The Oxford dictionary defines rape as ‘The unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force to have sexual intercourse’.
Rape isn’t really a contemporary issue, it is a phenomenon which sadly, has been a part of our society and human history in general, since time immemorial. During all wars, the winning army ravaged the women of the losing one. If we look back in time, humans have a history of male superiority and aggressive behaviour. And till the recent past, a rapist was not even ‘publicly’ looked down upon.
It is only now, in today’s time that it has been widely accepted as a crime itself, and that to a heinous one. The committer of the crime does bear the consequences of the law, but the social stigma the victim goes through and the way she is looked down upon thereon is a much deep-rooted sociological problem.
Why is it so difficult for a victim to, let alone leave it behind, but at the least, come out in the open about it? Why is the victim blamed for being/dressing in a provocative manner? What is it that makes the assaulter fearless about committing the crime?
There is an imperative need for the laws to get more stringent, but more than that, we need to address the social aspect of the problem.
Isn’t it rather ironic, that in a country like ours where discussing sex is a taboo thing, rapes happen at an astonishingly high rate?
The very basic blemish in our society is the way we treat sex, moreover the way we look at ‘pre-marital’ sex. By conventional ideology of society, if a girl is not a virgin or is raped, she would have been considered ‘loose’, ‘dirty’, ‘immoral’, or just that she ‘deserved it’ for being dressed in a certain ‘immodest’ way.
Even if a rape-victim tries to seek justice, say, goes to a police station to do so, she is likely to be seen as all the above and there is a huge possibility of her advantage being taken there as well. In other words, it becomes a given that the fact that she already has been raped, she has nothing to lose by being sexually assaulted further. This is one of the reasons why a majority of the rape-cases in the country go un-reported.
If people at a young age itself are made to believe that ‘sex’ is something which is NOT ‘bad’, ‘dirty’ or taboo half the battle is won. The whole hush-hush-ness of the subject would stop and people would start treating it with more openness. As a result, at a young age, children would be more aware, and won’t be afraid to come and tell their parents if something or someone was bothering them. One needs to realise that by hiding these things from children, or not informing them about it (and hence not supposedly ‘polluting’ their minds), one is NOT making them safer.
Moreover, as an adult, if a girl is raped, she wouldn’t succumb to societal pressure and consider extreme measures like suicide. Instead she’d come out in the open about it and get support and work towards seeking justice, instead of simply trying to restore her ‘honour’ by pushing it under the carpet.
Another problem with how rape, or any form of sexual violence is handled in our country is the whole ‘social disgrace’ which comes with it. If we removed things like ‘morality’, ‘reputation’, ‘honour’, ‘what will people say?’, etc. from rape or other sexual violence, they would be dealt with without the victim being blamed, and thus, putting some fear into an assaulter’s mind.
Maybe someday, things would change for the better. If not a full stop in rape cases at least a change in the way we treat rape or any form of sexual violence. It is after all, more than just a law and order problem. It is also a grave social problem which needs to be dealt with by first correcting several flawed aspects of societal norms we were accustomed to.