The bikinis made them do it.
That’s the defense Goa, India’s state ministry of tourism responded with after a series of sexual assaults against tourists vacationing in the area, topping off most recently with the alleged rape of a 9-year-old Russian girl last week.
“You can’t blame the locals; they have never seen such women. Foreign tourists must maintain a certain degree of modesty in their clothing. Walking on the beaches half-naked (how else are you suppose to walk on the beach? Fully clothed?) is bound to titillate the senses,” said Pamela Mascarhenas, Goa’s deputy director of tourism.
Let me get this straight. Women (in some cases young girls) wearing bikinis in a tourist destination known for its renowned beaches are to blame for the rapes and sexual assaults on the rise in Goa, not the perpetrators – the “locals” – themselves who are committing the attacks. So women wearing bikinis at the beach are just asking to be raped?
This is victim-blaming – in this case bikini-blaming – at its worst. Not all together surprising in a highly patriarchal country that continues to devalue women, but nonetheless shameful.
“In India they still morally land the responsibility on the victim if the victim is a woman, because of cultural conditioning,” said 35-year-old Anurashi Shetty, a resident of Donapaula Goa. “[The impression is not always that] she must have done something to provoke it. It’s a national mindset.”
Making excuses for the men who commit rapes and blaming women for the violence committed against them is infuriating and moreover does absolutely nothing to address the problem of sexual assaults in the first place. Placing blame isn’t going to protect women vacationing in Goa or future beach-goers. Either is banning bikinis for that matter.
The notion too that “locals” cannot control themselves in the presence of women or young girls in bikinis is ridiculous, not to mention untrue. Seeing women and girls in bikinis may “titillate the senses” of some locals, but that does not give men the knee-jerk response to rape and it should not be used as an excuse for those who rape.
In the case of the most recent young Russian girl who was raped, her attacker had a calculated and planned attack, using an accomplice to distract her mother so he could lure her away and rape her behind a nearby rock. He did not spring into action at the sight of her in a bikini – he waited for the opportune moment, a moment that presented itself as a result of his planning.
Let’s face it. Bikinis aren’t going anywhere in Goa’s beach town, either are the tourists who visit every year for its renowned beaches.
What we do need to say bon voyage to is the victim-blaming mentality that leaves rapists absolved from punishment and with the freedom to rape again – that goes for Goa and the rest of the world.
Punit Paranjpe/Reuters - http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/india/100131/goa-sexual-assault-bikinis?page=0,0