The Word ‘Rape’ is Used Casually by Many Indian Men: So is it Fair to Target Salman Khan?

Ever since the Delhi gang rape (Nirbhaya case of 2012), Indian civil society (especially the various women’s group) have become intolerant of any prominent person making insensitive/crass remarks about sexual violence against women.

So when Salman Khan made the insensitive remark where he compared himself to a “raped woman” after his grueling shoots, the incident sparked a major controversy (Social media indeed helped to amplify the noise).

Reaction to the Controversy

Reaction to Salman Khan’s rape analogy started pouring in – most criticizing him, while some defending him saying the ‘rape’ remark was being taken out of context.

  1. The National Commission for Women (NCW) demanded an apology from Salman Khan and even issued summons.
  2. Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Shaina NC strongly criticised Salman. “It might be a slip of tongue but there is no rationale to it. The Salman everyone knows respects women and if he does respect women, then he should admit he made a mistake and apologise.”
  3. The National Commission for Women (NCW) not only slammed Salman Khan but has demanded an apology within seven days or else he would be summoned.
  4. Asha Pande, mother of ‘Nirbhaya’ who was fatally gang raped in 2012 in a moving bus in New Delhi, said “It is wrong for a star like Salman to say this, he has made fun of rape victims.”
  5. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap criticised Salman Khan for his rape analogy, saying it was “thoughtless” – riding high on the success of ‘Udta Punjab’?
  6. During the interview, after making the remark, Salman hastened to add, “I don’t think I should have…” – It suggests he realised he should not have made such a comparison, and that it was a mistake
  7. The journalist, interviewing Salman, also didn’t think that his analogy was inappropriate, but instead laughed over the comment.

Here’s What Salman Khan Said

Salman Khan, in an interview to promote “Sultan”, said that he felt like a “raped woman” after one grueling shoot.

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“While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because if I was lifting, I’d have to lift the same 120-kilo guy 10 times for 10 different angles. And likewise, get thrown that many times on the ground. This act is not repeated that many times in the real fights in the ring. When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman walking out…” Salman hastened to add, “I don’t think I should have…”, (the next few words were not clear).

Family Defends Salman Khan

As it happens most of the time, his dad Salim Khan apologised on Twitter on Salman’s behalf.

“Undoubtedly what Salman said is wrong, the simili [sic], example and the context. The intention was not wrong. Nevertheless I apologise on behalf of his family, his fans & friends. Forgiveness is to pardon the unpardonable or it is no virtue at all. To err is human, to forgive divine. Today on Intl Yoga Day, lets not run our shops on this mistake,” Salim Khan said in a series of tweets.

This is what Salman’s brother, Arbaaz Khan had to say.

“There is no doubt that whatever Salman said, the intention was not wrong. It was a comparison quite akin to someone saying there was a huge mountain on my shoulders or I worked like a donkey. Now, will the usage of the word ‘donkey’ make animal activists upset? Sometimes, certain things you say are out of context and the meaning which is not bad. But if you become over sensitive over it, then it will become a controversial issue.”

No Apologies from Salman Khan

But despite the controversy, neither did Salman Khan apologise for his comments, nor did he (or anybody on his behalf) appeared in person to explain his remark to the summons by National Commission for Women (NCW).

“He didn’t even send his lawyer to represent him. We are not at all happy with this. He will now get another summons,” said a member of the Women’s Commission.

While people were unhappy with Salman Khan’s comments, they’re even more miffed that Salman did not even bother to apologise.


However, there are a few who see the issue differently (and with a broader perspective).

Its a known thing that most Indian men (across various economic strata of the society) casually use the word ‘rape’ to describe defeat or failure, or when things are really bad.

Nobody objects when our colleague/classmate/friend talks of being ‘raped’ – be it in sports, or in the gym, or during exams, or in an interview?

So when a majority of men use the rape remark, is it fair to target only Salman Khan (that is probably the reason Salman did not apologise)?

While this doesn’t mean what Salman said was right (more so because he’s a celebrity, he should be more careful with his words), its important that we all resolve to stand up to such jokes or analogies whenever or wherever its spoken (be it our boss/colleague/friends).

This issue is not just about making Salman submit to the demands of some commission, but needs to be looked at (and enforced) at a much bigger level in India.