Rape and India – How bad is the situation?
On the morning of November 5th, at 7.45 am – a 16 year old Autistic girl was walking around 16th and Trumbull in Chicago. A man shoved her into his van at gunpoint and took her to an apartment building where he raped her for over 2 days. In US a rape happens every 6.2 minutes (although it may be five times as high). By the time you are finished reading this article, around 2 girls would have been raped in the US.
Those will be the reported cases.
Only 36% of the rapes are reported in US.
In UK, the fear of reporting is even worse.
One in 10 women has been raped, and more than a third subjected to sexual assault, according to a major survey, which also highlights just how frightened women are of not being believed. More than 80 per cent of the 1,600 respondents said they did not report their assault to the police, while 29 per cent said they told nobody – not even a friend or family member – of their ordeal.
Clearly, reporting of rape and sexual assaults – even in the most developed of countries is far short of the reality.
Rape and India: Objective Facts
Rape is a global pandemic. In South Africa 500,000 rapes are reporter per year. In China, the figure is 31,833 while Egypt has 200,000 and UK has 85,000. In India, as per the National Crimes Records Bureau’s 2013 Annual Report, that figure was 24,923.
The total numbers do not do full justice to the prevalent and scourge of a crime in any society. One needs to look at the total population and also how much of law enforcement personnel are available to fight crime in the society. Between a police beat with many cops fully equipped with fast cars with gadgets and the officer with guns is a different level of law enforcement versus say a police beat with 5 hawaldars with bicycles and wooden rods as weapons.
India has the least police personnel per 100,000 population and roughly 6% the rapes per 100,000 compared to US or Belgium.
Beyond all rhetoric, self-beating memes, and religious overtones of reporting on rapes; objective reality is that India comes is ranked 75th – just above Canada and Hong Kong!That is the objective reality.
And, for those who think lack of reporting happens only in India, they need to get some basic education on how things work elsewhere. After all, even many of the sexual assaults by current US President went unreported until now! Ditto for sexual assaults by Harvey Weinstein – whose victims happened to be the most powerful – and empowered – women in the world!
That said, one rape is too many. Subjecting women to sexual assault is dastardly and inhuman. It is borne out as much from the sexual lust as from the fetish for power over another human being. Masculinity probably has this curse of violence around it. In this study, it was said clearly.
“Being male has been identified as a risk factor for violent criminal behavior in several studies, as have exposure to tobacco smoke before birth, having antisocial parents, and belonging to a poor family.”
Men have violence intertwined in their make up. And, the society and traditional mores of different traditions don’t help either. But given objective facts, are Indian men really that much more sexually violent that men around the globe – specifically with far less fear of law enforcement? The answer is a clear NO! Then why the stereotyping and shaming of an entire nation? That is an interesting question to dwell into in another post.
Rape: A Being is Violated
Beyond the studies and the statistics, there is a person. A person whose very being is assaulted and violated. That experience of utter violence is something that the statistics can never speak to. They de-humanize the whole crime in many ways. But so do lies and hyperbole.
When BBC made the documentary that very subtly tried to portray India as a land of rape of women, it was indulging in a hyperbole. A film-maker from a country that has far more than the reported 87,000 rapes a year was only interested in a documentary on rape in a country which had at least FOUR TIMES less! Stereotyping and hyperbole won the day cloaked as “caring for the violated woman”. As if British women who were raped were any less violated and traumatized.
We have far more than 87,000 rapes in this country every year, but each of them is invariably portrayed as an isolated incident. We have dots so close they’re splatters melting into a stain, but hardly anyone connects them, or names that stain. In India they did. They said that this is a civil rights issue, it’s a human rights issue, it’s everyone’s problem, it’s not isolated, and it’s never going to be acceptable again. It has to change. It’s your job to change it, and mine, and ours.
We need perspective. And context. Before we attempt to fight any issue or crime. If we use hyperbole, shaming, stereotyping and ideological agendas to create our narratives and crime baselines or to build our strategies – then please be aware of the fact that you may be worsening the situation in the altruistic endeavor of fighting it. Because with such a mindset, you can never address the right issue.