For the many thoughts that come and go unannounced and the ones which refuse to budge out of my head…

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.

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Comments on: "Rape is Far More than a Law and Order Problem" (17)

  1. avery4peace said:

    took me a minute to figure out that you are writing from India. I live in the U.S. so i can’t really speak to the situation there. But I do wonder if women are that much better off here in the U.S. where sex is talked about TOO freely. Women still have to run a tough gauntlet of proof in court. But they are taken seriously when reporting rape, usually.

    • See, you’ve pretty much put it in perspective yourself.
      I’m not really in a position to judge how much or how freely should one discuss about sex.
      It’s just that people (children included) should be made ‘aware’ about it as early as they can understand.
      In a country like India, children are practically banned from hearing, talking or asking about anything related to sex. This kind of puts sort of a mental block in their minds from the very beginning (and they grow up with the same), that what they’re asking about is ‘dirty’, ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ and hence it’s something which is not supposed to be talked about at all. And that is one of the reasons why some children who get raped or molested, have no clue what’s happening to them or they’re just too scared to tell someone about it.
      For ages, women here have been a subjugated lot. The subjugation gets further reinforced by the fact that, here, the so called ‘honour’ of a family supposedly depends on her, and thus her virginity becomes everybody’s business.
      More than a sexual crime ‘rape’, here, is a weapon used to ‘demean’, ‘dishonour’ or ‘show them ‘their’ place’. It’s evident because in Hindi an innuendo for rape is ‘Izzat lootna’ which means ‘stealing of one’s honour’. And it is believed that once her honour (read: virginity) is gone, her life is ruined because apparently no one would marry her and society would look down upon her. And thus, only 1 out of 50 cases even get reported, and some rapist out there is celebrating his ‘manhood’ freely somewhere.
      What I’m implying here is that at least when we start talking a little more openly about sex and sexual crimes and start disassociating it with ‘honour’ and ‘reputation’ at least the assaulter get’s some fear into his head, instead of being assured that the victim will be so ashamed that she’d never even report it and he can go scot-free.
      Like you said, in the U.S., the only problem a woman faces is the proof bit, which can be there in any other crime, but she doesn’t go through all the social stigma a woman here is put through.
      So, being open about sex, and not making virginity and pre-marital sex an honour issue or everyone’s business (like it is in the U.S.), does solve half the problem, because then at least a fear is put into the rapists mind that the victim won’t be put through half the social stigma and can rightfully seek justice for it.

  2. It all starts from making children aware that they have the right to their bodies and they alone can decide who touches it and how. And by always being there for your kids and believing them in what hey report back to you.

    While societal norms will take decades to change, at least acceptance and support from families and friends is a necessary first step in overcoming the trauma of rape or molestation (or any trauma for that matter).

    In fact many books suggest that parents teach children correct names of bodyparts rather than more convenient names:) Parents need to work hard to overcome their own inhibitions in addressing these issues, but we do owe it to our children!

    • You’re absolutely right!
      Some parents should just make that step (some thankfully already have), so that in future their own children can be un-inhibited to pass it on to their kids.
      Secondly, the way society puts it is so superficial. No one can ever give a reasonable argument as to why pre-marital sex is taboo without talking about tradition, culture, religion, morals, and God.
      Messed up society I say.
      This outlook really needs to change for anything to change as such don’t you think?

  3. You know recently there have been some cases reported in newspapers where the victim agrees to marry the rapist and the Judge lets him off the hook. I find this disturbed on so many levels and I really hope that courts in India stop dispensing this kind of ‘justice’.

    • Thanks for bringing this up Aqua,
      And these are the very times I simply hate belonging to this country!
      You know, we should all sign a PIL to change this law, at least half the population would second us (hopefully?).

  4. You know it’s funny…how we, in general as a country and culture , have come from the times of Kamasutra and the celebration of love to a time where sex or anything related is considered an evil by most..ofcourse until and unless the woman has the license of marriage. It’s blatantly paradoxical. A rape victim, even if she wants to, cannot resume her normal life…coz of the taunts and sympathies thrown at her.
    i completely agree with you…for majority here…’rape’ is the death of woman’s dignity..and the end of life. They stop thinking of her as a normal human…who still has the life of her own…to experiment with it…to give it a direction.
    She is raped once…but after that…the public glare penetrates more into her life…making her drown herself in isolation….it’s a long time when ‘people’ will start behaving as ‘humans’…

    • So very true. I’m glad you brought this up. Most of the saffron brigade who talk highly about ‘traditions’ and ‘culture’ completely IGNORE the fact that ours was in fact a society where sex was looked at so openly and with so much more welcome than it is now.
      If only we could show these very ‘protectors’ of Indian culture, what Indian culture was all about, life would be so much simpler for a rape victim or women in general.
      Thanks for putting this across.

  5. Well I am glad that there are talks to include forced oral sex as rape. But AK what disturbs me is that in a world where the word equality is used more than hello we forget that men too suffer the same fate. But there is no provision under law or society to help such victims.
    Everyday when i open the newspaper i read about a case or two of rape but sodomy has never ever been reported. Child abuse yes but adlut men NEVER!!

    • You’re so right.
      In a way men are worse off. Because what they go through can sometimes be more traumatic than it would be for a woman. And it’ll be way more difficult for a man to come out in the open about it.
      The state needs to look into this matter more seriously.

    • There is still less awareness that men can also be raped and female rape is not restricted to a vaginal intercourse alone.

  6. //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.//

    Very true and aptly put AK.

    In India an act of sexual assault or rape against women is seen as a crime against ‘patriarchy’ not against a citizen – because the only thing that matters in this crime is that she has been raped by someone she is not (yet) married to.

    So if the criminal marries her it becomes okay for him to have raped her. And by the same logic once she is no longer ‘pure’ she is a ‘ruined woman’ and she has nothing to lose by being sexually assaulted further.

    • Thanks, IHM..
      And very rightly said, rape is a crime against ‘patriarchy’..
      Sometimes I feel so ashamed at how our country functions.. It’s just really sad..

  7. Rape has to be seen both as a law-and-order problem and a social evil, for it to be tackled.

    • very true..
      more than an assault to the victim, it is supposedly a crime against patriarchy..
      I does need to be looked at more seriously than it is being even now.

  8. A very right topic to put light on.
    Its not only you and me…who can change the whole present scenario…if everyone, every single person can go and think individually, certainly things can be under control.
    Everyday going through the news paper i find at least 2 to 3 rape cases and then i feel so pity of ourselves living amongst the rapist and doing nothing. Providing sex education for the name sake is not enough…the law and order should act strictly for the heinous act of ‘RAPISIM’.

    • Absolutely…
      The crime itself has hardly had any decrease, because the assaulter doesn’t go through even half the social stigma as the victim does..
      Only if we stop blaming the victim, and see the assaulter as bad instead will things begin to change, the other things will follow suite subsequently but as of now, these steps really need to be taken..
      Anyway.. Thanks a lot Mausumi..

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