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RAPE CULTURE: NEED FOR CHANGE

By

Akanksha Maurya, LL.M, from National University of Advanced Legal Studies, kochi, Kerala.


India being one among the foremost populous and developed countries, lacks the societal development. Every now and then we hear about a rape case, rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2018 annual report, 33,356 rape cases were reported across India in 2018. Out of these, 31,320 were committed by someone known to the victim (93.9% of the cases). (Crime in India 2018" (PDF). National Crime Records Bureau. P. 259. Retrieved 22 June 2020.) The victim of rape in India has to suffer emotional and social trauma, which is way worse than a physical trauma. Even though there are several laws made under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 to control and punish the offenders, the rate of sexual assault has been increased.


WHAT IS RAPE CULTURE?

Rape culture also referred to as Rape Supportive Culture is an environment or state of mind where the sexual violence against women is normalized and therefore the survivors are left to deal with all the social stigma attached to the sexual assault. Tolerating, excusing or making light of sexual violence keeps the rape culture alive. Rape Culture has a negative impact on the survivors leading them to deal with depression, making their social life tough and in some cases suicide. Not many of us can talk about their past or trauma they dealt with hence, it is necessary for us to hear them out and stop victim blaming. There are many instances where the politicians have made statements about the rape victims blaming them for wearing short or revealing clothes in the public and making it look like the victim is at fault.

We often lay the blame on the victim by saying:

“She wore reveling clothes”

“It’s her fault”

“She hangs out with boys”

“She says No when she means Yes”

Language is deeply rooted in our society, and sometimes we forget how to use it. Passing a comment and denying to acknowledge the harm caused to the victim can hurt them emotionally making their life more miserable. Some of the examples of rape culture are:

  • Deny to acknowledge the sexual violence and the harm caused to the victim

  • Victim blaming and slut shaming

  • Objectifying the women


ROOT OF RAPE CULTURE:

It all starts from a patriarchal superiority and masculinity, power and control of men on women. Many young girls haven been sexually assaulted by their family members, but they are asked to stay quiet because “Log kya kahenge”. Our perspective, language often targets the victim, albeit it’s not direct. There are movies and songs which objectify women and the audience have also contributed to it. Movies like Kabir Singh endorsing toxic masculinity and songs like Sheela ki Jawani have objectified the aura of a women. Examples like these are immeasurable, and the society adopts what they are shown or taught.


HOW TO STOP RAPE CULTURE:

  • Educating the youngsters should always be the highest priority. Teaching them to respect and understand the value of consent at a young age can make an outsized difference in the society. Self-reflection, community conversations, and artistic expressions are just a few tools available for men and boys (as well as women and girls) to examine and redefine masculinities with feminist principles.


  • We as a responsible individual should support various organizations and NGO’s that help women overcome their fears and empower them by acknowledging their rights. The National Commission for Women is one among the organizations, set-up in January 1992 as a statutory body to review the Constitutional & Legal safeguards for women while recommending remedial legislative measures and facilitating redressal of grievances of women. A woman can reach out to complain against child sexual abuse, molestation, sexual assault, and child rape at the cell. Most victims don’t come out and share their stories because of the social judgments and the stigma involved, but in the era of #metoo everyone is speaking, and we need to hear them out.


  • The perpetrators must be held accountable for their acts. By punishing the accused, we send a robust message of zero- tolerance. Section 375 of IPC deals with rape and Section 376(2) (g) with gang rape. Both these crimes are heinous and attract the rarest of the rare doctrine. The Supreme Court in Machi Singh (Machhi Singh And Others vs State Of Punjab ) case upheld the validity of capital punishment for the rarest of the rare cases. The Courts shall apply the provisions in the stricter sense and set an example that an accused cannot escape with rape.


  • Victim blaming can target the psychological state of the survivors. We should stop making excuses for sexual offences. Whether a women was drunk or wearing short clothes or she was with a boy is not an invitation for rape.

In the Nirbhaya case (Mukesh v. NCT of Delhi), victim’s mother revealed Nirbhaya’s real name stating that the perpetrators were guilty and they should be ashamed not my daughter.

The society has always suppressed women and blamed them for being themselves. There are various reasons why women refuse to report the sexual assault or hide it from their friends and family out of embarrassment and therefore the judgments. People encourage rape culture by maintaining silence and choosing honour over life (honour killing). Reporting a sexual assault is a step closer towards women empowerment and setting an example for the future offenders.