The Awful “11% Truth” About Rape In India – Attackers Go On to Lead Normal Lives, 89% of Victims DO NOT

The past 10 days in India have been interesting to behold.  A horrific attack on December 16th in Delhi left a young, innocent physiotherapy student fighting for her life for two weeks only to die needlessly after being gang raped on a moving bus by six men – and then by a rusted metal rod.  Her tragedy has united a nation and fuelled outrage over violence against women – to a level that I personally hadn’t witnessed since moving to Bangalore in April 2011.

angela-carson-bangalore-india-delhi-rape-protest-december-2012 Over a fortnight, more articles have been published about rape than ever before, with Tweets and social media messages focused on the indignation that people feel over the treatment of Indian women.  A black dot has become a symbol of protest over the recent tragedy in Delhi.  The names of the murderers – because they are now murderers and not just rapists – are public knowledge.  A Wikipedia page was quickly setup in support of the people’s demand for justice because even if a man is caught on tape or there was a witness to an assault on a woman, almost any man can bribe his way out of any wrongdoing. With the low 27% conviction rate, chances are pretty good that a rapist will never spend a single day in prison.

Personally, I almost cried when I read the details of the gang rape so I decided then and there to educate myself about rape in India and use my voice to help keep the conversation about violence against women alive.  But educating oneself about rape is awful – no matter what country is being dissected.  A part of me wishes I hadn’t learned some of the ugly truths about rape and incest in India.  My open mind extends quite far, and I have a great respect for the beauty of our cultural differences.  However, when it comes to women’s safety in India, even with the atrocities aside (because those happen in every country, it is not specific to India), there are realities about rape and incest in India that I am having a tough time getting my head around and understanding.   

FACTS in India:

  • Every 20 minutes a woman is raped in India according to the number of registered rapes (this figure it much higher as most rapes go undocumented)
  • India is ranked third in rape after US and South Africa
  • 228,650 of the 256,329 violent crimes recorded in 2011 were against women
  • Conviction rate for rape cases is 26.6%
  • Each week countless victims of rape commit suicide because of the way they are treated following the rape by the police, doctors, their own parents and the community
  • While conducting medical examinations, many doctors record unscientific and degrading findings from the archaic “two-finger test”. A doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine whether the hymen is broken.  The findings from this test are admissible in court, often blaming women’s behaviour for the offense.
  • Victims are often encouraged to marry their rapists
  • Police and armed forces were the perpetrators in 30 out of 600 media articles of violence against women between September 2011 to November 2011
  • Over the past five years, India’s leading political parties have offered tickets to 27 candidates accused of rape and a 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women (assault, harassment, etc.). Today, two members of parliament and six members of the various state legislative assemblies are facing rape charges, while 36 others face charges for lesser crimes against women

Here’s what I am having a tough time getting my head around and understanding:

angela-carson-bangalore-expat-blog-india-victim-statistics-trying-to-understand-why-rape-happens 1. Why are so few rapes being reported to the police?

I was sad to discover the “11% Truth” about rape in India – or what happens to a child or woman after being a victim of a rape or incest.  I surveyed and asked If a girl or woman is raped in India, will she have the same chances in life as anyone else? (for example, to find a good husband, live a normal family life, etc…)A resounding 89% of Indians believe that she never will.  That means that only 11% of victims will end up leading a happy ‘normal’ life if anyone were to find out that she’d been raped.  In part, that explains very vividly the low number of reports filed following a rape.  Keeping it a secret seems like the only chance some girls have to find a good husband later.

Unlike other countries with female officers and special police units at every precinct who are trained to deal with victims of rape and incest, the police in India seem to discourage reporting rape, even by the female officers (who are only allowed to work I hear until 6pm).  If a victim gathers the courage to report the attack, she often encounters resistance and is demeaned by police.  According to the BBC, a retired police officer estimated that only one out of nine cases of violence against women that is reported to the police is ever registered.  The police ‘counsel’ victims and encourage them not to register the crime.  Police officers “have been told by their political bosses to keep the crime figures low” (BBC 17 July 2011).

A rape victim’s life often changes for the worse by no fault of their own.  In contrast, a rapist – a violent menace to society with no regard for the law or decency – seems to have a carte blanche seal-of-approval from the police…which is simply mind boggling.

 

angela-carson-bangalore-expat-blog-india-victim-statistics-trying-to-understand-rape-shame 2. Why are victims and their families shamed?  Why are some girls banned from their homes and villages?

Next is the unbelievable reality that Indian society will often place a tremendous load of shame and loss of status onto the innocent woman, girl or boy (because with children, boys are victims of rape and incest too) and their family.  I tried to understand this but I just don’t, and probably never will.

