Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rape fallout -- fear, suspicion, loss of innocence

These are really bad times.

Most people say incidents of rape haven't gone up. We are only seeing increased reporting of such crimes. Earlier, girls and women suffered in silence. Today they speak up. They go to police stations, file cases, and battle in courts to get the criminals punished.

To say that only the reporting of rape incidents has gone up, is to skirt the real issue. It's no consolation, it's just the opposite. It's like all the dirt, which was lying covered, getting exposed now.

How many of us really understand the enormity of what is striking us every day?

One, the much-spoken-about feeling of insecurity. Women don't feel safe any more, in any place. If every woman hasn't already begun seeing every man a potential molester, it's only because she still has hope in humanity, she still has faith in man. In the midst of all these, we still see couples lost in the warmth of togetherness. Nevertheless, fear, very much in the background, is only growing, and not diminishing.

Two, the loss of innocence of the child. The years till teenage are blissful; or they are supposed to be. Children don't know anything wrong. Everything is right for them. There is only love and happiness in their lives. Even when the toy car rams against the wall, she squeaks in delight. Because she can only see it as good fun.

That innocence, is in great danger of being lost, if not lost already. Children as small as four and five are being told by their parents about "what is good touch and bad touch". Many mothers -- who are forced into going down this lane -- frustratingly concede that they only end up confusing the kids rather than making them feel safer. One mom says her kid asked a counter-question, why she was saying all that.

It's very natural for anyone to smile when they see a child. Today, parents are telling their children to be careful if they see anyone smiling at them. Children are being told not to trust anyone, to tell parents if any stranger has spoken to them or held their arms. They are being told not to be friendly with the uncle down the lane, and not to play with him always, whenever they return from school early. Kids are being told that if ever they need any help, to call only the parents and not anyone else.

Three, parents are getting more and more paranoid. It's very normal for parents to get worried when their kids fall ill, or show unusual symptoms, like lack of sleep, or lack of appetite, or pain in the stomach. Those are, as any parent would know, usual problems every growing child faces. Nothing of any great consequence. But today, parents have begun factoring in the possibility of someone having violated their kids' privacy. Lucky if "possibility" doesn't turn into "probability".

Children after seeing "R or Rose and not Rape" on placards in TV news, ask their parents, what is rape. They enlighten their parents, that it was not R for Rape anyway, and that they have always learnt in school that it's R for Rose only.

I  don't know if anyone of us really understands how our society and a whole new generation is getting spoiled. What sort of society are we living in? With what frame of reference these children grow up? Where are we all heading for?

How do we end this terribly bad run? When will it end?

Any answers?


  1. Very nice and meaningful article.

  2. In short, there is no answer.

    The solution lay in coming out of generic picture and getting localised. If we continue to look at the whole thing as a huge haze, we would simply get immersed in it with nothing visible. Prevention of child abuse is the first step. Rape, the next.

    Therefore, I say, each one think of his or her daughter. When is she not escorted? Where is she not escorted? How long is she not escorted? Answers are likely to be readily available in each one's case. Address only these occasions with specifics and do not get into imaginary fears. Make provision for safety during these occasions.

    Do not address rape prematurely and steal her innocence. Do not teach her what rape is, when it is too early for her and plunge her into eternal fear. She will learn about rape as she grows up. Normally, the learning occurs from peers, assisted by books, films, chats and gossips.

    All one needs to do is to tell her that there are, though rare, evil people in the society who attacks and causes pain and injury. That will make them alert during vulnerability. The care and protection is actually the parent's job (to be performed cleverly without the child being aware), through fore sight, preparation and planning about the child's possible vulnerability. Sounds big, but actually easy for a committed parent.

    I am appending below my earlier write up on rape, its causes and prevention.

    "Quote ....

    The truth is that there is never equality in all aspects in any two things-Living or non-living.
    Take- for the sake of getting realistically close to the current issue- the case of a boy and a girl.

    In beauty, normally the girl is superior.
    In strength, normally the Boy.
    In intelligence, generally at par.
    ... and so on in Art, Sports, Dance, Music, etc.

    There are many cases in the reverse too, but equality in all these, is not a realty, in its true sense.

    The Root Cause of 'rape' normally is a compendium of four factors. These are: -

    1. The attractiveness of the victim-the girl.
    2. The physical superiority of the culprit.
    3. The uncontrolled sexual desire of the culprit
    4. The favorable environment experienced by the culprit.

    The solution, therefore, must stem from these factors.

    1. The attractiveness of the girl is her birth right and needs to be accepted and protected.
    Veil is sometimes used a remedy against rape, but not always successful and neither preferred. In any case, it will infringe upon the freedom of the girl/ lady. Hence, let us say, we need to accept that women shall continue to look attractive, at their will.

