Rape- a social menace

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batori.inRape is generally termed as sexual offence but in real sense it is a behavioural act. Famous psychologist Freud said “when ‘Id’ proves more powerful than ‘ego’, the person engages himself in unlawful or immoral activities”; probably this is one of the main reasons behind the commission of the offence of rape. It is a pseudo sexual act which can be understood as equivalent to symptom formation in that it serves to express a conflict, defend against anxiety, and partially gratifying an impulse. It is not only a crime against the chastity of the victim but is a crime against the society as also against the humanity.

The judgments in Mathura rape case, the Vishakha’s case, the Sakshi’s case, and the protest following the December 2012 gang rape in Delhi demanded urgent reforms in rape laws. The cumulative effects of these judgments and public protest led to the formation of a committee under the supervision of Justice Verma. The comprehensive reforms suggested by the Verma Committee report led to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 13 of 2013.

The decade between 2002 & 2011 has seen rise in crimes against women from 1.31 lakh to 2.19 lakh registered cases, a jump of 67% in absolute terms and one of 42% when adjusted for population with census 2001 & 2011 as base. So far as rape is concerned, despite it being an under reported crime the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report tells that the number of rape cases registered in India has risen over 47% in absolute terms over the decade and over 25% when adjusted for population.

In 2011, the highest number of rape cases was registered in Madhya Pradesh, its 3,406 cases accounting for 14.1% of the national total.

Reasons behind increase in crime of rape

1) Social stigma:  Apart from the focus on preventing rape and punishing rapists, it is just as important to address concerns about what happens to victims after rape. As things are, the interrogation, the medical exam, the humiliating details recounted to strangers, and the intense media glare can be almost as violating as the rape. But to silence a rape victim, or to use her own story to shun her or mark her out as ‘different’ is to doubly victimize her. Thus from filing of the FIR to getting justice, it is usually a long and weary battle for rape victims. This creates a social stigma which is one of the major reasons for under reporting of rape and as a result of which the offenders are embolden.

2) Encouraging rape victims to compromise: The rape committed in villages are either not reported or when put before the traditional Panchayats, the Panchs with their orthodox thinking either asks the offender to marry the victim, or to take compensation and compromise with the offender. This boosts the confidence of the criminals.

3) Complaint and role of police: Complaints are handled roughly and are not given such attention as is warranted or required. The victims and their family face humiliation by the police. Recent example of the bad role played by the police is that of the gang rape of a girl of 16 years in Madhyamgram, West Bengal, where the victim was gang raped on 26 October 2013 (according to her first complaint with the Madhyamgram Police). On her way back to home, the gang allegedly raped her again as revenge for the complaint on 27 October 2013.  Later she was set on fire by the gang on December 23 and she died. Autopsy report revealed that she was pregnant. According to her father, the Madhyamgram policemen had initially advised the girl not to lodge a complaint, but the family persuaded them. The girl’s father added: “While returning early in the morning, she was raped again. We went back to the police station but they took our signature on a statement written in Bengali, which we could not read. We realized later that it did not mention the second rape but stated my daughter has been molested.”

Does the police force get handsome salaries so that 73% of rape accused, 72% of molesters, 71% kidnappers, 65% of the dowry death accused are never punished? The rampant corruption in police department helps the culprits to escape the bounds of law.

4) Lack of social security: In a country where a woman is molested every 12 minutes, a woman is kidnapped every 14 minutes, a woman is raped every 21 minutes and every hour, a dowry death occurs, it would not be wrong to say that India lacks social security so far as women are concerned. The battle against sexual harassment at workplace began 21 years ago in the much celebrated case of Vishakha and others Vs. State of Rajasthan and others, in which the honourable Supreme Court laid down various guidelines for sexual harassment at work place. But it is not only the work place where women are not feeling safe, there are various cases where fathers have been found raping their daughters, spiritual gurus raping their pupils, teachers raping their students and many more… Society as a whole seems to be unsafe for women. Failure of the Government whether at State or at Centre to provide sufficient protection to women and the nexus between offenders, police and money is adding fuel to the increasing rate of sex crimes against women.