Victims of rape were just innocently walking to work, working in the fields, waiting for a bus, sitting inside their home, or strolling through the park before being violently attacked.  Their only crime is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Just like the victim of a car accident.  Yet victims of car accidents are supported, treated with tender love and care … and openly prayed for by friends and family and the community.  Rape victims are looked down upon.  They have to find the strength both mentally and physically to recover from the vicious attack, often times only to realise that life as they knew it – or dreamed of it being – is now over.

When I asked If a girl is raped, does this bring shame – or embarrassment – onto the family of the victim?  50% of respondents answered YES.  A large number of respondents left follow-up comments to that question like, “my personal answer is no, but the real answer in many Indian families would be yes.”  I read countless stories of village girls and women thrown out and banned from their homes after being raped.  This is done to minimise damage to the family’s status within the community and reduce the level of shame brought down upon them as much as possible.  A few lucky girls find an NGO or women’s shelter where they will be safe and take classes to become a skilled labourer (sewing, cultivating mushrooms, etc.) so they can eventually support themselves and start to rebuild their life.  But imagine what happens to the rest.  Some are forced to marry their rapist by their own parents.  It breaks my heart to think about it.

 

angela-carson-bangalore-expat-blog-india-victim-statistics-understand-rape-who-is-to-blame 3. How is it possible that the Rapist isn’t 100% to blame?

I’ve now read more backwards, uneducated, idiotic excuses and rationales for rape than I ever knew existed.  Seriously!  And what is even more horrifying than the excuses were the countless number of influencers saying them – including WOMEN.

In India, a dangerous game is played out each day by a shocking number of educated people of influence.  When someone we look up to or admire has something to say, that opinion is generally given more weight and is deemed more credible.  So it is unbelievably reckless for influencers to make public statements or be quoted even once as saying that victims are somehow or in any way to blame for rape or incest.  Yet it happens every day all around the country.

On January 3, 2012, DNA reported that the police chief of Andhra Pradesh blamed “provocative dress” for the increase in rape.  A female poet, author and columnist wrote about the increased violence against women, stating that “seductive advertising has unlimited influence on youngsters” as if to say that women in adverts render young men uncontrollable and – what? – unable to distinguish right from wrong, thus leading to their violence?  Recently, the Sub-Inspector of Surajpur police station in greater Noida stated of a victim of rape that “She dressed in a manner that people get attracted to her.  In fact, she wants them to do something to her.” 

I’m sorry but … what a giant load of CRAP!

I’m from Los Angeles and I just spent the last 10 years living on the beach in Barcelona, Spain where light nudity is in advertising in magazines and television every day.  In Spain, most women sunbathe topless and nudist beaches are commonplace.  Women wear shorts, strappy tank tops and sundresses every day.  And never once in all those years, even commuting for seven years on a train in Barcelona where everyone is packed in like sardines, was I ever groped, stared out, made to feel uncomfortable or felt in danger of being raped.  Not once.  Ever.  No matter what I was wearing, the time of day, or where I was.

A girl doesn’t get raped because she is wearing a dress or walking after dark.  A girl gets raped because a man raped her.  Period.

I would think that most Indian men should be insulted by influencers making statements like those above and would want to step in to change those misconceptions.  India is home to men with wonderful gentle spirits, highly educated innovators, inspirational leaders and men who are truly spiritual.  My interpretation of these crazy “reasons for rape”is that:

  • Some Indian men are reduced to nothing more than an animal if he sees an image of a sexy female on the net or in an advert
  • Some Indian men lose control if they catch a glimpse of a modern Indian woman wearing something other than a salwar, saree or burka

Men aren’t animals, they are humans.  And what sets us humans apart from the animals is an ability to make rational choices based on what is right and wrong, or what is lawful or not.  A man who kills or rapes is a criminal.  He either can’t tell right from wrong or he simply doesn’t care.  But he should be behind bars and held accountable for his actions.  Because his actions needlessly cost the life of an innocent victim.  Maybe not literally as in the case of the Delhi gang rape victim but any victim of incest or rape – especially in the case of children – is robbed of virtue, their innocence and often their own spirit … because it was violently raped from them.

 

angela-carson-bangalore-expat-blog-india-statistics-capital-punishment-chemical-castration-rape Personally I don’t believe in capital punishment but when I surveyed folks here about the type of punishment that a rapist should be given it was interesting to see the high percentage of men and women who want either the death penalty or chemical castration as punishment today.

Everyone always says that change takes time in India.  I guess it does anywhere.  But another girl or a woman was raped in India while you read this so to me it seems like time is of the essence.  Who’s to say that next time it isn’t someone we love?  Although it was just one of many, that single tragic gang rape in Delhi has brought together a nation to talk about change. Very few moments in our lifetime will ever have this same impact and power again and it should not be taken for granted.  Force influencers to talk responsibly about rape from now on by placing full blame for rape where it belongs – on the rapist.  Drive change to ensure a woman’s basic human right to safety is finally granted.

