Rising Incidence of rapes in Odisha – It’s Time For Action Now

Stop Rape

A helper of moving bus climbs to the sleeper section and frightens and then gags the woman on the compartment to rape her ! A minor blind girl was raped brutally on the outskirts of her house and then killed. While another woman gang raped in front of her husband who was tied and beaten inside the hospital premise!

Seem like plots airlifted from some daily soaps! No, these are incidents of violence on women those have hit Odisha in the past couple of months. And as investigations continue and arrests made allegations and counter allegations continue to fly high on the media rendering one to think whether the statistics being thrown on your face about the rising rape cases in the state, are merely numbers or it is just the play of media that seeks to enthuse the audience with potpourri of  facts spiced up with right doses of emotions or is there something that is slipping out of our hands and  disturbing the cultural fabric of our society.( As if rape is a term and action completely alien to the god fearing people of Odisha)

While on the wake of the infamous Delhi rape case, culture was taken as pretext and observations made by the RSS chief duly endorsed later on by the Puri Sankracharya that “rapes happen in India and not in Bharat”  shook the entire nation and drew acidic remarks from many quarters  in the society, it is also a just pretext to do a proper evaluation of the rising number of rapes with context to the geographical /cultural background!

In a report released by Dr. Mrinal Satish  of the Delhi’s National Law University, it has been demonstrated that  rape is a crime that does not identify contours or cultures. It is predominantly an instinct that is devoid of any such reasoning.  Based on his conclusion from data collected  from  high courts and supreme court on the  number of rape cases, covering a period of 25 years from 1983 to 2009, one can safely assume that to say “rapes do not happen in Bharat” is completely nonsensical.

The distinction between “Bharat” and “India” being that of culture ( as accentuated by the revered Sankracharya) and nothing better epitomizes the culture of the country than that of the rural population. So it comes to a cropper as one scuttles through the pages of the report. It cites that over 80% of rape cases in the High Courts and close to 75% of rape cases in the Supreme Court came from rural areas. Close to 75% of gang rape cases in HCs and 63% of gang rape cases in the SC came from rural areas. Over 65% of cases involving the rape of a child (less than 12 years old) came from rural areas. On average, 75% of all rape cases in higher courts that had led to at least one conviction came from rural areas”.

Well, the study is clearly an eye opener to the fact that nothing called culture or dominion comes to fore while a girl is being raped. It is simply a clear case of physical violation by a person of sick mentality. It exists because of a patriarchal, misogynistic mentality that condones it, whether tacitly or explicitly, and because of widespread lawlessness that encourages it.

In order to completely stop the rising incidence of  violation on woman,  a two pronged strategy needs to be adopted. First a gradual social change through education and a rapid reform in law.

Students need to be educated  starting at the school level, about respect for women, for personal spaces and for the rule of law. Showing children early on that people of other gender are equal, needs to become the  central point  to our education system. Girl child should be taught that they are equal, and they are more likely to be treated that way. Self defence classes should be introduced in the school level itself . Similarly the boy child should be conditioned to respect his female counterparts. They should be taught  that girls are equal. Boys should also be given empathy training to show them what it’s like to be a girl. Courses on anger management may be introduced.

We need to introspect, all of us, on how we contribute to the objectification of women, from the popular culture we consume to the way we bring up our children — from where it’s a slippery slope to a twisted and unjust understanding of sexual assault in legal terms.

In terms of the law, we urgently need a more comprehensive and inclusive definition of sexual violence, critical amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure that will reduce the time taken for trials, fast track courts for sexual assault cases, harsher punishments and a serious programme of police reform and sensitization.  More importantly, we need a police that is more sympathetic to the female victims of violence. All of these are doable, and all are equally crucial — not just for better implementation but also to signal the seriousness with which such crimes will be viewed.

 

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