Abduction, Rape & Murder  
 
As in other countries throughout the world, rape is common in India. Rape is a social disease. Hardly a day passes without a case of rape being reported in Indian newspapers and media. Women belonging to low castes and tribal women are more at risk. What is sad about rape in India is the lack of seriousness with which the crime is often treated. Statistics from 2000 showed that on average a woman is raped every hour in India.
 
 
Women's groups attest that the strict and conservative attitudes about sex and family privacy contribute to ineffectiveness of India's rape laws. Victims are often reluctant to report rape. In an open court victims must prove that the rapist sexually penetrated them in order to get a conviction. This can be especially damaging. After proving that she has been raped, a victim is often ostracized from her family and community. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that rape laws are inadequate and definitions so narrow that prosecution is made difficult.
 
 
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 discourage 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 remind 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. 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 occurrence within all families, and she herself may acquiesce in hushing up another rape tomorrow.

Rape has a devastating impact on the mental health of victims. 31% of all victims develop Rape-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) sometime in their lifetimes. Based on U.S. Census reports on the number of women in the United States, 1.3 million women currently have RR-PTSD, 3.8 million women have previously had RR-PTSD and roughly 211,000 women will develop RR-PTSD each year.

 
 
Why don't women report rapes to the police?
 
 
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.
 
 
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, and 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?
 
     
 
 
  Copyright@ 2009 India Women Welfare Foundation