“Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.”
-Freda Adler, criminologist
When a woman is sexually harassed, her misery just doesn’t end there. In our country, the rape is generally followed by societal stigmatization of the woman. The woman is bombarded with questions that are distasteful in nature as well as inconsiderate about her well-being. Not only is this pitiless behavior displayed by the ever-sensationalizing media, but also by authorities such as the police, the doctors and the judges who should know better than to aggravate the agony. Rape victims constantly come across remarks that are extremely humiliating and psychologically painful. The fact that the victim is suffering from trauma is forgotten by most people. This is primarily because there is a lack of empathy among many. Our words and actions hurt more than we realize. They add to the grief that the victims are already going through.
The police question the women about issues such as whether she was alone prior to the rape or what she was doing at such late hours in a very paternalistic manner. These questions are insensitive given the situation the woman already is in. People around the victim, including some closed ones unfortunately, demean the girl's character by blaming her for her romantic relationships or choice of clothes. In many other cases, rape victims face ostracism from those who are not only strangers but also those who are supposed to care for her.
We are well aware of 16 December 2012 when the striking Nirbhaya case happened. The young girl was not just beaten but also heinously gang raped and tortured in a private bus. The friend who was accompanying her was also ruthlessly beaten and forced to witness his friend’s suffering. After this, she was thrown out on one side of the road with him. Passersbys of the incident did not try to help the two. Many just watched it happening from their cars and went ahead. Such inhumane indifference is a matter of concern.
After this news was broadcasted, people got agitated and many came on roads asking for justice for Nirbhaya. But by then, the repercussions had already taken place. It is more important to create an environment where these women feel safer even before anything happens; and more importantly, others feel willing to help those in need. It is important to understand that prevention is better than cure.
This is a shame since even in the times such as 21st century believed to be exemplar of liberalism and egalitarian thought, women are denied necessary protection and safety. According to National Crime Bureau records, 34651 rape cases were reported in India. Among these 33,098 cases, the offenders were known to the victims. Nearly 3.27 lakh cases of crimes against women were reported across the country. 1.3 lakh were sexual offences- 1.2 lakh in states and 9,445 in union territories. Madhya Pradesh has reported 4391 rape cases, highest among Indian states. Furthermore, National Capital has reported 2,199 such cases highest among the union territories.
Violence against women and the number of rapes in India continue to rise. A woman is raped on average every 30 minutes in the country. Female victims still face many barriers. These include poorly trained doctors, callous police, shoddy forensic practices, and the delays that permeate India's judicial system. If the victim goes to file the FIR, many a times they are asked to settle outside court or threatened not to file the FIR. In some cases, the women get tired of these processes so much that they settle with the attackers. Rape victims are treated more like criminals in our country. If they are in schools, colleges or working, they are asked to leave these. All such responses to victims make them lose hope in the justice system. “If you're a woman in distress, the last thing you want to do is go to the police,” says Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer based in New Delhi. Experts agree that the police are poorly organized to deal with serious crimes, particularly those against women.
Rape is associated with sex which is already a taboo in India. This leads to the increase of stigmatization. Many a times, victims are treated as if they are not part of this society. This is not correct and people need to understand their pain because they are unaware of what really is going on with the victim. They need as much love and support as they can get. We, as a society, should stand as a backbone to them rather making them weak. We should give them strength which they lose in such times and make sure that our society is such a way that each woman feels safe and free.
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