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Sunday, December 30, 2012

It is getting difficult every minute!

It used to get slightly worse every year. Then it became every month. Then weeks. Then days. Now it is several times every hour.

Rape exists in India and Pakistan (as well as many other countries). The one in Delhi, the disgusting Gang-Rape, is much worse. But let’s not forget that it has happened — in some form or the other: think of Bhanwari Devi or Mukhtaarañ Mai.

There are cries for killing the rapists. I am not for killing anyone. Not even the state can do that … but that’s another debate. As far as I know, it only answers the (necessary) malevolence that takes place at such a time. But it does not alter the situation.

Adding more laws does nothing. A news report I saw said there were 25000 ‘reported’ rapes in India last year. Only one really appeared and was dealt with, in courts. In Pakistan the number is quite high, too. In both countries very few report the cases so the news we hear is a small percentage of the population that has suffered such a crime.

Men in our countries (and in many places round the world) take their ‘superiority‘ for granted, though they have maneuvered it into place. The Police, almost always men, come from the same background as the rest of the people. They joke and laugh and belittle the culprits. Lawyers, mainly men, take part in the same approach and question the culprit about the dress she wore, why she was alone, why she was out at that time.

Some men are there to threaten the victim while she is coming into the court. There are lots of men who are in the court to hear the proceedings and support the rapist. In many cases they ‘hoot’ the prisoner. There are others who are there to laugh out loud until the judge stops them. But it is always too late for the victim. The judges, mainly men, also believe in the same things that most men do. However just they may be - they ask the same questions, ‘subdue’ the victim, force her into repeating the crime scene over and over, and in some cases, are even more awful in their remarks.

In a case in Karachi that I attended, a nurse was raped by a doctor in a hospital. The judge saw her report and asked her if she has had sex before this rape. She said she had. The judge said that she was “habituated to sex and could hardly appeal for rape here”. Her brother was approached by the police and some others and took a large amount of money and never came into the court again. He has a lovely house now and lives well. The doctor has disappeared after getting a bail. The nurse was challaaned and was in prison for a long time until some NGO helped her out.

In many cases it sometimes seems that the killing the victim - as it happens sometimes - was worth much more. After the killing, at least the victim doesn’t have to care!

The question, in my opinion, is not about stronger laws, death sentences, castration laws being enforced, public hangings, and more. It is essentially about changing our attitudes at home. Punishment takes place once … but does not alter the criminalities that take place, anyway, afterwards.

Rape - we must tell school children several times as they grow up - is a penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

We have to teach the boys that rape is a terrible crime. In schools we have to teach the children how awful this crime is. The problems it raises. The problems that persist for years, if not forever.

We have to teach the girls — and boys, too, now that homosexual rape is ‘recognised’ but hardly ever taken up as a case — how to respond in a society and how to get away from the space, if they can. If not, then what is the next thing to do. Report. Go to a support center. Go to a Doctor. Ask for a female doctor if you are a girl. Its not easy if you are a victim, but the public will support you if you do this. A few, at first, but almost all, at some point.

We must teach the journalists and the press that reporting rape cases does not include (unless the victims says so) the name or whereabouts of the victim. The pictures of mutilated bodies and images of the family crying are not what the majority of the public should be shown, either.

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