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 Blooming Stars

Sexual Exploitation of Women

            Primitive man protected his woman. The strongest man took the best and the most beautiful women around as their mates. Later on kings or war lords touring their kingdom pointed to the most beautiful young women to be brought to their palace and exploited them sexually. It is interesting to note that the biblical King David, who is reported to have written the great Psalms that are held in high esteem and recited frequently in prayer by Christians, and who in spite of having several hundreds of concubines of his choice, still plotted and killed his favorite general in order to get his wife whom he coveted. In the first half of twentieth century, women and children were considered to be chattel at the disposal of men. In other words, women at that time did not have human rights. It was only in 1920 that the United States of America, with the passing of the 19th amendment of its Constitution after a long and arduous women’s suffrage movement started in the 1830’s by determined and conscientious women against all odds, granted women the rights to vote.

            A synonym for women in India is abala (not strong) or pativrita (vowed or loyal to husband all the time). Anasuya (a woman with no jealousy), who is described in the epic, Ramayana, is the model of pativrita for all women. It is sati Anasuya who explained to Sita the grandeur and importance of being a sati (the ancient Indian tradition of immolation of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband). Once trinity, (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), decided to test the chastity of Anasuya. The trinity came to Anasuya’s house in the form of three Brahmins, and asked Anasuya to serve them food while naked. Anasuya, after much hesitation, decided to serve them food without any dress but only after converting the Brahmins into children using her pativrita shakti (power). Women all over the world are supposed to take care of the needs of men. With women’s rights movement, and women coming to their own consciousness as persons with equal rights as men, things have changed greatly at least in the US. Things are beginning to change in India.

            According to recent estimates, one out of every five women in the US has suffered some form of sexual abuse. I have not come across comparable statistics or estimates for India. As a practicing clinician, my own estimate in India is the same if not higher as India, in general, is a very closed society. Women are very reluctant to talk about their experience of sexual abuse in India. If they do, it is often when they are gripped by the fear of going insane. At this point I am not going to get into male and female sexuality. But it is important to note that male sexuality is more genitally focused. Women’s sexuality is more diffused in that the psychic arousal is very important for bodily arousal. For sexual intimacy they need to truly experience love for the man. Otherwise the sexual experience would be more like a commercial transaction as in prostitution. Due to learned helplessness and undue dependence of women on men fostered by systematic cultural programming, women especially those with inadequate personality, are willing to submit to men after persistent pursuing and demands.

            These women do not really want to have sexual relationships but end up in them as they feel helpless and trapped. They endure a sexual relationship and deal with it in a dissociative way. Their spirit and psyche are not there while their body goes through sexual expression mechanically. After suffering this kind of sexual act in the state of what may be called a disembodied transaction or dissociative reaction, some of these women can also be a terror, and engage in physical violence and destruction. Women more than men are likely to possess inadequate personality with depressive and dissociative features. Men take advantage of women and girls in many ways. Some men, for instance, intentionally rub against women in crowded buses or trains. My intention in this article is to conscientize men and women about sexuality so proper boundaries are kept, and no sexual exploitation of any kind takes place. It is high time that our society openly deals with realities of life. Again, for humanity to arrive at its destiny, absolute respect for every human being – man and woman – is essential.


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