Rape is a social evil that has reached explosive proportions. It has ruined many lives and continues to do so at a frantic pace. Nobody is immune, and age is not an impediment. From babies to the elderly to corpses, rape has become a diabolical symbol of power in a wicked world. In the US a rape occurs every two minutes; In India, every 54 minutes, and in Pakistan, every three hours. The tragedy is that 80% are perpetrated by parents, siblings, relatives or friends. Six out of ten occur at home or at the home of a relative or friend. The story of an Austrian father, who raped his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children through her, is still fresh in our minds.
Although rape occurs in all social groups, it is more prevalent among minority groups with low social status. A bully doesn’t necessarily have to be a sleazy character. He may be well educated, well groomed, and have a high status in society, such as a judge, a government official, a policeman, or a priest. Doctors have even been known to rape patients in their clinics. The rapist can be of any age, from an old man to a young teenager. The growing trend of raping minors by force or seduction is terrifying. Boys aged 14 and under have been known to rape their classmates and kill them for fear of being caught.
Reasons for not reporting:
A habitual rapist can molest 8-10 women before he is caught. Since conviction rates are only 2%, many cases go unreported.
o Most women fear the stigma associated with rape, especially when the law does not condemn the rapist. They become secretive and even believe that they are guilty in some way.
o Lack of faith in the judicial system: Many times the court takes the victim to trial, questioning her about her morality and investigating her sexual history. When a 15-year-old ragpicker was raped by a Mumbai policeman, the judge proclaimed, “She’s a ragpick and she doesn’t matter.”
Due to such perverse reasoning and a distorted sense of justice, many judges pass it off as an “act of passion” and give a minimum sentence.
Also, the legal battles are long and tedious. The onus to prove rape rests with the victim.
o Fear of retaliation from the rapist or his henchmen.
o Fear of an adverse reaction from society, parents, spouses, employers, or peers.
o Fear of tarnishing the family image, especially when there are single sisters.
A study showed that 43% of women ignore the law; 23% are too shy to introduce themselves; 12% are afraid of the police; 12% think that complaining will not make a difference.
One girl said, “I blame society for giving men the right to rape and considering women’s suffering unimportant. A rapist can get away with a light sentence, but the victim’s sentence is life.” .
What is rape?
It is a form of sexual sadism that involves illicit sexual penetration either by coercion, force, blackmail or under false promises. “I think anything that violates the integrity of a woman’s body should be considered rape,” says Brinda Karat, a women’s activist. “Sexual violence, in addition to being dehumanizing, is an unlawful intrusion on a woman’s right to privacy and sanctity,” says Judge AS Anand.
Situations in which the violation occurs:
– Custodial rape when a woman is in custody for a misdemeanor.
– Child rape is the hobby of pedophiles. 1 in 5 raped children is under 15 years old. Some don’t even spare babies in cribs.
– Cast layers are routine in the film or modeling industry. When a person is desperate for a job, they become vulnerable.
– Date rapes have been on the rise. The assailant is usually known to the victim and is drugged with GHB, Rophynol, Ketamine, or a similar drug. These medications are in powder or liquid form and dissolve in any beverage. These drugs render the victim physically helpless and unable to resist sex, as well as unable to recall the incident. Alcohol enhances the action of drugs. No trace is found in the bloodstream after 72 hours.
– Aggravated rape is when a rapist introduces an instrument or foreign body into the victim, to build his own orgasm.
– Marital rape that may not be recognized by law.
“In marriage, the weakest, stupidest, most insignificant men in the world are given license to rape or beat their wives,” says Virginia Woolfe
– Necrophilia: Rape of corpses is common in certain tribes. Sometimes sexual perverts can also indulge in such activity.
Reasons why men rape?
– Gives men a sense of power, and is linked to their identity. Forcing a woman into sexual subjugation validates her masculinity. They enjoy it.
– Lust in men who have not disciplined their impulses. Testosterone makes the male libido go haywire.
