Law · Women Empowerment · Youth

Morality’s Worst Enemy – Rape

Raghuvansh Seth elucidates the concept of rape and the plight of the rape victims and the societal stigma towards the conception.

The‘unlawful’ sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or the mouth of the person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim, is termed as ‘rape’. It is defined as an offence under Sections 375 and 376 of the IPC, and is undeniably considered as one of the most abhorrent of crimes. Despite the obvious disdain it poses to the concept of ‘morality’ and even ‘humanity’, for that matter, while also taking into consideration the sensitivity of the issue, it is almost appalling to note that there is no other crime about which society is the more ambivalent.

Nowadays, a lot of focus is being put on the number of rape incidents that have being occurring throughout the country, not to mention the number of awareness campaigns and movies that have come across within the last decade, highlighting the graveness of the crime and urging people to come forward. Although they have helped in giving a small group of victims the courage to confront their offenders, there is still a majority of them who don’t come forward. What is more appalling, is the reason that they offer for the question ‘why’ – because they did not think they would be believed, but such responses are almost an understatement, considering the nonchalant responses that the people give to such instances when the victim is not a close relative. Experts such as Abby Maestas have also noted that the society is quick to blame the victims, and such, that even the innocence of a children is questioned . Feminist author Gloria Steinem also stated, “If you are beaten, you’re said to have incited it, if you’re raped, you’re said to have invited it” , further providing evidence to the backward thinking of the society.

It has also been noted on various occasions that the person who commits rape is someone that the victim already knows, and not one of the orthodox creepy guys in a trench coat who roam around in dark alleys. Considering all the above, the very fact that rape is a dirty little secret, the blame that the victims are subject to and the shame they feel before they can even consider coming forward, is testament to how far we still have to go as a society.

Rape is the most intimate of demons and poses a great threat to morality, while also undermining the status of women in the society. It is an attack on the vulnerability and the powerlessness of the women as compared to their male counterparts, and portrays the male gender as a dominant force which can easily take advantage of their physical-prowess on the females. It is a forceful and pathetic act, which not only scars the victims for life physically, but also leaves a gruesome mark on their emotional well-being. It makes them feel unsure of their safety, while also forcing upon them the feeling of being small and insignificant, for the rest of their lives. Such implications are majorly the reason why it is very difficult for the victims to forget about such incidents and move on with their lives.

In some cases, the victims also end up getting pregnant or contract a fatal disease such as HIV or AIDS, and this forces them to deal with the consequences of an act they didn’t even volunteer for. In the cases involving pregnancy, the women are compelled to make a choice, to either give birth to an illegitimate child or to get an abortion, either way, their (so called) ‘sanctity’ as a human being is ruined.

Despite all the such attacks that it aims at the moral side of any particular society, the law still considers it to be subjective, stating the decisions regarding all the germane cases as being dependent upon the relevant facts and the severity of the offence committed. Hence, even though the definition and the punishment for it is described in Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) respectively, the decisions to be made are at the sole discretion of the court. Accordingly, the court may choose to award mere compensation for the crime, or may decide to go with a life sentence, even death, depending on the facts and the circumstances of the case. This, although unrelated, but is interesting to note that the law doesn’t consider the possibility that the males can also become victims of rape.

Under the IPC, it is held that females cannot be held liable for committing rape, and it is only the males who can commit and be punished for the crime, and even if females somehow do manage to rape a male, they cannot be held liable for the offence, since there is no provision in the IPC for such an act. Regardless, as mentioned above, it is also somewhat amusing to note that there are also a considerable group of people who blame the victims for the happenings of rape. They believe that it is the victim and her actions that stimulated the offenders to commit the crime, and provide a bizarre set of reasoning to back up their claims. These are a people of great eminence, such as Asaram Bapu, Rajpal Saini, Chiranjeet Chakraborty and many more, who have gone as far as claiming that it is the short skirts worn by the women that instigate young men to commit such crimes, it is also the possession of mobile phones by the women and children that distract them and thereby instigate such event; therefore, according to them, it is the skimpy dresses and the mobile phones, that should undoubtedly be banned. Then there are ‘Legends’ such as Jitender Chhatar who claim that it is consumption the fast food such as chowmein, which leads to hormonal imbalance, and evoke an urge to indulge in such acts . Such statements, assuredly, don’t offer any alterations to the bearing of rape in our society, but only provide a testament to the fat figures of illiteracy rate in India, which also contribute to the fact that India is indeed a developing country, both figuratively and literally.

Now, there have been several instances wherein the experts have noted that rape is an act of venting out of the anger of a person through another, except in a forceful and sexual manner. It is also a misconception, as portrayed by several films, such as ‘Gone with the wind’. Such assertions only result in intertwining sex and violence, make it look glamorous, eroticize that kind of violence against women, and make it appear consensual, as if women seek this out and want it. It is certainly the most desperate of acts committed by the people who are sexually charged, are sensitive to rejection, insecure about their own masculinity, and have the tendency to distort reality. They have the habit of denying their crimes and often giving irrational excuses to defend themselves, because they fear the retribution of by the people who aren’t rapists. Therefore, rape is indeed the most deplorable of crimes, and there is no conceptuality or philosophy which can make it sound any less inhumane than it already is.

REFERENCES

[1] Access at : http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/articles/rapefeat.html
[2] Access at : http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/articles/rapefeat.html
[3]   : http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/leading-article-rape-is-not-a-dirty-secret-it-is-a-violent-crime-7561648.html