How to Stop Rapes from Happening

How to deal with India’s rape epidemic.

You may have seen Vasu Primlani’s video on solutions to India’s rape crisis. The five-minute clip has gone viral on WhatsApp groups and online especially after the horrific gang-rape of an eight-year-old child in Kathua, Jammu, besides news from elsewhere in India of minors being raped and murdered.

Vasu Primlani, Indian stand-up comedian and international environmentalist, in Chandigarh. photo by Sandeep Sahdev

A child-rape survivor herself, Vasu is now one of the most prominent social entrepreneurs in the United States. She is also a somatic therapist, actor (her latest film was Badrinath ki Dulhaniya), environmentalist, professor (at institutions such as IIT, Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar, University of Michigan among others), besides also a dedicated triathlete, environmentalist, and one of India’s leading standup comedians.

She has received over a dozen environmental and economic leadership awards globally, including India’s Nari Shakti Award 2017.

We ask her about India’s ‘rape epidemic’.

In light of the Kathua and Unnao rapes, what are your views on rapists? Why do men rape?

Unnao and Kathua are the shame of India. At the same time, you have to know what causes rape to fix it. No child is born a criminal or a rapist. They are MADE into one. Men who rape have been through a great deal of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse as children. They have seen how violenceoperates. Who creates rapists? We do, as a society.

A  study on developmental experiences of child sexual abusers and rapists, which studied 269 sexual offenders (137 rapists and 132 child sexual abusers), found that compared to rapists, child sexual abusers reported more frequent experiences of child sexual abuse (73%) and early exposure to pornography (65% before age 10). In contrast, rapists reported more frequent experiences of physical abuse (68%), parental violence (78%), and emotional abuse (70%). Both child sexual abusers and rapists (>93%) reported frequent exposure to violent media during their childhood. Most offenders (94%) described having insecure parental attachment bonds.

These children grow to be adults, and to lack empathy – because no one considered their feelings in the first place.

Read more here


Delhi is not Bhopal Gas Tragedy

IMG_8660Harsh Vardhan (only the incumbent minister at Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Earth Sciences in the BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi) said, no need to panic, Delhi’s pollution is not an emergency like Bhopal gas tragedy.

Well. I’m glad you brought that up.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy was an industrial gas leak that occurred over two days in December 1984.  At least 3,787 people died; 16,000 deaths were claimed. It caused non-fatal injuries among 558,125 people.

According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director, Delhi’s air pollution killed 30,000 people in Delhi NCR each year, including 3,000 premature deaths among children.

According to a study done by the Economist, Delhi citizens would live on average an extra nine years if Delhi met WHO air quality standards.

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In Bhopal, half a million people were affected in that one instance, of which upto 16,000 died in that terrible tragedy. Delhi has a population of 22 million, of which 30,000 people die every year from air pollution.

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You are right in that Delhi is not an emergency like the Bhopal gas tragedy.

It is MUCH worse.

‘Dr’ Harsh Vardhan, if you can’t do science, do the math.




How to Make Love to a Woman – II

First, Do No Harm.

The first rule of love making is the Hippocratic oath. Its not just doctors who need to take it. Before you ask someone out, you need to know that you will do no harm when you get an answer you don’t like.

hippocraticIf you ask a woman out and she says no, and you are liable to hurt her, threaten her, or emotionally bully her, do yourself a favor, don’t ask anyone out.

If you are liable to bully a woman into subservience when you want something from her, don’t get into a relationship.

If you are liable to force a woman to have sex because you guys are already in bed, and you think she can’t say no that that point, you shouldn’t be in a relationship because you don’t know how to respect a woman yet.

The first rule of love is that it nurtures. Love means you lay claim to the wellbeing of the other person, and will always act in their best interest.

Love obeys. It does what its love directs it to: if she says yes, it’s a yes, if she asks you to do something, you do it (barring criminal acts, of course!), if she says no, you stop.

If you get angry when your love says no, if you want to force her into your bidding, its not love (come talk to me about it), and you are not ready to be in a relationship. If you get into a relationship in this state of mind, you will do more harm than good, and if the woman is able to, she will leave you eventually, bearing the scars of your ‘love’ on her. As will you.

How do you love a woman like that? First, you have to love yourself. Answer this for me: do you respect yourself? Do you love yourself?
I’ll talk about this in my next blog.