– Economic reasons: In some communities the bride price may be too high. Poverty, low socioeconomic status, unemployment, lack of skills, make men vent their frustration through rape. The victim and the rapist may live in the same area. Girls in inner cities have a 1 in 70 chance of being raped, while in rich areas it can be 1 in 2000.
– In communities with strict codes of conduct, where mixing of the sexes is not allowed, repressed males express their masculinity through rape.
– Antisocial and borderline personalities behave irresponsibly. This is reinforced by drugs and alcohol.
– Misogyny: Men who hate women commit violent crimes against them. Many have aggressive mothers and shy fathers. Verbal abuse from a mother may have given the man a bad image of himself. As an expression of anger against the mother or sisters, he finds a victim who cannot defend himself against her or is mentally retarded and rapes her.
– Men with low self-esteem are convinced that no woman would willingly sleep with them. They are aroused by sexual fantasies and express themselves through rape.
– Revenge: When men are rejected or ignored, they feel insulted enough to use rape as a form of revenge.
– Growing feminism: women are breaking down all masculine bastions. They are becoming economically independent and upwardly mobile. The attack on men is happening like never before. Assisted reproductive technology and genetic engineering make some men feel purposeless and powerless. As a result, they resort to rape.
– The sex and pornography industry encourages men to treat women like merchandise and humiliate them for their pleasure.
“Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear,” says Susan Brown Miller.
– Men have blamed women for flaunting their feminine attributes through indecent displays, skimpy costumes, and suggestive behavior. This, they say, precipitates lust in men. Women dispute this because rape occurs in small towns or villages where women dress modestly.
– Rape in war is sanctioned by the highest authorities as a means of demoralizing the social fabric of a nation, by impregnating its women. It is also supposed to alleviate aggression and promote bonding among soldiers.
Effects of rape on the victim:
Rape-trauma syndrome is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. It has two stages. The first is Rape Shock Disorganization. Fear, anger, guilt and shame can follow. Reorganization is the second stage that takes place gradually over a period of 3 to 4 months. Sometimes it can take much longer. The victim feels vulnerable, shy and not in full control of her life. Residual damage is what the breach leaves behind. Depression, sexual dysfunction, vaginismus, fear of sexual interaction, and inability to adjust socially are common. The person may take alcohol or drugs to combat fear and depression. A rape survivor is nine times more likely to commit suicide. But if the victim gets immediate support and is able to vent their grievance, fear, or anger, the chances of recovery are greater.
Solutions to minimize rape in society:
o Education of the public by raising awareness in society through education and awareness programs. Men, politicians, the police, the judiciary and the general public should be made aware of violence against women. New knowledge about sex roles is needed. Stereotypical gender roles only make men more aggressive and women more vulnerable.
o Girls’ education: Strong parental support will give girls a sense of security and belonging. They will have confidence to express their fears and anxieties. Parents should encourage their children to report incidents such as physical proximity, inappropriate physical contact, even if it is the parent, sibling, or relatives. Girls must be aware of the dangers that lurk in society. 60% of adolescents have a tendency to act boldly and impulsively.
Women should also know the laws against rape and abuse. Male judges are too lenient on rapists and too harsh on victims. Because of such injustice, the law has been discredited. Trials must be time-limited and punishment must be swift. Rape crisis centers should provide counseling and support to rape victims.
o Girls’ education should include specific “dos” and “don’ts”. They should be told never to let a stranger near them, and never to accept candy or toys from strangers; never take a stranger to a secluded place that she wants to visit; be careful with the excess of friendship. Children from unhappy homes are easy targets as they are hungry for affection. Even van drivers transporting children between school and home can take advantage of a friendly child. Teenagers may be attracted to people who promise modeling or movie roles. If attacked, the child should be told to drop to the ground and scream for help.
o Parent education: The lines of communication between them and their children should always be free of tension. Many parents think that children are too young to be told about rape because it will unduly scare them. Children should be aware that there are a small number of evil people in society.
Parents should also be alerted to sudden withdrawal, loss of appetite, nightmares, or refusal to go to school and investigate the matter.
Parents should check the web sites children visit and the types of books they read.
A child who is aware of the dangers will be more likely to ward off a rapist. Surveillance is the solution.