Looking through the e-papers from the subcontinent, it is hardly ever a day when some incident of rape is not reported. Be it rape of a medical student near the bus stop in New Delhi, a doctor on duty raped after being drugged in Dera Bugti, a minor girl raped by her dance teacher in Bombay, a girl partying with friends in the posh areas of Karachi, a woman gang raped on the order of a local jirga, in Muzaffargarh.
The scenarios differ, cities differ, but the crime remains the same. The mindset remains identical. Age is no bar. Infancy upwards, one finds all age groups being the victims.
Unfortunately this is one situation which sees no barriers of age, color, creed or class, the world over..
Rapes are on the rise in the subcontinent, too.
The statistics do the speaking here…
In 2010, 489 rape cases were reported in Delhi, India while 459 in 2009.The figures given by Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the capital.
Similarly in Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, estimates “every two hours a woman is raped in Pakistan and every eight hours a woman is subjected to gang-rape. Another report I came across claimed that at least 100 rapes are committed in Karachi alone everyday according to Additional Police Surgeon (APS. (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2083578/posts).
Needless to say, majority are not even reported, and just a handful get punished, on either side of the border.
When this is the statistics of two megacities, one can fathom what would be the situation in the other places.
It was worse still to hear responsible men of these cities pass heartless judgements on rape and its victims..
In mid July, Commissioner of Police, Delhi advised women going out late night should be accompanied by a male or a driver, to avoid the risk of being raped.
I remember as a child, in Delhi asking a friend of my fathers who was a senior police officer, ‘Uncle what do you do ?” And he had replied, “Beta, we protect you and others in the city.” Probably he was just bluffing.
Almost at the same time , a video circulated on the social network, in which Karachiite, Munawwar Hussain, the Emir of JI, in a TV interview, surpassed all these responsible individuals and commented that since bringing 4 witnesses for rape is next to impossible, it is better to ‘keep shut’ ones mouth and eyes, on the crime being committed. When the anchor attempted to argue, he simply totted at him the emotional gun of ‘denying’ the writing of Quran. The apathy in his talk and body language for the rape victim was appalling.
Not just our men, but their men also fail to understand…
A few months ago, a police officer from Toronto and a Russian priest from Moscow, had ‘advised’ that women should not “dress like sluts” or “wear miniskirts”, respectively, if they want to avoid rapes.
Not leaving behind London in this race, Kenneth Clarke, the very justice secretary in UK, passed yet another piece of judgement that the rape committed by unknown offender is a ‘serious’ rape while implying that those committed while on a date isn’t. When the anchor interjected “rape is rape”, he replied: “No it is not”.
I wish all these men of responsibility knew the ‘secret’ of why the rapes occur?
It is certainly not because a woman was dressed so, or walked alone on the street late at night, or was attending a party with her friends. No certainly not. Rapes occur because some men want to rape. Yes it is that simple.
And why would these ‘some’ men want to rape ?
This has a simple answer too., Rape is the culmination of a series of systematic experiences that a boy is exposed to, from infancy to manhood—in which he is told, with or without so many words, that he is stronger, and a woman is not just weaker, but a commodity.
How I wish, more than anything else, these responsible people knew what does rape mean to a woman?
Rape is not merely the breach of a woman’s physical privacy, but is followed by cascade of short- and long-term problems, including physical injury and illness, psychological symptoms, economic costs, and death (National Research Council 1996).
In a summary, a rape victim is an embodiment of a severely disturbed and dysfunctional individual for rest of her life, unless properly rehabilitated.
So long as such a mindset persists, the legislation to punish rape would never be a deterrent.
We need to look towards primary prevention of this crime rather than just struggle for appropriate punishment after a case gets highlighted.
We have to empower our girls with ‘right information’ and break the barrier of rape being a taboo issue in front of these ‘innocent’ minds. It is these innocent minds which make them an easy prey.
A girl should be taught to be assertive. As one of the self help sites on rape prevention says: “ Look up as you walk and stand up straight; pretending as though you have two big panthers on either side of you as you walk may sound silly, but it can help boost confidence. Attackers are more likely to go for those who they think cannot defend themselves.”
They should also be told that over 90% of the perpetrators are known to the victims, even if it is an uncle, a cousin or a friend, if she feels the touch as uncomfortable, she must trust her gut and not let it continue.
Moreover, if we cannot change the mindset of our grown up men, we can at least guide our young sons to respect women and not consider them a commodity that is ‘available’.
Use of neo cortex, a sign of evolution, entails men to be able to restrain their behaviours and train their minds that nothing can be forced upon any woman, without her free will.
For those who cannot change their mindsets, a real need for harshest of punishments to the rapist as a mode of learning is mandatory too.
Till the healthier minds grow up, fear of punishment should be the real deterrent against this heinous crime.
Dr Ilmana Fasih.