As for me, if I could change one thing, I would change society’s view on rape victims so that no girl ever commits suicide after being raped again, so that no victim is ever shunned or made to feel she’s now a source of shame to her family and so that no victim’s future is ever stolen from her again.

XOXO Angela

© 2012  Angela Carson.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce any part of this article without the author’s permission.

Stats for this article were pulled from the Government of India, India’s national crime records, India’s Union Home Ministry, NCRB statistics, news articles, etc.  Some good reads and sources of information are:

http://www.ecoi.net/local_link/218322/339206_de.html

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/121226/india-gang-rape-protests

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/29/india-rape-victim-s-death-demands-action

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Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 32 countries on 4 continents, residing in 7 of them (currently Kuala Lumpur is my home). By day I'm a digital nomad and by night I'm a passionate storyteller. I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!
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70 Comments on “The Awful “11% Truth” About Rape In India – Attackers Go On to Lead Normal Lives, 89% of Victims DO NOT

  1. Angela, Your Statistics are quite high I read in the Times of India that out of 635 rape cases in New Delhi this year only one got a conviction. This is disgraceful. Cheers, Keith

    • Wow, that is a really ugly stat you found. I triple checked my # so I know that it is the public “correct” figure. Let’s hope it improves (especially yours!) xoox

  2. Thanks for this very insightful post. I wholeheartedly disagree with the police chief of Andhra Pradesh and his whole idea of “provocative dress” being to blame for the spike in rape cases. Your point to the experience in Barcelona further adds that it is BS. However, it’s the Indian mentality and a lot of people are still living in ‘old’ times. This of course is passed down generations. I know Indian brothers and Uncles who have beaten their sisters and nieces for showing the slightest bit of what is considered “too much skin” in India.This is not okay.

    What I don’t understand is why this one single atrocity is what is bringing about the push for change. Don’t get me wrong, it is long overdue and definitely needed. But as your statistics show, this is not a rare occurrence and it is certainly not the first time a woman has been rape and killed in India. Let’s take Kashmir for example. Rape by CRPF assholes is a regular occurrence in a state where Kashmiri’s are outnumbered by 3 to 1.

    And to your final point about what you would change. I second that and hope that this gang rape and protests/awareness brought forth will have a positive impact on changing Indian mentality and not increase this backwards thinking of “woman must have done something to deserve it.” It’s high time families of rape victims start to be supportive as opposed to aggressively shunning.

    • Hi Margarita, thanks for sharing your insights. I’m not sure what it is about this one case that set the entire nation on fire but it is something we may never witness again in our lifetime. Let’s take full advantage and make some change 🙂 xoox

  3. Thank you Angela for your post, strong and documented post, and so true. And thank you for writing “A girl doesn’t get raped because she is wearing a dress or walking after dark. A girl gets raped because a man raped her.”
    “A girl gets raped because a man raped her.” – in the fields, while she’s working so hard, or any other place, any other age, a child, a student, or teenager, incest, anything. This is true.
    I was so sad to read a little more than the awful i already knew, about this young student, and so sad to learn that she died.
    So horrified also to read in the newspapers that in Congo, some men use rape as a weapon.
    And what let me so bad was to read, and again you confirm, that some policemen try to convince victims of rapes to get married to the rapist.
    This is such abomination.
    I wonder, besides the rapists, who are these men, what husbands, fathers, brothers are they, who are those women, mothers (…), those who ask a victim to marry the man who raped her ?!
    It lets a very little small way out, for a girl or a woman who suffered rape, to escape from committing suicide, in such conditions.
    Thank you again, because i hope so much that a change will start for women in India and all over the world, and this can only happen things are obviously said and written.

    • Hi Nathalie, I actually went and edited my article to include your comment that a girl or woman might just be minding her own business working in the fields 🙂 Hope you don’t mind. And that VIVID statement that “women don’t get raped because she’s wearing a dress, she gets raped because a man raped her” I found on Women’s Rights News, it was a photo of a girl holding up a sign with {more or less} those exact words written on it. Concise and TRUE! Check them out: https://www.facebook.com/WOMENSRIGHTSNEWS

      • Hello Angela, it’s all fine for me, I “mind” positively about this ! 😉 So, do I understand that you submitted your article to newspapers ?
        Happy New Year to you !
        I read yesterday that UN asked India to do something about rapes and violence against women and children. Your long article contributes to make things change, and I hope change will happen.

  4. Great post Angela. You have echoed my thoughts on this topic here. I think the biggest challenge I find living in India is watching the way women are treated with such disrespect and disdain. The behaviour and ingrained cultural norms that allow and condone this to continue need to be broken, but I fear we will lose many more women before any change occurs.

