Rape: The new normal in our society

Mautusi Chaudhuri

So yet again some brutal incidence of Rape shook the whole nation. As usual after every rape some discussion on this is so obvious and the more obvious thing is that after sometime all settles down. So it can very well be assumed that this time also after few days all will forget everything and carry on with their normal life and wait for another bone chilling incidence to become active again. And by being active it meant update status on social media and if someone is too free and active may take the pain to participate in one or two candle marches or protest rallies. And yes rallies and solidarity marches are most predominant in those places which are miles away from the place of the crime. We are more reluctant to crimes closer homes because chances of upsetting the people in power are there and also chances are there that some help may be expected from the people participating in candle and solidarity marches for which people rarely have time. Those activities are more for social media and so best done for incidences away from home. Especially in a small state like Tripura this attitude is too much prevalent for a long long time. We rarely protest for crimes happening in our state, of course until and unless some strong political or other motives are involved more so, in a time when politicisation and communalisation of rapes is the most obvious thing now.  Depending on the ruling party of the state, in which incidences occur people decide their stand on the said incidence. Now a day a fairly new trend has started and that is to judge the incidence based on the religion of the victim and obviously the offender. This is the new addition of the much prevalent of the rape culture in our country. 

Crime against women is clearly increasing day by day. It seems there is no end to it. Thompson Reuters Foundation is a charitable arm of Thompson Reuters, a Canadian global information and news network. They carry out regular surveys to find out which is the most dangerous countries for women. According to their latest survey in 2018, India tops the list of the most dangerous country for women. The other countries in the list being Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nigeria and USA in serial of  2-10 respectively. The six key areas for assessment are healthcare, discrimination, cultural tradition, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. So where India stands and what is the actual condition of women in our country can be well assumed.

After each rape the most important thing that we all never miss is to discuss and analyse the incident continuously in every nook and cranny. Most of the analyses most obviously lead to the deduction from facts that the woman is responsible for the crime. May be her dress was not appropriate, she should not be outside for so late in the night, she should not have visited certain places, she must have behaved inappropriately, she must be keeping bad company, the offender must be known to her or the worst that she must have called them as she is into sex trade and then something went wrong etc. etc. Probably Rape is the only crime where the victim is held responsible for the crime committed against her. She is said to have PROVOKED the offender. So going by this argument it can be said that by being provoked by something people can break law let alone humanity at any point of time and there is no harm in that. The person who provoked is at fault. Now come to think of it every time we see someone wearing an expensive piece of jewellery or an exclusive attire or riding an expensive car or having a high end mobile phone, don't we all get provoked? So by that 'logic of provocation' if we snatch or steal the products or harm the owner for getting those things, then we are not at all at fault because the owner is responsible for public display of their prized possession and provoking the onlookers. Is not that a valid logic? Then half of the work load of our police force will be reduced. Is not that a great idea? Because majority of the crimes happen because the offender get provoked by something or the other. But in all those cases the victim is never been asked why they provoked the offender. But only in case of rape the victim is held responsible for provoking. People very conveniently turn a blind eye to the statistics of rapes in our country where it proves that the clothes of the women in no way area influencing factor. Infants, minor child, even nonagenarians are raped. Women in burkha, veils, school uniformsare raped. But these things are of little importance for those educated illiterates who takes immense pleasure in discussing the incidences and giving dictates. And most obviously all these dictates are exclusively for the womanfolk. Whenever any news of rape comes the general discussion of morality begins and these discussions most obviously transpire to the conclusion that the women need to be more responsible in their way of conduct. Each time news of rape comes, some newer restrictions of varying degrees arenaturally imposed on the girls. Citing the incidence in almost each and every household the girls are warned to be more careful and act more responsibly. Advices pour in from each and every corner for the girls what to do and how to behave. It is really doubtful how many advices are given to the boys of the house to learn from the incidence what not do and how not to behave and most importantly how to respect women.

