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PHILOSOPHY > THE MIND OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Crimes against Women

 

Crimes Against Women

Women's Honour
I HAVE always held that it is physically impossible to violate a woman against her will. The outrage takes place only when she gives way to fear or does not realize her moral strength. If she cannot meet the assailant’s physical might, her purity will give her the strength to die before he succeeds in violating her.

Take the case of Sita. Physically she was a weakling before Ravana, but her purity was more than a match even for his giant might. He tried to win her with all kinds of allurements, but could not carnally touch her without her own physical strength or upon a weapon she possesses, she is sure to be discomfited whenever her strength is exhausted. (H, 1-9-1940, p. 266)


It is my firm conviction that a fearless woman, who knows that her purity is her best shield can never be dishonoured. However beastly the man, he will bow in shame before the flame of her dazzling purity. ……

I therefore recommend women…to try to cultivate this courage. They will become wholly fearless if they can and cease to tremble as they do today at the thought of assaults…. Parents and husbands should instruct women in the art of becoming fearless. It can best be learnt from a living faith in God. Though He is invisible , He is one’s unfailing protector. He who has this faith is the most fearless of all….

When a woman is assaulted she may not stoop to think in terms of himsa or ahimsa. Her primary duty is self-protection. She is at liberty to employ every method or means that come to her mind in order to defend her honour. God has given her nails and teeth. She must use them with all her strength and, if need be, die in the effort. The man or woman who has shed all fear of death will be able not only to protect himself or herself but others also through laying down hi (or her) life. (H, 1-3-1942, p. 60)


In the society in the midst of which we are living, such outrages take place…. A non-violent man or woman will and should die without retaliation, anger or malice, in self-defence or in defending the honour of his womenfolk. This is the highest form of bravery. (H, 15-9-1946, p. 312)


The art of dying bravely and with honour does not need any special training, save a living faith in God.
(H, 5-10-1947, p. 334)

Prostitution
Prostitution is as sold as the world, but I wonder if it was ever a regular feature of town-life that is today. In any case, the time must come when humanity will rise against the curse and make prostitution a thing of the past, as it has got red of many evil customs, however time-honoured they might have been.
(YI, 28-5-1925, p. 187)


The proper method of dealing with brothels is for the women to carry on a double propaganda, (a) amongst women who sell their honour for a livelihood, and (b) amongst men whom they must same into behaving better towards their sisters whom they ignorantly or insolently call the weaker sex.

I remember years and years ago in the early nineties when the brave salvation Army people, at the risk of their own lives, used to carry on picketing at the corners of the notorious streets of Bombay which were filled with houses of ill-fame. There is no reason why some such thing should not be organized on a large scale. (H, 4-9-1937, p. 233)


"Prostitutes" is commonly supposed to apply to women of lewd character. But the men who indulge in vice are just as much, if not more, prostitutes than the women, who, in many instances, have to sell their bodies for the sake of earning a livelihood. The evil practice should be declared illegal. But the law can only help to a point. The evil exists clandestinely in every country in spite of the law. Vigorous public opinion can help the law as it also hinders. (H, 15-9-1946, p. 310)