Two Mumbai women have a strong message for Indian society: It’s time to change the way culture treats women and put an end to misogyny. Pankhuri Awasthi and Uppekha Jain, or the BomBaebs as they call themselves on YouTube, uploaded their video #RapAgainstRape on Monday, and it’s caught the attention of the international community.
The video is important for a lot of reasons. India, the world’s largest democracy as the lyrics point out, has a huge problem with rape culture and misogyny. The stark way in which these women call out the various sexist bullshit they and other women have to deal with covers a lot of ground and encompasses a lot of issues. From slut shaming to femicide, they draw clear linkages between the most egregious and the most rationalized forms of oppression.
Their release also comes on the heels on the banning of “India’s Daughter,” a documentary about rape in India, highlighting the need for national discourse on this heartbreaking problem. The film features an interview with Mukesh Singh, who was one of the men responsible for the 2012 gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh. The assault, which took place on a bus, brought global attention the state of rape culture in India, but Singh’s statements show just how deep that culture runs.
“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he says in the film. “Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.” He also goes on to fault the woman for fighting back against her attackers, and suggests that cracking down on rapists with harsher penalties will only lead to more murders by men who do not want to be found out.
But there’s also another layer of importance to the video. Although half of the video is in Hindi and a few of the terms are clearly India-specific, this video could have just as easily been made in the United States. We have a wide discussion on rape culture here in the West, but we also tend to associate widespread cultural misogyny that leads to rape and murder as a distinctly “Other” problem. Societies we see as being unwelcoming or hateful towards women are somehow perceived as different from our own, and the violence those women endure is given less attention.
So many of the concerns raised in this video apply to women around the world, from misguided legislative focus (“Instead of banning beef, swear words, and a sexy undergarment / grow some balls and ban criminals in Parliament”) to consent (“It’s only a dress / Don’t for a second think it’s a yes”). Never has #YesAllWomen felt more real.
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