Now the most vital question is whether women are at all responsible for the ever growing rape culture in our country. So the obvious answer should be a big YES. Women are definitely responsible to a great extent for these incidences. When rape has become a part of our culture and the women folk comprises of the 50% of our population which has very conveniently accommodated this rape culture then they also has to take half of the responsibility if not more.  Now another question is which women are responsible. Definitely not those women who are being raped or who are said to have provoked or those who have broken the so called norms. Now a very common saying is that if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family. So all those woman who fail to educate and teach their sons, their brothers, their husbands how to treat a woman and how to respect woman are responsible for rapes to a great extend. Each and every woman who takes part in character assign of a victim and teaches morality lessons to a woman after rape is responsible for rapes. The logic is simple if you take the credit then you have to take the blame too. If a woman is appreciated for the good up bring then she deserves the censure too. It's said that behind a successful man there is a woman, so obviously behind each criminal there must also be a woman. The mothers who brought up their daughter and son differently, who give more preference to their sons, who let their sons believe that they are superior, who tell their daughters that your brother can do certain things that you cannot all are responsible. The wives, who happily accept their husbands even after hearing about the crimes he has done, are responsible. The sisters, the daughters who never stood up against the crimes committed by their near and dear ones are responsible. So the woman not only need to be educated, they should be educated very rightly so that they can give right values to the men of their house, yes men, not women. 

Hopefully none of us have forgotten the famous Park Street Rape Case. How easily a woman cabinet minister so reluctantly concluded that the incidence is nothing but a misunderstanding between a sex worker and her customer in a reputed national news channel. I believe nobody has actually forgotten how the victimised women were repeatedly harassment by the Government headed by another woman. As is if she any sex worker is raped, then it is a very great thing and not a crime. History repeating in our own state few months back when a horrific incident of rape right in the heart of the city of Agartala took the full state by deep shock and social media abuzz. A statement came from a powerful politician and that too a woman politician that there were discrepancies in the statement given by her. She also mentioned that she as well as her government is looking into the matter if there is any conspiracy in the incident by the opposition to malign the government. Her statement is video recorded. There are numerous other examples like that. I am just mentioning the cases closer home. A complete apathy vividly prevails amongst the political class. After all we have not forgot about the Katua or Unnao or SwamiChinmayananda case. Numerous such examples involving politicians across party line are heard on a regular basis. If this is the attitude of the policy makers of our country how the situation will improve. Infact so so many such bizarre statements from politicians have come. When they will understand that these kind of irresponsible statements also encourages the potential criminals. They think if they do something like that they can also get away as afterall the society will blame the women. The character of the women will be questioned. So if the politicians cannot do anything to stop rape then they should atleastleave rape alone and not utilise this to gain political millage.  Infact no need to even waste their valuable time in meeting the victims with full security and gang of media. It has been proven over time that their visits or statements have never helped the victim in getting justice. Politicians, Ministers, their family members roam around with an army of security people. Have they ever thought when they fail to give security to the woman of the country, what right they have to engage so many securities for them and their family members that too on the money of the people? Now it is being said that the women should be taught self defence for safe guarding themselves. Government is taking initiatives for that. Such a great work they are doing to stop rape. The bottom line is the government totally failed to give security to the daughters of the country and now the women need to become black belts just to move around safely in the country. Then why don't the politicians lead by example? They can learn these some martial arts, karate, kalaripayattu, kung fu etc. etc. and spare some of their security to take care of the public who have voted them to power? But then they cannot do that as they have more important work to do. But the common women are so free and have ample spare time to take training and become commandos and tackle umpteen numbers of people who can attack them at any point. Is not that logic needed to be applauded.

The general sense of insensitivity towards women and their issues is reflected in theattitude of our law enforcing agencies. Police Station is the first place where anyone rushes to after any mishap. I fully empathise with the police personnel since they have humongous work load and day in and day out they face varied class of people who lie to them, give them fake news, unnecessarily disturb them etc. etc. Even then their attitude specially towards the crime against women cannot be justified. In some cases their activities are horrendous. If we study each and every poignant incidence which in recent past grabbed the attention of the nation, one thing which is common in almost all the cases is the inaction, insensitivity and passivity of the police. Many cases could have been resisted had the police acted timely. In many many cases the criminals get away simply because the police failed to act properly or tap the evidences appropriately from the crime scene.