    • Hey Rakhee, nice to hear from you here.  I agree with you and not sure how to help to be honest.  You and I can at least write but above that, what can foreigners living in India do?  Have a great NYE xoxo

      • I know, I certainly feel quite helpless here to do anything, but getting the message out there is at least a start.

        Happy NY to you too. I look forward to seeing the party photos on FB.

  5. It doesn’t let me in peace… (i come back again 😉
    A few things come to my mind :
    – a recent TV documentary, in France, about women who had been raped. They all said that they couldn’t prevent themselves from feeling ashamed, and how long it takes to start to “recover”, if you can say so. We are in 2012 and it was the first time i saw women showing their faces, all standing, on a tv report, saying “i have been raped”. So many women.
    – i feel so sad for anyone who died in such a violent way, leaves life that way.
    – about asking a woman to marry the man who raped her : it seems suddenly obvious that rape is not considered as a crime by those people, but just as “sex” (!!!!). So… probably marrying the rapist is a kind of “good solution, everyone happy, no talks, no issue”. Because, otherwise, WHO would marry a murderer ? and rape is already a murder, even when victims are still alive.
    – i also come back on my previous comment on “so tired of being groped…” : it suddenly appears to me that if rapes are less numerous in some countries, it is probably also because women or victims can really ask for justice to be done. So those men who would have such ideas or instincts for rape have to think twice. When you see an ex director of International Monetary Fund being pursued in America for rape by an “ordinary”, (means not powerful) woman, then in France for hustling, it means that women can defend themselves much more than in countries where men know that the risk is almost zero for such crimes.

    Sorry Angela and you, readers, for taking so much space, suddenly ! I feel deeply concerned, as you can see, although i never faced such violence and situation in my own life.

    • Don’t apologize, you added to the conversation brilliantly!  And I agree with you completely, it does seem like it is not a crime here but just sex at times and it is terribly sad.  I would love for Indian women to feel the same safety that billions of women take for granted every day…  -angela

  6. Angela, of all the articles written in the last few days on this subject, yours is one of the most cogent. It’s actually only the second one I’ve been able to read to the end because you’ve highlighted the insights and backed them up with the facts and statistics. I could stop flinching for once. Your article should be more widely read; do consider sending it to newspapers or magazines.

    • That’s really kind of you and I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me.  Will pop back and tell you if it is picked up by a major magazine or paper. xoxo angela

  7. Nice article with a good motive and a note on self responsibilities. Your survey questions are composed and the results are interesting.

  8. Great article Angela! It’s so sad that something so gruesome and brutal had to happen, that someone had to pay such a huge price for us Indians to wake up to the fact that rape is so huge a problem in India.

  9. Great Job Angela,

    I can understand your anger and outrage on this very common but unrealistic approach in Indian Society. I can definitely make you understand the history behind it. But for starters I can only say its the morals and the upbrining of the family that makes one think that he can overpower any minority in this case a women.

    SAMEER

    • Sameer, Please do explain the history behind it. I visited India as a young child and have such happy memories. I was planning a holiday in India (Rajasthan) this February, but in light of the details I’ve now read about how women are treated, I’m probably too afraid to make the trip. I’ve travelled alone in more than 80 countries and have never felt afraid before (despite being groped in a street in France, and a revolting man trying to forcibly kiss me at a bus stop in Italy). However, I simply can’t understand how/why Indian men view women, that makes them think it’s acceptable to grope/rape. Please help me to understand. Thanks!!

      • There is no history, favoring rapist. Who ever says its rooted in history, its only an excuse.
        The truth is,this land is not ruled by moral people and hence lot of immoral things are happening.

  10. Though your point is right some of your statistics lack credibility you compared indias rape rate to US and Africa since when is african a country, You carried out a survey but you do not mention the criteria for the survey and the demographics of the population and you talk about a conviction rate yet you do not compare it to the conviction rate of say homicide to give us a better understanding.

    I agree the recent gang rape case was a horrible event and the if the accused are found guilty the maximum penalty should be brought on them

    No way do i justify the the idea that a woman provokes rape or a child does, it is completely the fault of the rapist or using that logic if a nice car gets stolen its the owners fault for having a nice car or a shop cannot display its best products in the store window because if they get stolen its their fault

  11. Angela, I had seen an interesting show yesterday on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story that was titled “Confronting India’s Culture of Rape” in which one of the persons who was interviewed was a former Commissioner of Police. You might want to try to see whether you can hear the recording.

    As for some way to help, it would seem that the only way is to assist the victims of these crimes in some way.

