Indians were not allowed time to overcome the December 16, 2012 rape incident that a 5 year old girl child was subjected to this kind of brutality again in New Delhi. And then comes in the news of a 4 year old rape victim from MP battling for life in a Nagpur hospital. It is high time we question our moral, social and psychological ethos.
Rape is the most brutal form of human savagery. The first question that comes to our mind on hearing such incidents is “Why do men rape”? And when our anger overpowers sanity, we demand strictest form of punishment for the accused, even a death penalty. But would that stop people from indulging in this kind of brutality and savagery that has even been equated to “genocide”? Would castration or for that matter, a death penalty act as a deterrent…?
In her book “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape” [Pub: 1975], Susan Brownmiller described rape as “a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” She asserts that “rape is a crime not of lust, but of violence and power.” Contradicting her views, biologist Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig T. Palmer, in their book “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion” [Pub: 2000], argue that rape is either an adaptation or a byproduct of adaptative traits such as sexual desire and aggressiveness. However, critics have labeled both the theories as dogmatic. Much has been thought, written, spoken and argued about rape and the cause behind it, but the only thing that remains constant across cultures and centuries is the indignity that the victim faces apart from the mental trauma that she has to go through. And as soon as the word goes around, a series of blame game starts. Rape has been (mis)represented in myriad forms by media – be it cinema, television, literature, news (broadcast, telecast or print) or World Wide Web. But the burning question is what will deter rapists?
Research shows that there are multiple causes of this kind of abhorrent crime. Factors leading to rape include alcohol and other drug consumption, rapist being impulsive and having antisocial tendencies, having an exaggerated sense of masculinity, having a low opinion on women, having sexually aggressive friends, having been abused as a child and having been raised in a strongly patriarchal family. We also know that Indian men are brought up to be dominating and conquering with a heightened sense of masculinity. In fact, most films and literature show the man making a sexual advance and the woman initially resisting, but then finally positively responding by falling in love with him. The implied message is that men should persist beyond a woman’s protest. New research reveals that gang rape is emerging as a new social phenomenon across cultures and settings. Gang rape is perceived as a way of group bonding and is subject to considerable peer pressure.
What we are contemplating now is all about punishment after the crime has been committed. I, for one, believe that the focus should also be on how to eradicate this crime from the society through other community measures. As responsible human beings, we need to ensure that we communicate to our children on sexual matters; parents should instill positive behavior among their sons towards women in general. We need to sensitize young men to question prevailing norms that equate masculinity with forced sex. Today’s youth should have an understanding of human rights in the context of how they should control their own bodies. The teachers have an equally important role to play here. Boys in society should be brought up in such a way that they MUST learn to respect Women in all her avatars. We also need to see that our children are not exposed to violence that is transmitted through social networks across generations. Female victims should also be taught and encouraged to seek redress at the first sign of any untoward behavior. Out police and health service providers need to be non judgmental and be prompt and proactive in their action. They should act at the first complaint and not wait for a serious crime to get committed.