Of late lots of crime against women are happening in our state also. Being a small hilly state of northeast our state was fairly safe for women. We used to call n think our women to be well educated, independent as well as safe in the state.  But gradually it seems like our state is also catching up with the rest of the country in case of crime against women. It feels like however geographically isolated we are and however backward we remain in case of overall development, crime somehow managed to reach here too. According to some media reports from April, 2018 to July,2017 the number of rapes reported is 240, 117 minor girls' rapes, and 3 murders after rape. In an unstarred assembly question it is mentioned that from the period of 1st April 2018 to 31st July 2019 number of crime against women reported is 809. Another surprising fact is that in the website of Tripura Police in Crime Data there is no mention of crime against women let alone anything about Rape. When crime against women specially rape has become such a burning issue and in our state this is increasing day by day, our police is not even considering this as a category to be included in their crime data. Recently also so many incidences are happening in our state. In last few days three minor girls are raped in Longtarai Valley, Baikhora and Gandacherra. There are incidences of gang rapes even in the heart of the capital city. Almost every day some news of rape is coming. But our police are reluctant even to show that in their website.

The conviction rate of rape in India is very low and it has decreased steeply over the last 40years. In 1973, the conviction rate was 44.3% which has been reduced to 27.1 in 2013. Even the culprits of the most talked about rape case in recent past, the 2012Nirbhaya case is still enjoying their lives. The most heinous one is already set free since he was a juvenile. So that is what we do with the rapists in our country. Even in our state we have heard about so many rapes in the past but we don't know how many got punished. Many years back a minor girl was raped and killed. That time also the whole state was shocked by the brutality but till date little is known about the fate of the criminal. In almost all cases either conviction never happens and even if it happens it is so much delayed that no one get to know about that as over the years people tend to forget the incidence. This is a big encouragement for the criminals because they think like earlier cases, nothing will happen to them also. Incidences of rape are happening on a regular basis all over the country, but some get highlighted at the national level and some remain in oblivion. But whenever some case got highlighted and people started talking about it, the government assures to bring new and stricter laws in order to give some apparent relief to the protesting people. During Nirbhaya case also this happened and now after the Hyderabad case also same thing is being repeated. But no one is talking about the actual implementation and execution part. Our data shows the conviction rate in the past was better. Then what is the point of making the laws stricter when the implementation is becoming weaker day by day. Laws are there, but they need to be implemented properly.

The general public are also becoming immune to this rape culture.  This is the new normal in our lives. Almost every day we hear about some new incidences in newspapers, TV, Fb etc. We have become kind of adjusted to that. Gone are the days when in 2004 around 200 women gathered in Nagpur District court, thrown stones, chilli powder and ultimately lynched the repeat offender of multiple rapes to death. In our state also women do gather in court and throw rotten eggs etc. on someone accused for posting something wrong in social media. This is good and appreciable. But when those women fail to turn up in court when the accused of a heinous gang rape was brought, then it feels alarming and disgusting. Then it again proves how we are accommodating the Rape culture within us. Now a days lynching have become so common. People are lynched on myriad issues. But how many rapists were lynched in recent past that we remember? Except for the Dimapur lynching in 2015 have we heard of any such incidences? And that incidence too was caused by factors other than rape which was later inquired into. Anyways lynching is totally illegal and in no no way lynching can be supported whatever the crime is. The criminals have to be judged by the law of the land. Its just to reiterate the fact that how we have adjusted ourselves to the rape culture that even for smuggling cows people are lynched but even after murdering a women after raping her, we just come out with candles. 

So in every way Rape has become the new normal in our lives. Now the situation is such that we don't even take rape so seriously. We hear about some rapes and forget it as if it was supposed to happen to complete the quota of the day or live up to the existing statistics. Only in cases when too much brutality is done to the victim or the victim is murdered, then we become restless to some extent. We discuss, post social media status, hold protest rallies, politicians argue those in assemblies and parliament, media run debates etc. etc. Gradually the interest fades and people shift to other issues. So now let us wait for a time when gradually murder after rape will also become normal in our lives like those of dowry deaths have become NORMALS.

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