Did you know that in the land where Kama Sutra was originated, sexual pleasure is being repressed for women and they are not allowed to express themselves freely? Yes, that is in India.
India, the land of Kamasutra, the land where female sexuality is highly repressed. Ironically, Kamasutra entails the freedom of expression in love making of two people. A part of it described the different sex positions of the male and the female, to both satisfy their needs. But in India, the culture that predominantly existed since Ancient scriptures until the Twentieth century, implements restriction among girls and young women of sex.
Premarital sex is considered immoral in India. In fact, if a woman be raped, the woman is treated not as a victim but an outcast, and her family is disgraced. Arranged marriages are the usual practices in India. And it is part of their belief that sex is viewed only for Man’s pleasure.
So where does this belief came from? Mohandas Gandhi. He, who led his country to freedom destroying the British Empire, considered as the “Great Soul” of India, also left a legacy that made the women of India suffer.
He despised his own sexual desires, and despised sex in any form and that sex is only for procreation. He teaches that the failure to control carnal urges led to complaints including the health of the individual such as constipation. He paralleled the sexual freedom to the failure of Indian as leaders. He believes that those women should carry responsibility for sexual assaults upon them. That legacy still exists.
In fact in 2009, in North India, Colleges are prohibited of women wearing tight jeans for it was too provocative for men. According to the World Economic Forum, India is towards the very bottom of the gender equality index. As of 2017, India falls 21 places in global gender equality report, and ranks 108 in 144-nation list. This clearly shows how women were suppressed not only sexually, but also in their roles in society and in politics.
An Indian writer Khushwant Singh, said that nine-tenths of the violence and unhappiness in India derives from sexual repression. In this context, Gandhi’s influence to motivate the great power of non-violent political revolution was a legacy. However the violence of his thoughts towards women has enormously contributed to many killings and immeasurable suffering.
To this date, the legacy of Gandhi on sexual repression among women has become an argument between conservative and liberal parties as well as to religious groups. Freedom and equality have been discussed. One of the incidents that greatly condemned sexual repression was the incident of the 2012 New Delhi Gang Rape where in a 23 year old female physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh Pandey, was beaten, gang raped, and tortured in a private bus in Singapore with her friend. She and her friend were raped and beaten to death by six others in a bus including the driver.
The incident was broadcast on national and international coverage and was widely condemned, especially in India. Subsequently, there were several public protests against the state and central governments to amend the existing laws on India, that in their long held practice, they deny the existence of rape or blame the victim rather than the perpetrator. As a result of these protests, in 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 was signed by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Several new laws were passed, and six new fast-track courts were created to hear rape cases in India. The victim which was named Nirbhaya, meaning “fearless”, have been a symbol to end the women’s struggle in India, ending the rape culture, and ending the culture of sexual repression. Change is inevitable.
Change is constant, and change cometh to India. Little by little, the legacy of sexual repression and discrimination may be totally eradicated. A sense of responsibility towards the view of sexual freedom is only necessary to both sexes, whether male or female. Female or male, they are Humans, and have the right not to be sexually repressed.