    2. The physical superiority of the culprit is again an act of nature, and may continue to exist. This can be off set by empowering women through training in martial arts, providing weapons such as laser guns or by self protection equipments such as chilly powder or pepper sprays. There is a need to think and enhance this capability in a way that is acquirable by low income group women too, at all places.

    3. Sexual desire for a man is again an act of nature. However, its control is what society can facilitate. The grooming, upbringing, religious teachings, and own self esteem are all important factors. Above all, extreme fear of stringent punishment is the best medicine for a man to control his sexual desire.

    4. Favorable environment should be denied to the culprit. The society must position security personnel at places where ladies are likely to move about in a vulnerable condition. At night, security lighting should be ensured at identified places for the safety of women. Women must try to move in groups or be in general crowd as far as possible. Keep a mobile phone ready with chosen number for dialing. look around for escape zones in case of an attack. Avoid attractiveness momentarily, until tiding over the awkward situation. Take detour to safety even if it causes delay in reaching home or the destination. Regain safety earliest.

    In my opinion, it is the combination of the above solutions that will, prevent rape.

    ..... Unquote.

  3. Nice write-up. Have all along been against genetic testing on people as I am concerned the data would be used by big unscrupulous insurers, bankers, employers and other groups to discriminate against your candidature or opportunities in many realms. But maybe that is our best answer, forced genetic testing to find out who among us are deficient in a given chemical or trait that would prompt us to act violently towards another human being. Such data once used to tag a person as violent or normal should then be erased forever so that it is not used by unscrupulous...

  4. Pradeep, well written. Difficult questions raised, no clear answers. But that is the fact of life. Is it only in India that it is happening? Is there any learning from other countries on how we can go about it. I feel Media needs to play a big part in this

  5. A very sad and unfortunate state of affairs! Where are we heading?

  6. (From Facebook)
    Very good article. It will end when we teach the younger generations about actual respect. We have to teach the children.

  7. (From Facebook)

  8. (From Facebook)
    The despair and concern are well described in appalling details. The disintegration of an establishment that we used to call "family" is broadly responsible for this situation. We need to start from our homes as the perpetrators and victims of such acts do come from their respective homes. Values need to be inculcated into young minds first by the parents and then by the society. As long as fiscal achievements and physical pleasures are given the prime space in society I doubt any measures to obviate such incidents would lead to any tangible result.

  9. (From Facebook)
    Age of innocence - a myth in these modern times? Very thought provoking article... Hit the nail on the head - Suresh Panikker! It is not just charity that begins at home - more importantly character building needs to begin at home!!!

  10. (From Facebook)
    So it's wrong that women should report rape and sexual assault? Hasn't warning children against molesters always been part of education? Being warned about suspicious strangers never affected my well-being as a child, and on the contrary, it probably saved me on one occasion.

  11. (From Facebook)
    It is essential that we must protect our children from rapists. On the other hand we must work on the problem why there are rapists in the first place. Nobody is born a rapist. It's the upbringing these people are raised in which makes them develop psychological disorders which manifest in violence and abuse.

    Studies have shown that the more unequal a society is, the more violence and other problems happen. That's why the US have such a high crime rate. They are one of the most unequal nations on earth. Whereas the more equal Japan on the other hand has very low crime rates.

    It's easy to see why that is so: The poor are under constant pressure of finding jobs, they see lots of people who have it better which also puts psychological stress on them, parents have to get multiple jobs to be able to feed their family, therefore they can't be there for their children, etc. The rich are also under stress trying to preserve their wealth, they also have few or no people they can relate to on a social basis, i.e. no real friends, which is also very important for psychological health. That's why we see crimes happen often amongst the very poor and the very rich.

    Sadly, instead of creating a more equal society, it's easier to just lock bad people up and increase security and surveillance. That's just dealing with symptoms and not with the actual disease. An equal society will probably not totally eradicate rape, but it will lower the rate drastically.

  12. Sabine, no, nothing wrong in women reporting such incidents. In fact, they should. In India, now more women are overcoming their reluctance and reporting. That's a very good trend. And I think women shouldn't take such violations and breaches of confidence lying down.

    In the traditional Indian context, until recently, the educational curriculum didn't cover these aspects. Now, parents at home, and teachers in schools, tell children about the dangers of the real world outside, bad touch, molestation etc. My article was also about the way the traditional Indian society is changing.

    Alexander, you have made a very good point. I completely agree with you. One reason for the rising crime in India, including incidents of rape, is the widening inequality. Though the standard of living of everyone is getting better, it's more pronounced among the rich. People in the upper strata of the economic ladder move up faster than those in the lower levels.

  13. You have raised some excellent points. There should be death penalty for rape and it should be enforced quickly. Otherwise nothing will change.

    Also, we should be aware of false rape charges. Remember, recently a woman in Mumbai complained she was raped several times on different dates. (Why didn't she go to the police when she was raped the first time?) Reminds me of this joke. The judge asked the woman when did you find out you were raped. She replied when I found out the check he gave me was bounced.