    Enjoy reading your blogs. Happy new year.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, happy new year to you too! I will try to watch that show, thanks for the heads up! -ange

  12. Good read. But I have a thought.

    You are correct..the ultimately its the individual who are responsible for their violent crimes such as rape. It is violence.

    Like you said, Hitler could not have achieved what he did did without a tinderbox climate and his willing executioners.

    So in this case in India, there are contributing factors that seems to make the crime even worse. Such as taboos surrounding the victim like you mentioned. That is true.

    But there are also other contributing factors from the educated “elite” class of India. That is, their contribution of systematically eradicating India’s own rich culture and Dharmic values system in India. The elites often denigrating Indian Dharmic culture and the taboo of discussing them in public sphere and as public morality since the time of Nehru IMO, has been a contributing factor of immorality and depravity in India.

    A climate in India has been established among the “elite” in “sick-ular” India, you cannot even mention Indians Dharmic values… Its only in pvt space that we can discuss these morality. And the vast majority in Today’s India believe India’s Dharmic values and morals are just not kosher for they have spread the nonsense that India’s Dharmic values and morals that gave the world Gandhi mean just Caste system and Hindutva.

    Manny

      • Oh yeah..I read her blog and then came here… Mea Culpa about assuming it you that posted it. No biggie… My point still stands on India’s liberal “Elite”s contribution to the destruction of the Dhamic culture.

        Today, THE HINDU had an article with the Photo of Vivekananda and denigrating his “masculine” pose that was the impetus for India’s rape culture or something. What next? Gandhi’s masculine shirt less photo that is the impetus for the rape culture? Really?

          • On one end, I am told Indian men are wussies who cry on a dime and who can’t stand up to their mom…blah blah blah… and then this piece about a culture that encourages “Masculine” Men which drives them to rape? Ha Ha!

        • The leftist news paper THE HINDU had an article today with a photo of Swami Vivekananda alluding to his “Masculine” pose as the impetus for the rape culture in India.

          What next? Gandhi’s shirtless photo and his masculine pose that triggers the rape culture of Indians?

          Really? I’d be darned!

  13. A good post, Angela. Another important data would be an estimate as to what percentage of rapes are actually reported in a society where such an admission would only ascertain that the rest of your life is more hellish than the rape already made it.

    Regarding child victims and incest.

    India is a strongly oligarchic society and a large majority of people ill-treat or abuse people who are further down the ladder of whatever is the context of the power. Age is just one such parameter, and I know scores of women in my own circle, all of whom have been molested before they were even 10 years old. I don’t know if there is an epidemic of pedophilia, but I am inclined to think it is because the little girls are easy victims. Plus, I am sure it is more fun to terrorize little humans who do get terrorized easily. A person who might turn back and slap you back is far less fun.

    So incest also exists, and I mean rape or attempted rape by more often extended family members – uncles, uncles-in-law, brothers-in-law, etc. It is one of the darkest secrets in our society, but it happens because of the readily available victims (not always minors, often adults too) who can be easily overpowered and coerced, and would maintain silence. I personally know many such victims.

    Just because some secrets are well guarded, it does not mean they are not truths.

  14. I would like to say that… I find quite sad if such discussion here (or anywhere) about such issues as rape, violence, any kind of violence, any kind of human terribly sad story, turns into “fighting to save one’s country”. I think that every one of us, here on this blog, we so much like India and indian people, otherwise we would live in another country (for some), read other blogs (for others), get interest in other parts of the world.
    India is far from being alone on such shameful issue. Countries where poverty is important are not specialized in rape, just because of poverty (please excuse me if my expression is not appropriate, I am quite better in french, actually! so I try to manage in english as well as I can, please don’t dwell on my words, i hope you will get the intention), since rich countries also know a lot about violence.
    In France (which is not for me part of the big rich country I mentioned), if you start reading the newspapers, specially local newspapers, you will find as many unbearable stories of murders, rape, incest, etc. as what I could read in the local newspapers in Rajasthan. When suddenly people start to protest in the streets, when big national newspapers start talking about cases of violence, then the whole country seems to be full of rapists and wild animals.
    So I can tell you, we have the same in France !
    I think defending India is not the point (and India doesn’t need to be defended in our hearts). Defending the victims by listening to their testimony, registering their complaint, giving them the possibility to have justice and win, this is essential !
    Of course, who can believe there is no incest in India ? Of course in India, just as in France and every where, these things are carefully hidden. Maybe you learn that one committed suicide. Why? who knows.

    BUT a nation is responsible for the respect of human rights that it gives to its citizens. And a nation must tell murderers, rapists, any one tempted by violence, that their acts will be condemned very strongly.
    It seems that, on this point, India has a job to, so that women cannot be treated that way so easily anymore, so that sex without clear consent equals rape, sex on a child equals rape or incest, etc.
    We could talk about excision in Africa. I think that things are changing there, villagers are educated about this. Same about giving education to the children. Informing people brings changes. This is what we hope, in India as well as in any country.