5) No proper execution: Even where the offender is arrested and put to trial the execution is delayed. It took 14 years after schoolgirl Hetal Parekh’s rape and murder for the man responsible, Dhananjoy Chaterjee, to be brought to justice. Hetal was raped and murdered on March 15, 1990. Dhananjoy was hanged at Alipore Central Jail on August 14, 2004. The long and cumbersome justice delivery system adds to the woes by ensuring that instead of giving speedy justice, it is delayed and then denied.

6) Changing social and moral values: The Indian society has changed radically. It is becoming more liberal about physical intimacy. There is a real change in the castles of orthodox India. This change in the Indian society is also playing a slow but steady role towards crime against women. And here it would not be out of way to mention that “society has the criminals it deserves”.

Myths and reality

The Offender: One basic impression about the offender is that he is an adult male, and although it is true that the majority of identified offenders are adult men, this is not a totally accurate picture of rapists. There have been cases reported of female offenders committing sexual assaults, although admittedly these are rather few in number.

The Offence: The assumption is that the offence is sexually motivated. Careful clinical study of offenders reveals that rape serves essentially nonsexual needs in the psychology of the offender. Rape is not primarily the aggressive expression of sexuality but rather the sexual expression of aggression. It is pseudo sexual act prompted more by retaliatory and compensatory motives than by sexual ones. The rapist is not assaulting because he is sexually frustrated or deprived, any more than the alcoholic is drinking because he is thirsty.

The Victim: The victim is often held more responsible than the perpetrator. It is assumed that the victim must have done something, either deliberately or inadvertently, to arouse such desire in the offender. Victim credibility is impeached, and offender accountability is diminished, by focusing on the sexual aspects of the victim’s appearances and behaviour: how she looked, how she was dressed, and how she acted. In reality, victim selection is determined primarily by availability and vulnerability rather that sexual desirability and anyone could be a victim of sexual assault. Rape happens not only o young women but to both sexes and all age groups, from infants to the aged.

Data maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau reveals that of the 45,600 people who are in jails across the country on rape charges, more than 80% were known to the victim.

Suggestions to combat rape

1) Programs for promotion of mental health: These programs must be designed to lower the incidences of mental disorder in the community. Conditions in home or in society which produce mental illness must be the taken into consideration. These programs must necessarily involve significant members of the community and those institutions which have a crucial impact on the masses must be engaged. The implementation of these programs should be done by social agencies, schools and religious institutions, health professionals, NGO’s, political leaders and last but not the least by the individual’s family.

2) Early recognition & treatment of rapist: Many potential or actual rapists come to the attention of police before they are arrested and charged with rape. They may be arrested for such crimes as indecent assault, voyeurism or exhibitionism. These potential rapists must be recognized and treated clinically for their psychopathic personality disorder.

3) Educational programs: Universities and colleges must take the responsibility to help the society to curb the menace of rape through various education programs, awareness forums, street shows etc. Schools must include within their curriculum various chapters on moral teachings. Children must be taught to respect each other. Sexual education should be imparted to children. Adult literacy programs should be initiated with the help of NGOs and activists who are active on the issue of sexual violence against women. Anti-abuse counselling program like that proposed by the North Corporation for school girls to help them differentiate between a “good” and “bad” touch and also the proposed program ‘SYANI BITIYA RANI BITIYA’ is a good step towards social security for women. Government and NGOs should give their best to promote this noble cause.

4) Government’s role: The governments at state and centre must play an active role for prevention of crime against women. Lady police constables must be appointed at every police station. Special grievance redress cells must be established at village and local levels. NGO’s must join hands with the government authorities for rooting out the menace from society.  Fast track courts should be set up for redress of crimes against women.

5) Role of parents: Parents are the first teacher of every child. Good family produces good and law abiding citizens. For a good nation it is necessary that the moral teaching should begin from the home. Parents must be vigilant and attentive towards their children particularly towards the adolescents.


To conclude it can be said that rape is not merely a crime of passion but an expression of power. It is more than a psychological issue; it is a cultural, social, legal, moral, economic, and educational issue as well and it must be approached and understood from all these perspectives if it is to be effectively combated.

Mohammed Faraz Husain

(The author is a law final year student at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.)

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