The 'rape' of Ms Shilpa Shetty

Though India seems preoccupied with sex, they seem equally as preoccupied with morally oppressing it.

By Asian Sex Gazette Staff
April 25, 2007

Indian actress Shilpa Shetty
Apparently to some it almost resembled a Bollywood rape scene on screen. Only the victim was not screaming or resisting. She was giggling with her eyes closed and seemed to be quite appreciative of what was going on.

To an outraged public it was not an affectionate hug, but it was a passionate, sexual embrace.

Hearing them describe the controversial cuddle sounds something like this: "Gere held her with his arms and legs in a breath-taking grip, bent her down, pressed his torso and hips against her soft body. It looked as if he was overcome with passion and could not control himself. He was evidently unaware of the large audience that had come to participate in an AIDS awareness programme. He was totally oblivious to the world and got into a tight, blissful embrace..."

Gere is regarded as a serious and charitable man, often dedicating his time to caring for people around the world through his work with various HIV/AIDS awareness, support and prevention programs.

Indian actress Shilpa Shetty did not think there was anything wrong in what Gere had done, she said later.

But some critics seem to feel that the 'passionate embrace' would have attracted a fatwa if it happened in some Middle Eastern countries.

Gere perhaps would have been more careful if he was aware of the kind of moral policing that exists in India. The moral police are not just in the police force, but they are all over the place, angrily condemning all 'immoral activities' and swearing by India's ancient and glorious heritage.

Women in various organizations are mounting attacks on Gere. They have not only condemned the 'obscene' display at the AIDS meet but also declared such amorous happenings will not help the AIDS awareness programme.

Maybe they wanted Gere to wear a condom?

Meanwhile the 'victim' has given a clean chit to Gere. Shetty has stated it was just 'entertainment' and nothing else.

Yet those mounting the attack on Gere say that Shilpa Shetty should have, instead of giggling, fought against his 'sexual attack', screamed and strongly put up resistance.

Instead of doing this 'she seems to have enjoyed it all'. They want her to say nasty things about Gere - that he looks like a sex maniac, that she was taken by suprise, that her giggling should not be regarded as a sign of ecstasy she was experiencing, but was a result of pain and embarrassment. They are prepared to let the 'victim' go scot free if she were to agree with them and state that she was an unwilling partner in the 'obscene' act.

The moral police

Shilpa Shetty
India's moral police are again beating their drums. Recently a female minister who hugged a paratrooper in France found herself in trouble. The minister was participating in an air-drop exercise and when they came down to earth, she got a hug. A fatwa has been issued against her and she has since said her life is in danger.

There was a time in India when a scantily-clad girl could not be shown on the screen. When for the first time the bare leg of an actress was shown four decades ago there were strong objections, but people still flocked to the theatre and the film became a big box office hit.

Slowly, bit by bit, nudity has been revealed in Indian films and accepted. Yet kissing has never been allowed and is still not done. As the faces of the male and female actors come together, the scene gives way to two doves shown pecking or some other such fade-out transition.

Morality seems to be geographical in that it differs from nation to nation.

What is moral in Britain may be immoral in India.

Perceptions about morality also keep changing. In the Victorian period in England, there were stiff regulations about woman's dress. Sex was taboo. Great writers like DH Lawrence, Oscar Wilde and many others were harassed because they presented sex in their books.

Some of these morals arrived in India along with colonial rule. Indians began to accept the stiff moral codes of the British. Today when Indians talk of 'their heritage', they refer to the morals which existed during the colonial rule rather than early Indian history.

For example, Indian women in ancient times were far freer than even in today's soceity. A woman could choose any man she wanted as her husband. And every warrior was a Casanova and he was admired for his amorous activities. Take the Pandava hero Arjuna for instance; whenever he conquered a new kingdom, he had affairs with attrative women of the kingdom.

In the elite circles, the women exposed themselves stark naked and bathed in moonlight. Compare their dress to the clothes women wear today. Looking at early texts and paintings you can see how Draupadi - the daughter of King Drupada, who becomes the wife of the five Pandavas and then known as Princess Krishna - used to dress. If she walked down Dadabhai Nowroji Road today, people would be scandalized. A woman's breasts were squeezed into a tiny bit of a bra which at the back had only thin strings. Almost the entire back was bare. The neck region, arms and the armpits were also not covered.

But today people who seem to know nothing about early Indian civilization and the values India's ancestors cherished, shout themselves hoarse from roof tops and decide what is moral and what is not.

Even Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty on a stage where an AIDS awareness program is being discussed and dedicating their time for a charitable cause can find themselves the target of India's moral police.

Still some are just largely amused. A female Bandra resident is reported to have responded to Gere's embrace of Shetty saying, ¡§When I looked at them, I thought I was looking at a blue film.¡¨

The woman evidently has not seen a blue film, but maybe it is time she did.

Agencies and staff contributed to this report

© 2005 Asian Sex Gazette.
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