    Long talk, isn’t it 😉

    • I agree with you 100%. Thanks for chiming in…I refuse to respond to comments when they are so far off the general message of one of my articles … I always appreciate it when someone else steps in 🙂 Have a great one xo

      • One hesitation for Avaaz, maybe I gave the link a little quirky : a friend of mine told me he has some doubts about Avaaz actions and relations with the others associations and organizations. I must admit I know very little about it, but I often see demands for petitions of all kind…
        I let you judge by yourself.

  15. Angela, that’s a very nice post. I view this post from a woman and read it as a woman. I don’t view it as a foreigner’s post about India and neither do I see why anyone else should. We are not counting brownie points based on whether one country has more rapes/incests than the other.

    That said, whatever you have mentioned happens and its a crying shame. Women are still second class citizens in a country which attained freedom several decades ago. We are not free in a ‘free’ country and that is the shame. The fact that a rape victim faces trauma throughout her life and even gets shamed into marrying the rapist is the biggest tragedy. What can get worse than that.
    The physical rape happens at the time of the actual rape, but the mental rape happens over and over again at police stations, by family, by the community, throughout her life.

    • I really like this line “The physical rape happens at the time of the actual rape, but the mental rape happens over and over again at police stations, by family, by the community, throughout her life.” Thanks for taking the time to comment… -angela

  16. What a fantastic article. And what is equally if not more horrifying is some of the responses here, as well as on Sharell’s blog where she has quoted your post. I was raped when I was in university in India, and I had two friends who were extremely supportive and I had the courage to make enquiries about how I could make a complaint to the committee against sexual harrassment on campus. I really wished I hadn’t, because even the way I was treated by members of that committee made me feel worse, and I already felt like it was my fault and I deserved it, of course, because I was a slut, and I was asking for it. I never did anything about it, and it continues to affect me to this date and I am extremely paranoid about coming across as “slutty” again and am very wary around men. Which is sad, because I hope to be in a loving relationship with a man at some point in my life! 🙂 Also having lived in London for the past two years, I have NEVER been groped or felt uncomfortable in public, and I quite enjoy the feeling of being able to walk or travel freely without worrying about protecting myself. Rape is so much more than the physical act itself, and while it is heartening that Nirbhaya’s case has caused a massive stir among people back in India, I really hope it can lead to some lasting changes…but again the question remains, where does one start considering the magnitude of the problem? Thank you once again for your thoughtful post, in a strange way it made my feelings of outrage about what happened to me feel validated.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, and for your honesty about what happened to you in university.  I find it so sad that you and so many countless girls and women are made to feel anything but the love and support your two friends gave you.  I will never accept the mentality of so many people here in India regarding victims no matter how long I live in the country.  Especially those parents who throw their children out from their home or village or force them to marry their attacker.  I love my daugther with every ounce of my being and would die for her a million times over.  Ican’t imagine inflicting even one second of that cruelty onto her over anything — let alone something where her only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I’m happy you are feeling safe on a daily basis now, every woman should know that feeling.  Hugs from Bangalore xoxo

    • You are soooo right.  As I mentioned in the article, violence against women happens everywhere…sadly 🙁   Thanks for the link and taking the time to comment, will read it later tonight. 

    • Her message is quite powerful: “When I was 17, I could not have imagined thousands of people marching against rape in India, as we have seen these past few weeks. And yet there is still work to be done. We have spent generations constructing elaborate systems of patriarchy, caste and social and sexual inequality that allow abuse to flourish. But rape is not inevitable, like the weather. We need to shelve all the gibberish about honor and virtue and did-she-lead-him-on and could-he-help-himself. We need to put responsibility where it lies: on men who violate women, and on all of us who let them get away with it while we point accusing fingers at their victims. ”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/opinion/after-being-raped-i-was-wounded-my-honor-wasnt.html?_r=2&

  17. Hello, a friend of mine sent me a link on Avaaz : we can support their action by signing : http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?fp

    I just regret the title (and the idea) : “India’s war on women”, because I don’t feel it that way, and I can understand that it may hurt Indian’s sensibility and love for their country, and make them feel as if all countries had suddenly such awful opinion about India.
    I just share the link with you.

  18. Ahhhh… Angela ! I have troubles to put a message on your blog today ! I missed the right place, then lost my answer to my own message about Avaaz….. I just wanted to say that I don’t know Avaaz and that a friend of mine was quite discreet about this organization, so I let you all check wether you follow Avaaz or not.
    Bye !

