Mannequins Don’t Cause Rape and Chili Powder Won’t Stop Rape

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The municipal council of Mumbai, India recently passed a resolution that would ban mannequins displaying lingerie or other scantily-clad clothing from being put outside of retail stores. This resolution is meant to be an anti-rape measure. Ritu Tawde, a city council member, proposed the ban because she believes that such displays provoke men to attack women.

Ritu Tawde told India media,

“Lingerie mannequins promote rapes. Skimpily clad mannequins can pollute young minds. After the Delhi rape case [last December], I felt something had to be done.”

This measure comes after Indian Police Commissioner Raghuvanshi suggested that the solution to the rape problem in India is to have women not go out at night, but if they do go out, they should throw chili powder at rapists.

In India, women were victims in 228,650 out of the 256,329 violent crimes reported in 2011, so I get that there’s a desire to do something, especially with the recent stories of violence against women.

But look, guys. Carrying chili powder and banning mannequins won’t stop rape.

Telling women that they should not go out at night and that they should carry chili powder implies that rape is somehow their fault. I know it’s been said, but I’ll say it again: Women should not be afraid of going out at night. They should not be constantly worrying about the threat of rape. If an entire group of people have to adjust their behavior to be safe in society, there is something wrong with that society.

Let’s not forget what this kind of law says about men. This resolution assumes that mannequins provoke men into raping women simply because mannequins replicate women’s bodies. This assumes that men are helpless creatures that are provoked by anything that merely represents a woman’s body. But men are better than that. Men aren’t inherently violent, they’re not illogical, and just like everyone else, they have reasoning. Simply because a man sees a mannequin wearing a swimsuit or lingerie does not mean that they will then desire to rape a woman. It’s utterly ridiculous and offensive to men.

These “solutions” to the rape epidemic in India basically say that men inevitably rape women, that they are helpless and provoked easily, and that the way women dress and when they go out are truly to blame for the violence perpetrated against them. In reality, rape is caused by rapists—not by going out at night, not by scantily-clad mannequins, and not by scantily-clad women.

It’s time that everyone learned that.