[INDOLOGY] Sexual Harassment

Walter Slaje slaje at kabelmail.de
Mon Oct 17 19:54:44 UTC 2016

Before rashly jumping to a discussion of “rape” by tacitly presupposing a 21
st century Western understanding of its concept and performance also for
ancient India, a clarification is required of the concept(s) of “rape”
prevailing in premodern Indian thought. What unambiguous words and matching
notions have so far been recorded that would correspond to "rape" in
accordance with modern Western standards? What normative boundaries of,
e.g., “legal” types of marriage such as *rākṣasa *and* piśāca* – clear
cases of “rape” in Western terms I suppose – needed to be transgressed that
facts of rape would have been considered as fulfilled in premodern India?
Was *kanyā-dūṣaṇa* the same as “rape” in our understanding, or simply the
spoiling of a virgin so that she could no longer be married off and became
a serious damage to her parents?

In what way can the absolute power a husband would have exercised over his
wife (or wives) be categorised in contexts of "rape"?

Is there any connecting factor of the past that could be related to the
extraordinarily high number of filed gang rape cases in present-day India
as continuously reported by the Indian media? In this latter regard, a good
starting point could perhaps be Gyula Wojtilla's "Women at Work and Their
Enemies. A Reappraisal of the Kāmasūtra V, 5, 5 – 10" (I lack the
bibliographic citation of his paper at the moment).

In a more general sense, BĀU (M) VI 4,7 could also be revealing*, *if just
*ati-√kram* is not understood in line with Śaṅkara’s unconvincing attempts
at downplaying the matter, but in accordance with Iva Fiser's „overcome her
forcibly“ (*Indian Erotics of the Oldest Period*, Praha 1966: 116, a book
not without its merits).



Prof. Dr. Walter Slaje
Hermann-Löns-Str. 1
D-99425 Weimar

2016-10-17 20:08 GMT+02:00 Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com>:

> On 17 October 2016 at 22:48, Artur Karp <karp at uw.edu.pl> wrote:
>> Dear All,
>> Should I understand that there are no traces, no mentions of sexual
>> harrasment in the entire - vast - corpus of ancient/medieval Indian
>> literature?
> A search for *rape* as the Text Word in the Puranic Encylopedia under
> http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/scans/PEScan/2014/
> web/webtc2/index.php shows up the following:
> Rape of Rambhā by Rāvaṇa (VR, UK).
> Rape [sic] of Vedavatī by Rāvaṇa (VR, UK). In the VR, it is harassment but
> not rape. Probably the rape is described in some other R.
> Rape of Madanamañjarī by Rāvaṇa (source?)
> Rape of Cañcalākṣī by Rāvaṇa (KambaR)
> Rape of Arā, daughter of Śukra, by Daṇḍa (VR UK)
> Rape of Ugrasena's wife by the *Gandharva* Dramila (SB, 10th Canto)
> Attempt to rape Vinayavatī by Raṅgamālī (Kathāsaritsāgara)
> Attempt to rape Pramati by Nala, friend of Sudeva (Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa)
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