India rape crisis: Are we part of the problem?

Delhi Dec 10, 2019, 01.42 PM(IST) Written By: Nagen Singh

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Rape is not just about sex but it's a social disease.

Last year during an assignment I met an 11-month-old baby who was brutally raped in the national capital and she had to undergo an operation, her eyes continue to haunt me. The baby girl underwent a three-hour-long operation. She had horrific injuries in her internal organs.

I wanted to investigate why are we termed rape capital of the world. What is it that we are doing wrong? 

Most of the times police denies giving the data on crime against women to journalists. The Delhi Commission for Women somehow got the data that explained the shocking law and order problem in the capital. Between 2012 and 2014, 31,446 crimes against women were reported in the capital and only less than 150 were convicted. It is for a fact that criminals and offenders are not scared in Delhi.

But what are the significant steps that the state and police have been taking?

Our police force is not even digitised. There are no digital arrangements which can update us about the number of cases filed and resolved, which police officer is performing well and accountability of the system.

There are police officers who are working at a stretch for 48 hours too. For years, Delhi Police has been demanding sixty thousand additional police force but they haven't got it yet.

DCW says that Out of 7500 samples pending forensic investigations, 1500 samples cross the expiry and forensic samples are not even tested for months. The number of courts and judges are painfully less. The mother of Nirbhaya had told once that sometimes she feels happy that her daughter is no more. At least she doesn't have to go through the humiliation of seeking justice, delayed justice and sometimes no justice at all.

This needs to be changed, but the story of women's safety is quite tragic and it's tragic because there are so many dimensions. There is state, government, society, patriarchy, and especially the mindsets that need to be changed.

At the same time, the tragedy of the story is that the stakeholders involved in it, somehow want it to remain a complex topic. It can't be broken down.

In 2012, Parliament made a special task force which was supposed to meet two times every month but it met only 11 times in three years, later it was disbanded.

All the stakeholders need to sit down on the same table and need to make our daughters safe and not the cows. Nearly 90 per cent of women have been stared at, been told not to do particular things, to stand properly, to speak properly and to sit properly. Ohh, offline and online abuses are part of the day.

Where is the real problem? Why this rape occurs and why rape is wrong?

Asking most friends, usually the Indian mindset answers you that rape occurs when a man, probably from the poor background, rural, uneducated comes across a girl wearing short skirts, possibly drunk, outside late at night. It is important for the girl to be under western influence to be raped.

Why rape is wrong? Because it violates her dignity honour of family, community and nation's respect.

So are we protecting women for the right reasons?

If we think that the problem of rape occurs because of the violation of gender norms, we are still thinking that men need to protect women and it is the men who are failing to protect enough. Then we end up having campaigns like real men don't rape, protecting women is a religion, but the obvious problem is that a man has to choose whether to protect the woman or not. The woman herself has no agency and no say. If we think rape is a violation of gender-based boundaries and if we think that women shouldn't be out in certain hours and women should be staying at home, then, do women have the right to occupy public place?  

Politicians say rape happens in 'India' but not 'Bharat.' They are placing India within a specific religious, moral, cultural and ethical framework and tell us that the rapes happen due to western influence.

The message of not wearing inappropriate dresses is always visible and it is inappropriate culturally. People like you and me agree rape is wrong but you don't have to be a rapist to be a part of the problem.

Thinking of rape is wrong because of wrong reasons are also part of the problem. Rape is not about sex, but it's a social disease.

Right in the centre of Delhi, there is a place called GB road. GB road exists 3 km from the parliament. There are 5000 women, there are 90 brothels and there are 600 odd children and nobody wants to talk about it. The women working there entertain at least 30 men in a day. A police station exists just 100 meters away.

The system knows and the police know what is happening in the centre of Delhi, but it can't really stop rapes for sure. We have a much larger social disease, a product of power imbalances, caste, religion and imbalances of gender and identity. If your responses are nested in those exact power structures, If you want to resolve by strengthening the exact same power structure then you are part of the problem and further the problem.

For India rape is a problem because its the matter of honour, that's why marital rape is still not illegal in India. Culture, religion, family and every institution won't debate about it because it doesn't violate our so-called 'culture.'

Rape is wrong in India because of the problem of honour, that is why a Khap Panchayat in Haryana also thinks rape is the way to give justice. Panchayats have been outrageously okay to come up with punishments to gang rape a girl that could affect her family and community's reputation and honour.

This is why rape is used as a political tool. By raping a woman you are damaging the community's honour but nobody cares about the woman.

In Gurgaon, a new rule was introduced in 2014, women couldn't work after 8 pm and all it did is that it strengthened the social framework that leads to leaving women objectified and vulnerable.

Rape is wrong but not for the right reasons. Rape is a violation of an individual's rights. It is important to understand why rape is wrong and don't just stay as part of the problem.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)