chowmein’ for rape, which clearly emphasises the need for sex education at an early age in the country. Though, it has become a subject in many metropolitan schools, the word “sex” is still a taboo in rural India and there’s a long way to go before the mindset changes.
Blaming his ‘Indian upbringing’, 31-year-old Simardeep Singh, former cab driver in Australia, raped an 18-year-old in 2011 and was sentenced to five and a half years in jail earlier in August.
Singh reportedly went to Australia in 2008 and worked as a driver with Swan Taxis in Perth. In January 2011, he picked up a 20-year-old woman from Northbridge and asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life and even touched her in an uncomfortable manner. After the woman was dropped home, she reported the matter to the company. Right after dropping her, he picked up another 18-year-old woman passenger, took her to a park and raped her. The girl reported the matter to the police who released him without any charge the same day. Singh fled to India the very next day only to be summoned back in 2015 to appear before the court.
According to ABC News, defence lawyer Shane Adam told the court that Singh was raised in a conservative environment in Punjab, where women who wore short dresses were considered “prostitutes” and there was never any discussion around “sex” among family, peers or even on television. Therefore, the man experienced “culture shock”.
District Court Judge Troy Sweeney reportedly said Singh’s upbringing may have a role to play and he may not have been aware of what Australians consider “fully informed consent”, but that was not an excuse for his behaviour.
Reacting to this news, Netizens were outraged at Singh’s argument for his actions. One person commented, “Who cares if his parents and wife are not living in the country. He broke this countries laws, he should do the full time……the victims do not suffer less in 3 1/2 years, their suffering will go on for years.” Another said: “This is Australia , I dont care what’culture’ he was brought up in – that is not the culture here -give him what he deserves !”
Though it cannot be denied that there is a notion in India and among Indian men that it is acceptable to take physical advantage of women, especially foreigners, wearing revealing clothes in public, the fact that Singh and his lawyers thought it was a valid legal argument is alarming. In India, countless NGOs and women’s groups are fighting against the ‘rape culture’ and mistreatment of women, but for Adam and Singh to imply that Indians condone such behaviour and that it’s part of Indian culture to abuse and rape women is not only misrepresentation of facts but largely disturbing as well, since it projects Indian culture in a wrong and negative light.