  19. Some of the reason why rapes happen is because the perpetrators are aware that they can get away with it. It is often seen as an expression of power over those who are unable to get legal recourse. In general the more seriously allegations of sexual assault are investigated and prosecuted, the less likely they are to happen – most perpetrators do not wish to lose their freedom or endanger their careers by having such a criminal record.

    However, some aspect of sexual assault can arise as a result of sexual frustration. After having lived initially in Bangalore, and then worked in the UK, the Netherlands and then afterwards living in France, I am surprised why in NONE of these places is a man (or woman) allowed to be prescribed libido-suppressant medication if s/he asks for it and offers to pay for it. It’s so UNFAIR – for example, if I’m working on secondment, I don’t think I can reasonably be expected to have a local girlfriend/sexual companion if I will be leaving after 1-2 years and if the business language I work with is completely different to the local language of conversation (not uncommon in the Netherlands and in the Arab states). When people have lower sex drives they are going to be far less prone to want to interact with people in a sexual manner and incidents like groping etc. would virtually disappear. There should be completely free access to such medication for anyone who wishes to suppress their libido, in the same way that people are free to purchase razors supposing they wish to shave their facial hair.

    Supposing governments don’t want to take the above approach, I do not see why they don’t legalize and strictly regulate prostitution (as in Amsterdam, where the pimps are removed and the sex workers health is monitored and they are able to work in safe premises and refuse clients entry to their premises supposing they do not find them attractive/trustworthy etc.) and also remove any stigma associated with the viewing of pornography (that does not include minors, or unwilling participants). There should also be no stigma associated with sexual relations outside a marital context (e.g. consensually with a prostitute) or with a refusal to ever be married to one man/woman. In today’s world where migration is increasingly common the concept of a marriage to just one person is increasingly impractical.

    Also, another way of minimizing the occurrence of rape is to strongly encourage the signing of ‘sex contracts’ prior to entering a sexual act. The signature of both parties should be filmed by both participants too to prove that neither one has coerced the other and that neither is sufficiently under the influence of a drug that may impair their ability to understand the contract. That way supposing one party then accusses the other of sexual molestation then the defendant can present the video evidence of initial consent in court to the jury. Obviously someone who does not want to enter a sexual act with the person in question is not going to sign the contract (unless coerced, but hence why I specify video evidence as a requirement of the procedure too).

  20. To discourage such crimes from being reported simply to promote the image of India shining – what a tragedy. As for those low lives, to gang rape her and then to assault her insides so brutally. It defies everything that is human. They are sub human and I’m glad Indians (both, decent men and women) are determined to see justice done for Jyoti’s sake and for the sake of a little more safety on our streets.

  21. Angela ,

    You got it spot on with the irresponsible observations from some people in power on the ‘provocation’ for rape. But I would see these regressive statements from a section political crowd, law enforcement and the so called cultural custodians of the society as refusal to accept change . Refusal to believe that this country is moving beyond attempts to divide this country on communal , castist and gender lines.So i wont read much into it .

    Instead ,as a middle class indian who passed through college , being continuously warned on lack of opportunities and as one who saw national television time and new paper columns filled only with lack of basic rights and facilities , i am happy we have moved away from our noise for basic needs. Today, news time is spend on issues like women rights ,corruption and black money .I find this promising. While you might be shocked at what you are seeing and reading in the short time you have spend in this country , i, like most people of my generation (I am not very old by the way:)) find it positive we are discussing these issues in pubic domain.Crime against women and corruption happened 20 years ago as well. But It didn’t occupy public bandwidth because there was job ,food and shelter as bigger questions . Today we have moved on from these issues and that’s why we have these important issues in public domain.So I am confident we will find our solution to this as well. Forget the regressive crowd – they told us to celebrate independence in the 70’s and 80’s when livelihood was in issue.:)

    I am convinced that we are witnessing a nation which is advancing at a fast pace. And though late the young men in the country themselves have got the realization that to make leaps we need to make our women feel secure .After all a person with two hands is more effective than one with only one.

    Today as we write this a 17 year old case in my own small state of kerala -(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suryanelli_rape_case) is being reopened .I think there is hope.

    sreekanth

  22. Angela,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. It is unfortunate that this heinous crime is an all too common occurrence in many parts of the world. I have added a link back to the most recent atrocity of the young Indian student who was gang raped on a bus and subsequently died from her injuries.

    Whether one believes in the death penalty or not, it is a shame that these crimes are not more harshly punished, and in this case, not one of the victims were sentenced to death, which is more than could be said of the victim.

    http://ayannanahmias.com/2013/01/16/body-of-indian-gang-raped-student-returned/

    Be well,
    Ayanna Nahmias

    • Hey, not sure what this (4 people murdering a defenseless victim) has to do with the topic to be honest? 

