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60% rise of reported rapes in India since 2012: It's not just patriarchy, misogyny, atrocity, it's more than that

By Sheshu Babu*
'I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection' -- Sigmund Freud
Condemning rapes and harassment of women has become a routine with increase of these cases over the years. Among the ten countries reporting incidents of rape, nations like America, Canada, Sweden and UK appear in the list (wonderlist.com, Ejaz Khan). About 36% of women globally have been reported experience either physical or sexual intimate violence.
In India, according to the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), 2013 Annual Report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India (Rape in India, en.m.wikipedia.org) in 2012. Out of these, 24,470 were committed by someone known to the victim.(98% of cases). Thus, mostly 'relatives' are cause of rapes.

Gory incidents

The crimes have risen sharply. Statistics show that since 2012, reported rape cases rose by 60% in India to around 40,000 in 2016 with child rape accounting for 40% ("Sorry, but rape is a political issue in India", Ujjwal K Chowdhury, April 19, 2018, dailyo.in). A total of 34,651 cases were reported in India. Of these in 33,098 cases, the offenders were known to the victims. So, the hue and cry after Nirbhaya case had little impact.
Gory incidents like fathers raping their child have also come to light. For eight years, a girl from Anjala in Punjab said her father raped her. The 21- year old broke her silence after watching TV coverage of Mumbai rape incest case. The girl's father Ashok Taneja was later arrested. 
In an article, Annie Giwen describes how girls are beaten even when they are raped by fathers ("An Indian teen raped by her father. Village elders had her whipped", May 9, 2016, washingtonpost.com). Girls are forced to accept that the fault is theirs.

Possible reasons

Fathers who indulge in such heinous acts are often drunk, perverted and have some sort of crime record. Some may even have uneasy or troubled past. Assaults and sexual abuses by family are used as a punishment if the girl marries outside her community. Honour killings have been increasing. 
Also, the tool of 'corrective rape' is used to 'straighten' a girl's sexual orientation ("Parents use 'corrective rape' to straight'en gays", Rupam Jain, June 1, 2015, timesofindia.com). In a country where normal rapes are under-reported, the incidents of corrective rapes may not even be talked out for a long time due to trauma and shame experienced by the victims who are mostly girls.

Need to address

Though uncomfortable to speak and debate, such barbaric atrocities must be addressed. In a country where girls are seen as personal property of men, such instances reflect stark exploitation even in families. The very nature of ' father' is questionable as his character of giving care and love becomes that of a rapist with sexual lust when such incidents come to light. 
Heart-wrenching stories like 'My Father raped his daughter. And I am their Baby. My story" ( Rowena Slusser, May 25, 2015, lifesitenews.com) compel us to think of such crimes and find solution to stop such horrific exploitation of girls.
Blessin Mushohwe, a child rights and policy consultant at UNICEF, rightly says that society must actively keep its eyes open for signs and symptoms of sexual abuse on schools, churches or even as they play at home. ("When fathers rape their daughters", July 30, 2014, theherald.co.zw). 
Research points out that rituals, driving of evil spirits, lure of money etc. are chief causes of such crimes. Therefore, people must be given rational education about abstaining from such heinous acts.
Girls should also be taught about domestic violence. An 11 year-old-girl in Mumbai was encouraged by a lecturer on ill-treatment and called child helpline 1098 to report rape by her father. (sharmeen.hakim@timesgroup.com, posted July 12, 2018, ). The court sentenced him under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences ( POSCO) Act. The child has shown bravery and exceptional courage.
Any word to describe such rapes seems very euphemistic. Girl children and women should be protected from cruelty and horror of domestic rapes and violence.
Leon Hoffman, MD, discussing a case of 'Dora' treated by Sigmund Freud ("Fathers and Daughters", posted Jun 4, 2014, psychologytoday.com) says, "...Adolescent girls need attachments to fathers and other men and they need to be heard. Fathers need to listen in order to remain available to support and protect their daughters". This responsibility should rest on every father so that girls gain confidence and trust. 
Social analysts should conduct awareness programmes on parental guidance and drive away evil practices from society.
---
Writer from anywhere and everywhere, inspired by a lyric of Gaddar that describes the treatment of new born girls and women: "Nindu amasa naadu O! Lachcha Gummadi.... Aada pilla puttinado O! Lachccha Gummadi' (On a new moon day oh! Lady ( lachcha gummadi) , a girl was born oh! (Lachcha gummadi)"

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
The fault lies in our society where women are ''hidden''from men. I have seen young men, mostly in their early 20s and coming from the hinterland, who gape at the sight of women walking around in the city. They are potential rapists

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