Mumbai cop rapes girl in Marine Drive
Rapes are being reported from the capital of
India with alarming regularity. The latest has been the rape of
a Swiss diplomat who was abducted from the IFFI parking lot and
raped in her own car. The same day, a girl student was raped by
a school principal.
The intention of this story is not to declare
Delhi, or any other city, the rape capital. We try to examine
the social causes specific to the cities under discussion that
lead to rapes and associated crimes.
There is no intention in this article to justify
rape. But we do seriously plan to examine the issue of rape in
all its aspects. We shall try to steer clear of conventional
wisdom. After all, conventional wisdom has been around for as
long as society existed, and rapes still do continue.
(Latest update on the Swiss diplomat rape
investigation - Click
here 12 Nov 2003)
Who gets raped?
Everyone. According to some statistics, only one
in 69 rape cases in India are even reported. Only 20 % of those
reported result in convictions for the rape accused.
Rapes happen across the social strata in India.
In the Indian villages, it is the poor villager's wife or sister
or daughter who gets raped by another poor rowdy villager, and
everyone from the local thanedar to the landlord. These rapes,
unless the news becomes public due to unavoidable reasons, are
never reported. It is reported in the newspapers or reaches the
police only when a rape becomes part of a larger caste battle,
family feud or political game. We do not hear about the massive
number of them happening all the time. The media will report a
rape only when it is a different kind of rape - a 'normal' rape
is not news. The police, even when they get to know of a rape,
or even when a rape victim approaches them, almost always
discourages the family from filing a complaint. Often they are
threatened, if the alleged rapist is someone in a powerful
position. Some other times, the police reminds the victim's
family of the social repercussions and attention (and permanent
social humiliation, no marriages for anyone else in the family
etc. etc) and the victim returns home to wash away all evidence
of the crime.
Everyone from little girls - six month old
children's rapes are becoming routine now - to grandmothers are
raped. Age is no barrier.
Class is no barrier either. The rich, the
educated, woman has no safety either. These are the rapes we
notice. Because often, the rape becomes public in some
unexpected way. Even these rapes are hushed up - and the victim
herself in this case pretty well understands the consequences of
outing the criminal. Family and acquaintances are often rapists
- fathers, uncles, cousins. These are almost always treated as a
matter of family honour and token punishment (the rapist may get
slapped or sent out of town) is meted out to the rapist.
In rapes that occur in Indian families, the
males and females are equally to blame as everyone supports each
other and the rapist for the sake of family honour. It is only
the rape victim who has no chance of justice. In a cruel way,
this often forces the rape victim to accept rape as an
unfortunate occasional occurance within all families, and she
herself may acquiesce in hushing up another rape tomorrow.
Why do women get raped? Why do men rape?
Do we get psychological here or sociological?
Some women get raped because some men want to
rape. Let us try to see if there is a way in which we can
generalise the type of women who gets raped and type of man who
rapes. Now, do not get all hot and bothered - I said 'try'.
Rape has always been a part of human history.
Almost all cultures have a history of rape. During all wars, the
winning army ravaged the women of the loser. If we look back at
known human history, we see a history of male superiority and
aggressive behavior. Till the recent past, a rapist was not even
'publicly' looked down upon. Worldwide, in all cultures,
mythologicals are full of rapes, attempted rapes, abductions,
molestations.. In every country that faced an invasion in its
history, rape was common. Prevalent social norms accepted sex
(or rather forced sex) as the inescapable right of the
True, there were always those who looked down
upon rape. But it is only with the more or less wide acceptance
of human rights, modern values and laws that rape was uniformly
So dark fact 1: Rape was the norm, rather than
2: All societies condemned rape when it was
perpetrated on its own women, and encouraged or closed their
eyes to it when it was perpetrated on their enemy's women.
(example: Pakistanis do not believe and are enraged if you dare
suggest to them that Muslims raped Hindu women during the
partition trauma. Hindus are similarly furious if you accuse
their community of rapes of Muslim women.)
It is only with the rising equality of women in
modern civilization that rape was at least publicly accepted as
a crime. But the society is still pretty much gender-unequal,
and old attitudes are not that old yet.
Why don't women report rapes to the police?
Haha. Rape is physically and mentally traumatic
for victims. (I have one male friend who argues it shouldn't be
- he says one should treat it as just another physical assault.)
Now, let us focus here on the situation in India.
One: Honour. Often family honour, as rapists are
often known to the victim or are often a family member/
relative. So the matter is hushed up.
Two: Police. Police is the reason.
Have you ever taken a good look at the average
Indian policeman? have you ever been to a police station?
A police station is an intimidating place. The
cultural sophistication of the average policeman in India is
pretty much that of the average roadside thug. Your average
policeman hardly knows how to talk politely, is barely educated,
is uncouth, brash and rude. Is this the paragon of sensitivity a
victim of rape will run to? Add to this the rising number of
custodial rapes which every one knows about. People will turn to
a policeman only when they are desperate. Educated, rich people
are abused by the police in India routinely and they have to
call upon their networks and call upon little netas to
get the policemen to treat them with some consideration.
Expect a policeman to humiliate a rape victim,
turn her back, discourage her, be foul-mouthed or maybe rape her
in turn. The last may happen very rarely, but it is generally
accepted in India that the Indian policeman is a rowdy who has
the law to back him. The better off IPS and higher ranks of
policemen are often double-faced. In their parties or social
circles, they are the paragons of virtue while when in their
element, they are as dangerous as the rest of their lower rung
colleagues. (There are real reasons
why the Indian policeman is a shame to the country. Many of them
are of the society's own making. I will write about it in the
Even if a rape victim passes this hurdle, what
remains is the great Indian judicial system. The system offers
the perfect means for an accused rapist to wear out the victim.
Murder trials last for decades in India. Often, verdicts are
produced only after the deaths of the accused or complainant.
Just what is the point of filing a case when everything -
society, family, police, legal seems to throw hurdles in your
path? Isn't it normal for someone to just want to try and forget
the rape and get on with it?
More to come: What is the legal definition of rape? Is it
accurate? Is it helpful?
How does a rape trial happen?
Why do rape cases in India do no result in
How to avoid rape?
Punishment for rape
Rape and politics in India