This Indian Sketch Comedy Group Is Taking on Rape Culture
The above video—staged as a public service announcement—has a message for women dealing with the trauma of rape and sexual assault: "It's your fault." Two Indian women (played by noted Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin and TV personality Juhi Pande) talks about how women cause rape because "men have eyes" and women often dress in provocative clothing. (The "provocative" clothing includes thick yellow raincoats and spacesuits.) "It's my fault," Pande says, as a stranger drags her away out of the blue. The pair run down a whole list of other ways women can cause rape to happen to them. "Another way women shamelessly propagate rape is by working late into the night," Pande says. "Ladies, why work late and be independent? In fact, why work at all? That's what husbands are for. Fun fact: If he's your husband...it's not rape."
Later in the video, Koechlin is shown bloodied, with gauze on her head. "If you tired of being humiliated by rape, you can always go to the cops and be humiliated by them instead!" she informs female viewers.
The video is, of course, satire. It ends with this simple note:
Posted to YouTube last Thursday, the video was created by All India Bakchod, an Indian sketch and stand-up comedy troupe influenced by comedians such as Louis C.K. and Patrice O'Neal. The video has since gained significant international attention for its blasting of rape culture, victim-blaming, and India's rape epidemic. (The sketch is in English, but there are hopes for a Hindi version.)
"I don't think we even expected much of a national response or for people to get the sarcasm behind it," Gursimran Khamba, an AIB co-founder, tells Mother Jones. "The fact that so many women and men across the world identified with it has been heartening but also made the experience more real because you realize the magnitude of the problem and the kind of attitudes women have to deal with."
Khamba runs All India Bakchod with Tanmay Bhat, Rohan Joshi, and Ashish Shakya. It all began as a podcast, which then evolved into AIB live shows, which then became a comic enterprise that includes creating online sketches. The group's name is play on the country's All India Radio; "Bakchod" is slang for talking trash—because the four eschew political correctness.
AIB's live performances regularly tackle social issues, religion, politics, and taboo topics. In their current live show (titled The Sex Show), they dedicate an hour and a half of sketch comedy and stand-up to the subject of the Indian sexual experience. "It's Your Fault" was inspired by their disgust toward the "hateful remarks" hurled at rape victims in India.
"We had been toying around with the idea of talking about how the police and society say stupid things to blame everyone but the perpetrators and did some live stand-up on the issue...in 2012 in our year-end news comedy special," Khamba says. "Since then the idea kept bouncing around until we started our YouTube sketch show."
The sketch was shot in mid-September, and they spent a few days seeking feedback from family, friends, and professors. Since it was uploaded to YouTube last week, it has gained over a million views.
"At no point have we trivialized rape, at no point have we added any frivolity to it," sketch co-star Pande told NDTV. "It's very dark and it's treated with a certain bit of sarcasm. It's not just education...it's about changing mindset, changing upbringing."
Front page image: Screenshot: All India Bakchod/YouTube