Every time we sit inside a cab alone, our heart thumps with fear. Every time we ride an auto alone, we are afraid. Every time we travel at night, we feel unsafe. The lives of women in our country are choked with the feeling of desperation and fear. Why do we feel unsafe? Why are we afraid to go anywhere without a male companion? This is because we have grown up hearing tales about how women have been raped, assaulted and physically mauled when they are not “careful enough”. Well, if we are supposed to look behind our shoulders constantly, irrespective of where we go, how will we ever live in peace and with freedom? Don’t the women too have a right to move freely? Or maybe we just live in a country where “we are neither safe inside the womb nor outside it!” The incidents of rapes have become a rather threatening issue in India. After 71 years of independence, women are still struggling to gain freedom from fear.
The Oxford dictionary defines rape as ‘the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will’. You would think this is enough to state the graveness of the crime, but think again. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. It is 2018 now, but there has been no extraordinary change in the frequency of rape cases in India. Every day the newspapers are filled with rape cases in different parts of the country. “A woman of 65 was raped”, “child raped by his own cousin”, “marital rape cases rising in the country” and other such headlines flash in front of our eyes, each day. What do we do about it? Even after surrounding ourselves with coming of age technology, we are still as primitive as cavemen. While we make small talk about the environmental pollution in India, we are completely ignoring the pollution that exists in our mentalities.
On June 3, 2018- The times of India featured a news report stating, “Every five days, a woman is raped in Goa”. Records suggest that the number of rape cases registered in 2018 set to overtake the 2017 figure. Cases such as these prove that rape cases are not going away anytime soon! Why should we have to deal with such a heinous crime? Well because our own society cannot do anything about it! Do you believe in the saying “charity begins at home”? Well then, it’s high time we apply it in our daily lives. The process of change begins at the level of an individual. Once we start changing our mindsets, everything will fall in place. We must learn how to respect someone’s personal space and should definitely stop invading someone’s privacy. Yes, that is what rape is all about! When a woman is raped, she loses her right to herself while someone else invades her body.
Have we ever thought about the mental status of a rape victim? No, because we as a society are busy calling her names and questioning her character! This assault is not only physical but also psychological. The kind of pain and pressure the rape victim goes through is unfathomable. One of the most common psychological consequences of rape is self-blame. This idea of the victims blaming themselves, for an incident such as rape, arises due to the society’s mentality. Our society does not really make life easier for the rape or sexual assault victims. If a woman is facing a situation of marital rape, she should deal with it because the outsiders can’t interfere in a so–called personal issue. If a child is raped by her family member, in several cases, the elders just cover up the issue. We do all of this under the façade that- “we are saving the woman from defamation”. Why would a woman get defamed without any fault of hers? So you see, the problem lies in the concepts that we consider as our gospel. This mentality is slowly eating away our sense of justice and our righteousness!
Statistics say that rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. It’s funny how we use the words like ‘rape’ and ‘common’ in the same sentence. If we are the new generation who are vigilant about every social issue, why are the rape cases still rising? Why haven’t we taken any action against this issue? The Indian penal code states that if anyone forces themselves sexually on another individual without their consent, it will be a case of sexual assault or rape. But in reality, the rising menace of rape proves that the law isn’t ironclad. We need better laws and rules to curb this crime because stopping it completely is next to impossible now, right? There are so many cases that might not have been reported, but we all are aware that they exist. The law says the legal age for a minor is eighteen years, with respect to laws for rape victims. But a woman of twenty five or of eighty five are also raped. Do we have functioning laws that can protect them? Even today, children under 10 years are being raped brutally. At such a tender age, a child has to go through a physical trauma like rape. What will happen to them when they grow up? What will happen when they fail to fulfill the ‘virgin and pure’ category?
There is no denying that there have been improvements in the conditions for the rape victims. But at large, the incidence of rape hasn’t stopped. We can talk about the things we do for the victims, but we can’t deny the charts that clearly state the rise in sexual assaults. Are you sure we are capable of understanding the trauma of such crimes? Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi had said, “In India, two children are raped, four are sexually abused and eight go missing every hour.” Gang rape, child rape, marital rape and communal rape have become a commonplace now. The victims are urged to spend their lives in quietude, while the assaulters run free. The person who commits the immoral crime is put behind bars for a few years after which they can walk free. What kind of a justice is this? Our rape victims should be treated justly and equally, because, they haven’t done anything wrong. No one should have the right to force themselves on anyone. We as a society must know how to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong.
India is a free country. So it’s time we have the freedom to ourselves!