“Why do men rape?” The writer who went undercover to investigate

Tara Kaushal:
Trigger Warning: Contains vivid details about rape.
“I was barely 5 when I was raped by my gardener. I only have blurry memories of it– his khaki uniform, penis and blood on my blue dress. I never told my parents. Then, when I was 12, we moved to Noida– I was stalked, molested and flashed at, fairly regularly on my way to school. My well-intentioned parents curtailed my access to the outdoors, policed my clothing and imposed curfews–I hated it.

                               Tara Kaushal
As I grew older, I started asking questions– ‘Why should the actions of men impact my life?’, ‘Why do they rape?’; ‘Why can’t they stop?’ but I found no answers. At 16, I started writing about sexual violence; I’d rant about my past.
But it was only in 2012 that my repressed traumatic memories were rekindled– the news of the Nirbhaya gang rape horrified me– it could have been me. That incident sparked the idea for a book; I wanted to write about rape.
Over the next four years, I read and planned; my spouse and I saved for it. I started working on it full-time in April 2017. I did a callout for interviewees via FB, knocked on every door– from NGOs, the police, detective agencies to local media. I spoke to countless women who had been raped to understand their journey. Then, I rounded off 9 rapists and went undercover to interview them.
One of the scariest men I interviewed was a political henchman– The serial rapist confessed to multiple rapes, unapologetically and even gave me permission to use his real name.
In another instance, in Jammu, I realised that my subject was laying a trap for me– he kept insisting I spend the night and made excuses to get me to do so. Along the way, I even met a dacoit and a gunrunner, it was both scary and exciting!
Nine months into the project, I had a complete meltdown. The stories kept haunting me– I was unable to sleep; I’d have blackouts. I’d wake up biting, kicking and screaming.
Many days, I’d just wish for this damn book to be over. I somehow pulled through it because I believed it was my responsibility to bring the truth to light. My family was by my side; Sahil, my partner did everything that he could to help me pull through; he even helped me write before the final submission.
Finally, I released my book this June. The response has been overwhelming– women from different parts of the world reached out and thanked me for writing it. My inbox overflows with messages like ‘I want men to read this book to be better and women to read it so that we continue our fight.’
Although traumatic, this has been my way of fighting back. Each time I’ve fought back and humiliated an aggressor, I’ve felt whole again. Perhaps, on some level this is my sense of closure… and I can finally begin to heal.”
Story Courtesy: Humans of Bombay.
 In Why Men Rape, Tara Kaushal sets out to understand the reasons through a detailed investigation which includes interviews and meetings with nine men who have an inclination to commit acts of sexual violence. The men interviewed for the book belong to all sections of societya doctor who rapes his twelve-year-old patient; an unemployed youth who has decided to kill his former lover; a youth who gang rapes; a serial gang rapist who doesnt believe rape exists. Alongside, the author gives insights from myriad survivors; world-famous experts; a jail inmate who observes and provides us with commentary on the principles of rape convicts inside a prison; and many more. It also talks about how hypersexualized mainstream cinema; prejudiced media coverage of rape cases; the explosion of pornography; and other historic and current factors have become collaborative agents in causing gender violence in India. At a time when sexual violence is crippling our society, Why Men Rape marks an important contribution towards making us aware of the problem and finding a way to stop it. (Source: Amazon)
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