November 12, 2014
Turn the pages of any news daily in any language on any day or turn on the news channel of your choice on any given day, seldom will you pass a day without reading or hearing a story of petrifying, terrorizing and dehumanizing rape on a woman or abuse of a child taking place in some part of India! The incessant and unabated terror of rape on a land known for its culture and tradition has indeed brought India to limelight for the wrong reasons to say the least. The metaphor of terror or terrorism to describe the phenomenon of rape is apt because no girl or woman today can feel cent per cent secure in India as she steps out of her house during any time of day or night. The horrifying incidents of rape reported every other day have created a sense of phobia and uncertainty in the female population.
Almost two years have elapsed since the brutal and animalistic act of rape perpetrated on a physiotherapy student in Delhi on Dec 6, 2012 on a moving bus –what is better known as the Nirbhaya case - and the country has witnessed numerous sexual assaults on women in different parts of India since then. Nirbhaya case which evoked an unprecedented public hue and cry against the crime of rape should have put a permanent full stop to similar crimes or at least reduced them significantly. Despite the introduction of stronger legislation in many states, the said crime continues unabated.
Last year again, a medical student of Manipal University was abducted from the premises and gang raped. The incident, however, did not grab as much attention of the nation as the Nirbhaya case. The suspicious rape and murder case of Sowjanya, a pre-university student of SDM College Ujire, a town on the outskirts of Mangalore city has not seen a decisive end in spite of order for high level enquiry by the CID and CBI. This incident that cast the needle of suspicion on a high profile personality has failed in finding justice to the victim and its family so far.
In an interview to a private news channel, a female CBI officer narrated her agony of desperately waiting for justice in a case where she herself was the victim of sexual atrocities by a colleague. What does this imply in this case and innumerable other similar cases? Justice delayed is justice denied!
In the last few months, Bangalore known as the IT hub all over the world hit the headlines for child rape incidents that occurred in school premises. What shook the conscience of the parents and the civil society is the fact that the perpetrators were the staff of the so called International school! Another similar incident of child abuse in a different International school in Bangalore recurred much before the implementation of the security guidelines issued by the GOVT of Karnataka! That apart there have been many similar ghastly incidents of rape but did not receive the same media attention.
In the most recent unbelievably brutal incident, a woman in Rajasthan was forced to suffer humiliating public punishment after being accused of killing her nephew. Stripped of all her clothes, the woman was paraded naked on a donkey on the orders of village elders. Further her hair was cut short, face was blackened and was beaten. “Instances of public shaming are common in India and women can be stripped and paraded naked as a form of humiliation and punishment.”, reports Mirror of United Kingdom. What an image of itself India is projecting to the rest of the world!
There have been many instances of women being gang raped or paraded naked as a punishment for falling in love with the boy or man from a different caste! The West Bengal case of gang rape is particularly troubling, because it was allegedly ordered by a council made up of village elders. Such councils are not legally binding in India, but they are socially very powerful. The councils decide on social norms in the village, and in some cases they dictate the way women should dress or who they should marry. Those who flout the councils risk being ostracized. In a similar incident, a few years back, a girl was paraded naked through the village with the mob chasing and abusing her along the way. Incredible India! Where are the so called custodians of culture and self-proclaimed moral police!?
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 24,923 cases of rape were reported in India in the year 2012. It is worth-noting that these statistics are only about the reported cases! God alone knows how many similar cases have slipped under the carpet or not being reported at all! In a country where sex is taboo and not a topic to be discussed in the public, the voice of victims of rape is enfeebled. Often their worst fear is who would marry them once they are known as rape victims.
Even as the incidents of rape are being increasingly reported, the statements issued by a few irresponsible politicians are annoying. The best example to the case in point is that of Samajwadi party head Mulayam Singh Yadav who spoke in a justifying tone that it is natural for boys to commit such crimes! (Boys are after all boys). Related to child abuse incidents in Bangalore recently, Karnataka politicians namely Eshwarappa of BJP and Ivan D'Souza of Congress stooped to a new low in using sexist language and exploiting the topic of rape for political gains!
The million dollar question now is whether the rape is increasing or is it being highlighted more nowadays? This is a topic that needs serious research because recently when the home minister and chief minister of Karnataka were quizzed about the increasing incidents of rape, they retorted, “The media is looking for news on rape for increasing its TRP rate”. The intention of the media for reporting rape is a subject of introspection. Having said that the Government cannot escape from admitting the fact that there is no smoke without fire; no reporting without the crime!’
It has been reported that 40% of the schools in India do not have separate toilets for girls. Majority of the households in rural India do not have a toilet at home and are forced to answer the Nature’s call in the open. In many such situations, women and girls have become soft targets of sexual perverts. The pervasive caste system is still an excuse for many offenders against women in some parts of India. The gang rape incidents during the post Godhra Gujarat riots revealed rape could be used as a powerful weapon to display hatred and hegemony. The rape of female toddlers as young as 3 reveal that it is nothing short of a psychological disorder. It s a pernicious disease.
No single reason can be cited for every rape case. The background of the crime, psychological state of the offender need to be analyzed to arrive at the cause of this abominable crime.
So what is the panacea for this menace? Man who landed on moon, man who sent MOM to Mars is incapable to finding a lasting solution to this?
Every time there is a rape people and politicians urge that the guilty should be stringently penalized. True. But unless and until we have suitably man powered investigative agencies, enough number of fast track courts, justice will be delayed or just denied!
The current process of investigation of rape by the police and subsequently by the medicos is such that it is almost as traumatizing as rape Itself. In India hospitals had no separate departments to handle rape cases, not even uniform guidelines for the doctors to diagnose and confirm rape. What is relieving is that the Union Health Ministry, which has drawn new guidelines for treating rape victims, has asked all hospitals to set up a designated room for forensic and medical examination of victims besides outlawing the two-finger test performed on them, dubbing it as unscientific
Although there are guidelines for the cops, the ones who violate them make the victims re-experience the agonizing moments of rape
The law of the land though independent seems to be in favour of those who can afford lawyers charging exorbitant fees. The victims often cannot afford the three-tier justice system. Tougher laws make sense when they are properly implemented. Providing security, financial and moral support to the victims can make them stronger and steadfast in their legal fight against their offenders.
Laws alone cannot create wonders. What we need is metamorphosis in our patriarchal thinking. The cultural construct of woman as an object of pleasure as often projected in films and Ads needs to see a sea change. Encouraging women to take up a profession can empower them financially which in turn would give then the confidence to desist unsolicited male advances.
Incidents of rape are not less in developed countries. Despite scientific and technological progress, sexual violence has become commonplace. Nevertheless that is in no way a justification for a developing country like India for the brutal rapes. Before India is branded as ‘the rape capital of the world’, let’s arise and awake for a positive action. Let there be ‘anti-rape campaign on the lines of ' Clean India campaign!'