‘We call man a gentle animal:
And, if nature has been kind to him and his education has been right, he is the most gently and god-like of creatures.
But if his education is inadequate or bad,
He becomes the most savage of all the products of the earth.’
‘Rape' of Girl, Mother Shocks Handwara (GK-8th November 2004)
This headline talks of the alleged rape of a 10-year-old girl and her 29-year-old mother by security personnel. Atrocities by army and police in Jammu & Kashmir are numerous but when it comes to this specific issue of rape, it needs a special mention. Reading this headline and casting a single glance at the photograph of this small girl and her mother, desperately trying to gather whatever dignity is left of them, was enough to stir something in me and prompt me to react. A mere photograph imprinted on my mind…I wonder what is imprinted on the minds of those who have experienced this horrible tragedy called ‘rape’.
Rape includes attempted rapes, male and female victims, and heterosexual and homosexual rape. However, generally our society witnesses rapes of females-both girls and women. Rape victims suffer such a deep trauma as it not just a physical but also a mental torture. It renders them hopeless and scarred for all time to come. This pain clings to their lives cruelly. The word ‘crime’ is too mild and cannot justify this barbarous and dreadful act. Being raped, the dignity of a woman is assaulted, vandalized, and cruelly mocked.
‘No man or group has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others.
Men have the right to use force only in self-defense
and only against those who initiate its use.’
-Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
We keep on worrying about trivial issues in our lives, grumbling about small troubles, and complaining about our tragedies (which are not so tragic!). It is only when we look around and beyond us that we realize there is so much of real suffering and oppression in the world. Our problems are nothing compared to those who are victims of such acts as rapes, assaults, interrogation, abuse and oppression. Think! What can be the worse for a woman than being subjected to such a cruel and awful act, and that too in this modern and civilized world? Margaret Mitchell mentions in her novel, Gone With The Wind: “It is a very bad thing for a woman to face the worst that can happen to her, because after she has faced the worst she can’t ever really fear anything again. And it’s very bad for a woman not to be afraid of something.”
‘Man endures pain as an undeserved punishment;
Woman accepts it as a natural heritage.’
This fact cannot be neglected that women generally are silent takers of undeserved punishment or forced decisions. They don’t fight out the wrongs done to them, but rather accept them all as their fate and destiny. Where the issue of rape is concerned, women are suppressed and shocked to such an extent that they cannot think and behave properly. For some, it is the loss of the most and only precious thing they had, while for others it may be a loss of one of their many prided possessions. In some cases, the victims may be courageous enough to resolve to fight their battle but may later be subject to certain pressures. One of the most disappointing aspects of sex crimes is that many go unreported, the main reasons being the belief that it is a personal matter and that the victims fear revenge from the assailant. Hence, what is generally witnessed is that even if some rape victims resolve to fight their own cause, those momentary, private little resolutions die out and the compromise is always made…
Talking about the most advanced nation of the world, according to the US Department of Justice, every 2 minutes, somewhere, someone is sexually assaulted. 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. About 3% of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. About 44% of rape victims are minors. Approximately 66% of rape victims know their assailant. Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years. Risk peaks in the late teens: girls 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. And 61% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police. The statistics speak for themselves. So, this issue seems to be a global one.
What do men feel about such issues? Pity? Sympathy? Sadness? Shame? Anger? Maybe nothing or maybe all! Rapes have become so common nowadays, and because it is an act mainly committed by men, a woman cannot help but feel like blasting the entire male population or hating the entire men folk. And at that instance, she feels completely justified. But then we know that nothing can be or should be generalized. And when we consider the fact that men too are subject to rape, we realize that it is not just a question of gender, but of morality and character of people and society.
What is morality?
Judgment to distinguish right and wrong,
vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it,
dedication to that which is good,
integrity to stand by the good at any price.
Where do we find it?
– Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
The moral degradation of a society seems to be much more pronounced in the present age. It is evident from the innumerable social evils and crimes occurring all around us. People seem to have lost the distinction between right and wrong. And when this happens, the doom of any society is inevitable. In a sensitive issue such as rape, if not morality, then at least law should come to the rescue of the raped women. Morality is not enforceable anywhere but supposedly law is; though the legal system also offers no guarantee of consolation and justice.
In some countries, the course of the courts is so tedious,
and the expenses so high, that the remedy, justice,
is worse than the disease, injustice.
– Benjamin Franklin
Amnesty International had reported that few of the rapists had faced court and those who had been convicted, had received only light sentences. It has been seen that those responsible for violence against women, whether police, armed groups, or private individuals, have rarely been brought to justice. We assume that justice and compensation has been done after sentencing those rapists to death. Capital punishment is not the worst that can happen to them. Our judicial system should think beyond this and invoke such a terrible punishment for the rapists that it stands out as an example for all. A death sentence cannot compensate the loss of those helpless and dejected rape victims. This sin and crime is so grave that the rapists should be subject to extreme humiliation and torture, stoned to death or beheaded in public.
The fight against sexual assault and rape is a mighty one. Most of the victims do not trust the judiciary system or the support organizations enough to pursue their fight. Nations need to expand the infrastructure and facilities that will help in justice being done. Media has and can play an important part. Nowadays we have media coverage of the high profile rape cases as well as some of the ordinary ones. But the trends in the media coverage are to be noticed. First, the coverage and attention seems to be extensive, suggesting that rape is a serious, violent and widespread crime. Then, the media becomes sympathetic to victims and condemns those who tolerate such atrocities. But after sometime, the whole hue and cry dies down. Media can provide a decent coverage of such issues and try to persist upon the matter till it is resolved.
On the social front, a lot needs to be understood. The most important thing for the victims is to realize that it was not their fault! The family, relatives, friends and society at large have certain responsibilities and moral duties to perform. Just to listen and be there can help initially. The victims should be encouraged to seriously consider reporting the rape to concerned authorities. It is essential that the rape victims be provided a safe and tranquil environment. A lot of moral support ought to be given to such females besides the required medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and pregnancy. New or even existing social organizations can carry out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. Some institutions or organizations can be established for the victims to recuperate from the consequences of rape and be provided some psychological support. Healing from rape takes time. Many victims do not realize they need help until months or years later. It is even then advisable to report the crime.
On the preventive front, women need some security and protection that only the government can ensure, especially in the remote areas. It is important for parents to protect their children from the possibility of sexual abuse or rape. As such, the small kids are not aware of these things and hence a more serious concern. It seems a better idea to properly guide and educate them. Armed with information, children are vigilant and better able to sense the possibility of abuse. Teach your children about safe and unsafe touches, as well as what is appropriate physical affection. These things are very important in modern times.
We cannot avoid the reality. Any refusal to recognize reality in this case, or any other serious issue, leads to disastrous consequences. Our refusal to think cannot be excused. All said and done, nothing can be better than a moral and religious uplift of our society. This ought to make men respect the dignity and chastity of a woman the next time they cast a glance at her. I hope so…
You have not lived a perfect day,
even though you have earned your money,
unless you have done something for someone
who will never be able to repay you.