People, beliefs or society - who takes the blame for rape culture?

People, beliefs or society - who takes the blame for rape culture?
Image Credit: Election Facts

The most concerning issue in India, which even exceeds the issue of the pandemic, is the concern about rape. Nationally, it cuts across gender lines, where men (91%) and women (89%) alike say that rape is a very big issue. The numbers alone say that there is something off about this as women are more likely to become the victim in these cases although there are a number of men who either do get molested/raped or become a victim of false accuses, this was a study done right after the Nirbhaya case and in a country where city and countryside often divide on key issues, about nine-in-ten urban (89%) and rural (91%) Indians, alike, say that rape is a very big problem.

Nearly as many in India’s cities and villages also think the problem is growing (83% rural; 81% urban). Concern about rape also cuts across party lines. Supporters of both the BJP and Congress Party are about as likely to fault the current laws (77% BJP supporters; 75% Congress supporters) and the police (79% BJP supporters; 80% Congress supporters) for being too lax in cases of rape. 

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2019, 88 rapes take place every day in India on an average. The conviction rate, however, paints a different picture, the conviction rate is as low as 27.8%, which in layman’s terms is only 28 people get convicted out of a 100.    

According to NCRB data, the rate of crimes against women increased from 58.8 to 62.4 from 2018 to 2019.

There were 32,033 incidents of rape in India in 2019, in which the crime rate for rape was the highest in Rajasthan with 5,997 rapes reported in the past year, Uttar Pradesh had 3,065 incidents, Madhya Pradesh with 2,485, Maharashtra had 2,299 incidents, Kerala 2,023 and Delhi reported 1,253 rape cases in 2019, these were the states with the highest number of incidents.

The NCRB figures assume significance as it also shows that in many cases, victims don’t approach the police complaining about rape or sexual assault. One of the common reasons why criminals don’t get punished is the poor police investigation. Reasons such as hostility of witnesses and complainants and the familial pressure on the victim also play a role. (The Indian Express, October 2020)

With the crimes against women skyrocketing, there are false accusations that have surfaced and have reportedly ruined many lives as well, which has made a base for the argument that people think that women are also to be blamed in what is termed as crimes against women, which by the way it sounds is anomalous. The said argument is that men aren’t always to be blamed for the cases in which men force themselves among women.

According to studies, in India rapes has much to do with caste, social status, and most obviously, gender. Here are the headlines from the beginning of this year:

  1. Woman kidnapped from Patna mall, raped at gunpoint
  2. Two arrested for a gang-raping 19-year-old student in Bhopal
  3. Man 'sexually assaults' 5-yr-old girl in Hyderabad
  4. Two held for abducting, raping minor in UP
  5. Man absconding after raping minor daughter in Punjab's Ferozepur
  6. 14-days judicial custody for Assistant Superintendent arrested on rape charge
  7. Two minors among six held for teenage girl's rape in Meghalaya
  8. Four-year-old girl abducted, raped by a relative
  9. Man held for raping colleague on the promise of marriage

All of these were just a few of the headlines that were out only in January, and it paints a picture of how the concern is extremely pressing, and in the light where arguments like, “no one teaches their son’s not to rape” are stated against flyers that say “don’t tell your daughters what not to wear and teach your sons not to rape".

Sikkim Chronicle conducted a random survey with people of varying ages, social backgrounds, gender identities, and sexualities to paint a better picture on what they think about the gender’s as well as the parent’s roles on the issue of rape and what their personal opinion other than there was about the topic.

Out of the people surveyed 70% of the people didn’t blame anyone but underlying issues governing the decision making, mindset, and thought processes of the rapists and 30% people blamed the men saying claiming that there is an inherent lust in the ways of men. 85% people said that it is the job of the parent to teach what is right and what is wrong early on, a few said that there is an inherent lust in men that comes early on and has to be regulated, 10% said that girls need to be taught self-defence.

Shivani Thapa, 23, a psychology student studying in Bangalore, says, “There is a lot to assess when it comes to rape, if there are any ulterior motives or if it was impulsive, if the person was disturbed mentally or just downright evil, however, placing the blame on any gender would be wrong, if we are to place blames, we should be blaming the government for taking this serious issues so casually.”

“I saw a post once where the women, 90% of them, said that if all the men disappeared from the world, they would go for a long late-night walk, so that is pretty self-explanatory about how women feel in this world, not just India,” she adds.

Shivani says, “It is parent’s job to teach both their boys and girls to learn basic empathy, there’s nothing beyond that after that comes sex education and the talk about birds and the bees (adolescence education), then comes the education on consent and that’s that.”

“The news and the data itself cries out loud on how serious the issues are, I think this will not change until there is a thorough examination of the thought processes and the archaic patriarchal systems. The main thing is to put more emphasis on investigations and punishments, they should be fair and harsh,” she adds.

Lilawati Chettri, 75, says, “There was nothing of this sort when we were kids, the men were more ethical, inclined towards their work and hardworking, and the women were more well behaved and mannered than all of this young generations. Men are to be blamed, I have lived long enough to know that men have a dormant evil in them, they have something when it comes to women, maybe it is the brute force in them or something, but men have that way of looking at women, not all of them but some. I remember when I was a kid and worked at other people’s house, my friend was touched inappropriately by the sauji (owner of the premises) there, he was a respected man, but he wasn’t good.”

“What can they teach, we can’t lock the girls in, or kill the boys. All we can do is tell them what’s right and what’s wrong and hope for the best,” Lilawati says.

“I don’t know, they should just hang all the rapist so others fear doing that to a woman,” she adds.

Rabin, a government employee opines that men are to be blamed. "Even the ones who don’t disrespect women, if they do not speak up in their group where women are objectified while their friends are doing it, they are adding to the problem, so men should be blamed, only then there will be lesser crimes against women.”

"Parents don’t teach bad stuff, not all of them anyway, but it is the parents’ job to know their child, and know if they are getting influenced from other people and teach them better. They should teach the girls how to be safer and whom to put their trust in. Parents’ should teach their children to make better choices and be better at the judgement, especially if they make mistakes.”

“Rape cases are the most worrisome issue in our country, even in Sikkim cases seem to rise now, especially among older men who tend to molest younger girls mostly minors, and this is a marker of paedo/paraphilia that is prevalent in Sikkim, so the only way forward is to know the markers, and for the lawmakers of the nation to create laws that make a man think thrice before even thinking of committing such atrocious acts,” he concludes.

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