Helpless at the Mercy of Love

The Trauma of the Parent of an Autistic Child

In case you’re not aware: autism is a social behavior disorder. There are a few characteristics of autistic children: they will likely not know how to modulate their voice or actions, and – they are very sensitive. They often times react adversely to what they perceive as a sensory overload. To us, the noise that seems normal or routine, might seem impossible to deal with, or allow for, to the autistic child. Another significant characteristic of this trait is that it is lifelong. There is no known cure for it.

broken heartWhat this means for the parents is, they have to constantly deal with socially embarrassing situations. Both from their child, and from society. From the child in that the child might speak in a loud voice in a quiet, public environment, and attract attention, and from society, in that people might run away from the child because of the social stigma attached to special needs, particularly in India. These children, and parents, are rarely invited to birthday parties, or other social gatherings that other children are readily invited to. The parent of an autistic child feels that slight on behalf of her child, whether the child is aware of it, or not.

Another thing that these parents have to do is always be ‘on’: be constantly vigilant in case their child runs off, or tries to get out of a moving car. I know of a father who tried to keep a child from jumping out of a moving car, and got bit in the process.

These parents deal with constant emotional and even physical assault in executing their guardian duties.

Where parents of more conventional children can have down time, entrust their child to a caregiver, go watch a movie or a play, trust that their children are playing quietly, the parent of an autistic child has to be constantly vigilant, and are very concerned if they entrust their child to another, whether the child will be treated with respect and dignity, and they are also concerned for the caregiver, so s/he doesn’t suffer from burnout.

These parents also receive social displeasure. More often than not, people are not educated in terms of special needs or autism, and just assume the child is a brat who has not been raised properly, and instead of being understanding and compassionate toward the parent and child, express displeasure and censure toward them.

Besides being always ‘on’, these parents have to parent to their child for the rest of his/her life. With conventional children you know for the most part, one day the child will grow up, move out, get a job, and live an independent life. Where the active parenting timespan of a conventional child may be 21 years, the active parenting timespan of the parent of an autistic child would be around 60 years. That’s like running a marathon at sprint level.

There is one final concern I’d like to bring to your notice: the love and concern of the parent of an autistic child does not end with the parent’s demise. One of their biggest worries is: who will care for my child after I am gone?

Sometimes, one of the spouse leaves, unable, or unwilling to deal with this level of vigilance. In which case it leaves the other parent to be a single parent to an autistic child. I am currently providing somatic therapy to one such, and I cannot begin to fathom what she goes through on a daily basis.

The parents of autistic children are super parents. They go through trauma on a daily basis that is comparable to severe traumatic events, because they endure it every day for decades on end. Be extra, extra nice to them. Talk to them, talk to their child. Treat them with respect. Don’t pity them, don’t click your tongues around them. But do invite them for some coffee, and a biscuit. The universe owes them.



The Tragedy of the Touchless Divide

Women love to touch men and be touched by them. Men love to touch women and adore being touched by them. And yet, with a 1.3 billion population, we have men and women wandering around in India, desperate for love and affection, just to be held and caressed. Why?

The intimacy of a hug can make your day

The intimacy of a hug can make your day

I believe Indian men have not been adequately socialized to women so that they can touch women with honor and respect.

Today I saw a friend of mine kiss a male friend of her on the cheek with all her heart several times. The male friend, who had a beard, and had all the semblance of a macho man, accepted each kiss with a smile, and put his arm around her. She loved being in his arms. And I know for a fact that they were friends, and appreciated the trust each placed in the other. Publicly.

In my work as a somatic therapist I touch men and women very intimately. I work with their bones, and have to maneuver around sensitive areas like breasts to get at ribs, and the pelvic region for pelvic bones. Both among men and women, they trust my touch, and know it to be safe enough for them to be vulnerable in.

Our desire as human beings is often interpreted to be sexual desire. Oh, not just by others, by ourselves even. Its not. Much of our desire is for touch, intimacy, and most of all, trust. Trust that the other will not touch more than we offer, will not misinterpret this affection either physically or emotionally. We look for people who can engage with us by taking full responsibility for their emotions, and accepting what we offer them with humility and gratitude.

There are stages of emotional intelligence in terms of attitude towards women. The basic one is to think of a woman as an object. A higher one is to accede her respect as long as she fulfills your desire. A higher one than that is to approach a woman with respect, and respect everything she says, whether it is what you want or not. Even with lovers, it is critical to establish nights of non-sexual touching.

In India, comfort in touching between the genders is looked down upon, even sniggered at. The assumption is, if a man and woman touch each other in public, it is left to a (wild and perverse) imagination as to what must be happening in the bedroom. And the guy has ‘scored’ and ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’. No. Whole men are completely capable of holding women in their arms in safety from their sexuality. A famous Indian guru, Ammachi, knows the joy and power of hugging.

The first job of a male friend is to establish trust with a woman. The second job is never to violate it.

Men and woman can be loving, intimate friends, taking care of most of our needs as humans. We would be a much healthier, happier society for it.