“Let’s face it, ladies — rape is your fault! It all begins with what you wear. Scientific studies suggest that women who wear skirts are the leading cause of rape. You know why? Because men have eyes!”
That’s how a new parody video from the comedy group All India Bakchod begins. The video features two cheerful women sarcastically explaining why the sexual violence perpetrated against them is actually their fault. The actresses — who appear to be increasingly bruised and battered as the video progresses — joke that women choosing to work late into the night, cell phones, and Bollywood movies are all actually the root causes of rape. They also make a few jabs at the country’s law enforcement officials. “If you’re tired of being humiliated by rape, you can always go to the cops and be humiliated by them instead,” one of the women notes.
Since the comedy group released the video, it’s been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. The Times of India noted that the parody went viral within the first 48 hours, and one of the video’s creators told Al Jazeera that he’s getting requests to make a Hindi language version so it can reach a wider audience.
“The notion behind this video was pretty simple,” Gursimran Khamba, one of the co-founders of All India Backhod, explained in an interview with Al Jazeera. “We wanted to attack patriarchy as it exists in India. It sort of comes out every time there is a sexual assault case or a rape case. The first thing that happens, instead of focusing on the crime and looking at the perpetrator, the default for some reason is that the burden is always put on the woman.”
The issue of sexual violence in India has been particularly contentious over the past year. In December, a brutal gang-rape and murder on a New Delhi bus ignited national protests and calls for justice for the 23-year-old victim. (An Indian court recently sentenced the four perpetrators in that case to death.) In January, a United Nations report estimated that two Indian women are raped every 60 minutes, and exposed the persistent issues with the country’s legal system that discourage victims from reporting their sexual assaults. Several horrific gang-rapes perpetrated against tourists have encouraged foreign women to avoid setting foot in India this year, and the United Nations recently criticized the country for failing to take concrete steps to address rape culture. Despite the ongoing push-back, national officials have continued to suggest that women should do more to protect themselves from rape.
Khamba explained that his group wanted to tackle these ongoing issues through satire, instead of taking an overly preachy tone. They’re thrilled with the reaction. “We’re really happy to be able to see how we can use comedy to attack a problem that’s really widespread and really potent in India,” he noted.
Victim-blaming is hardly an issue that’s constrained to India. Here in the United States, sexual assaults are also often attributed to the type of clothes that victims choose to wear or the amount of alcohol that victims choose to drink. And rape cases are still notoriously under-reported in this country, often because of the same issues with law enforcement alluded to in the parody video.