Rape – A social evil seeking legal solutions

hathras up rape

Women (idols) in India are worshipped, as they say, but the truth of Indian women is only known to herself. India has a sex ratio of 943 females/1000 males.[1] While the southern and northeastern states are better off, the cow belt (Hindi/Hindu heartland) has a disappointing population ratio. A lot to do would surely have roots in female infanticide, something which has not been in the public domain for a long time.

Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. On an average 88 cases are registered daily, something this country which constantly discourses women empowerment, worshipping the women in various forms (education/wealth/power etc) should be ashamed about. Rajasthan reported the highest number of rapes among Indian states. Other states in the Hindi heartland region, across North India, such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Chhattisgarh, also have the highest incidence of sexual violence against women.

A look at the National Crime Records Bureau[2] statistics published, Crime in India 2019, one can notice the heinousness of this crime, and also how this society is functions at multiple levels. One is to show a progressive outlook to world and social media and other which is behind closed doors.

Of the total reported rapes, in 94% cases, the offender is known to the victim. To further analyse the data, of the total 32033 cases of rapes (2019) across India, 2916 incidents the offender was a family member, 10938 cases the offender was Family Friends/ Neighbours / Employer or Other Known Persons and 16311 cases the offender was Friends/Online-Friends or Live in Partners on Pretext of Marriage/Separated Husband.

The age group analysis points another cruel nature of the offenders. 144 cases the victim was less than 6 years old, 428 cases the victim has been 6-12 yrs old, and 63 cases the victim has been 60+ yrs of age. The majority of victims are in the age group of 18-30 yrs.

All these are reported cases, and the data is as published by the government of India. This surely shall be the tip of the iceberg while the reality beyond our imagination. Reading between the data, one can surely decode the offender’s mindsets. Rape has rarely been done for sexual pleasure, it has always been a power equation where rape becomes a tool to dominate, to prove masculinity, to demean the victim/people associated with the victim in society, to ‘teach a lesson’, to show social/economic/power status etc.

Going ahead with reading the data, 7115 cases of dowry deaths, 150 acid attacks, 125298 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives, 88367 cases of Assault on Women with intent to outrage her modesty.

The 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder cases (Nirbhaya) led to a mass movement across the country, but while the movement was ongoing with TV debates and demand for justice, the rapes didn’t stop. 8 years later 4 of the convicts were hanged. The public consciousness, unaware of the legal proceedings and rights, demand hanging of the rapist as the only path to justice for the victims.

If hanging were to be made a norm, 94% of the offenders known to the victims, will be hanged when convicted? Majority of them are family members, neighbours etc. Many of my female friends over time have confessed that they were molested as a child by someone known to them, a close member of family/relative/friend etc. and most of the times, the child confessed to their mother who asked her to be quiet and not disclose this to anyone. What would be the form of justice then?

The law takes it course and time, society has to be reformed from within. Hanging of the rapist can never be the solution for a society where 94% rapes are an act by someone known, rapes of less than 6 yrs and 60+ yrs are reported.

Priyanka Bhotmange (17) along with her mother Surekha, were paraded naked throughout the village and then killed. Initial reports mentioned gang-rape while the CBI investigation concluded it was not rape. Why would 11 members of the village, (8 guilty, 3 acquitted) would parade mother-daughter duo throughout the village and not rape them? Caste, power, dominance, land, all played key roles in the crime.

The legal proceedings begin quite late, by then a lot has already happened. The media has had their trial on TV primetime shows, politicians have baked their cakes, victims are compensated by NGO’s and wellwishers, the lawyers have made their cases strong and weak depending on which side of caste and politics they stand. The police have understood their job of presenting ‘effective and correct’ evidences for the trial. And people are tired demanding justice for the victim, moved on to some other viral story. Justice remains a distance dream.

In the recent Hatras rape case (UP), the victim and the offenders are from the same village, obviously, they would be known to each other if not in totality but acquaintance for sure. It would also be likely that the offender may have participated or voiced the same public opinion when people were demanding justice for Nirbhaya. The offender possibly would have known that the rapist of Nirbhaya were jailed for long and later hanged. Yet they committed such a heinous crime, then there is more beyond the fear of death in the minds of the rapist.

It is this mindset that society has to reform. If we are serious over the rapes happening in this country, we need to address the social imbalances. Imbalances of gender and caste. The dominant need to accept that the weak/marginalised people are asserting their voice.


[1] http://www.dataforall.org/dashboard/censusinfoindia_pca/

[2] https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/CII%202019%20Volume%201.pdf

Vivek Sakpal is an independent writer and publisher.



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