  23. Hi angela , I got a chance to read your blog and I am thankful for it. And I apologize to the female community that I am also one of the guy that feels that women dress code provocate a man to do ill things towards them , but I have changed after realising that it is not ,and your blog is one of the many reason. But still I believe that a women can avoid dressing which might trouble her husband , father , brother and friends whom loves them for what they are and not for what they dressed

  24. ‘innocent woman, girl or boy (because with children, boys are victims of rape and incest too) and their family. ‘- Don’t forget that men can be rape victims too. I’m not sure if this is an issue discussed much in India?

  25. What can you do to change how society views rape?

    • Start by lowering the status of the woman who has a male child. It is idiotic that in India there is such a cachet about having a male child and such opprobrium about having a girl.

      Unfortunately, women, films, society, television and the parliament (not to mention politicians) all promote the idea that a female child is something to be deplored.

      It’s a shame that in every possible form of communication we emphasize that a female is lesser.

      • Thank you for your response. You made me reconsider my thesis. You are right. The government can’t do much about it because society is bringing this upon themselves. Their views on women increase the chance of rape. Thank you and I appreciate your time.

  26. My name is Susann Jolomna. I attend Joliet West High School. I am currently researching Rape and Women’s Rights in India for World Affairs. My thesis is: The Indian government should add and enforce women’s rights in order to decrease the amount of rape.
    After doing dome research, I still have a few questions about the topic and would appreciate it if you could answer them.

    My questions are:

    What can India do to protect women’s rights?

    How can India change their views on rape instead of seeing girls ashamed of it?

    What do you believe the best punishment for the men convicted of rape? Why?

    India believes chemical castration is the best punishment. What would happen if they had the wrong man?

    Should the U.S. get involved? If yes, what could they do?

    Can you give me advice on how I can improve my presentation?

    I appreciate your help and I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

    Thank you,
    Susann Jolomna

  27. Hi angela. . great article. a couple of points. as an indian male , I am sickened about the attitudes of indian men to women in general. of course, not all indian men are like that. but how do you change attitudes and stereotypes that have been indoctrined in them for generations. it has to start at home in how u raise your sons to respect women in general. I have to wonder sometimes that these men in india who commit these acts, where were their moms , grandmothers, aunts when they were growing up? what about the dowry deaths you read about in the papers everyday,most of which are done by the angry, vindictive mother in law. violence against women in india is also done by women in india. indian men have issues, there is no doubt about that . they have to take good long hard look in the mirror and accept that they are to blame for these unspeakable acts. indian women have not helped the situation by remaining passive for so long and just accepting that this type of behaviour is normal. they have to step up . and now i think they are. there is a revolution coming to india . its about time to. cheers..

  28. Hello Angela, I would like to give a Mathematicians perspective to the so called rape culture in India. If you do Mathematics, India is one of the safest countries in the world, irrespective of what media says or what people like you or any local Indians think. According to UN report, 1.8 in every 100,000 Indian women is a victim of rape. The figure for Ireland is 10.7, Norway, 19.2, and the United States 27.3.
    Though India’s rape victims are just less than 2 in 100,000 ,overall numbers can seem more because India has high and dense population. So, please think before you call India as a different and unsafe country. If you go by just numbers instead of rapes, per 100000 women, then to be fair to India, you should also see the number of safe women as well. Those numbers give the perspective that India is safe. If you call India as unsafe, then most of all other countries in the world are worse.
    Please think like a Mathematician and then decide if India needs to be singled out from rest of the world in crime against women and men.

    • That number is NOT the number of rapes.  That number is the # of REPORTED rapes.  There is a big difference, which is why I wrote this article  🙁  It IS – by FACT not math – a very dangerous country for women, I’ve been attacked as has almost every other woman who I’ve ever spoken to during the two years I’ve lived here.  I was never able to say that while I lived in the USA or Europe. 

    • When I think about all those non-mathematican Indian women protesting against violence and rapes, again and again, in the streets of so many indian cities… If only they knew you, Daren, they would have quietly stayed at home ! So much noise for a little 1.8 number, this is ridiculous !!! Did you tell them ?

  29. Apart from the tribal areas and a few areas in the hills and western India, women are scared to do things which are normal in most societies– go alone for a walk, go jogging, politely smile at a stranger, walk with a feminine gait, etc.

    More than the rape numbers, the problem is the implied threat that if a women acts too independent then she will get social punishment in the form of teasing, molestation, or rape.

    On the number:
    — A lot of the reported rapes are not actually rape– they are inter-caste or inter-religion love couples where the girls parents coerce the girl to file a rape case. Or the girl may file it herself to pressure her boyfriend to marry her. You will find stories like “she was being raped for 2 years.”
    — On the other hand, a massive number of rape cases are not reported out of shame or out of fear of the rapist gang. What has changed is the reporting of rape– women and families having less fear of reporting rape.

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