Every day, India wakes up to the news of a new sexual crime against women. The latest to join the list is ‘Badaun gang rape’ held at Katra village of Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh (UP), in which two teenage girls were raped and hanged from a tree. The case is under investigation and there are several claims made on why these girls were raped. Before heading to answer this question, there is a need to check the statistics of violence against women in India. According to the country’s National Crime Record Bureau, every 20 minutes a woman in India is getting raped. The other crimes against women also show a steep rise of 7.1 percent since 2010. Considering the fact that most cases of sexual assaults in India go unreported, especially in rural India, the data is still striking.
What is wrong with the country? To answer this question, one has to trace down the path through the social context existing in the country. India is a patriarchal society where the men are considered superior to women. This gender inequality give rise to a belief that a woman is an object to act upon. The roots of this belief begin from the interiors of the households, where the husbands blame wives for any issues within the house. Even within the four walls of the house, woman lacks identity and she is forced to act according to her husband’s desire. Unfortunately, most of the women agree this to an extent, and many of them are ready to live life as silent bearers.
Naturally, the continuation of this practice is reflected in the society too. It blames woman for the crime she was subjected to, although it was performed by men. This apparently explains why people tried to blame the poor teenage girls of Badaun case for going out at night (although it was due to lack of toilets in their house), or why the victim of Delhi gang rape was blamed for her friendship with the guy who accompanied her that dreadful night. This even explains why the victim of a sexual case is often blamed for the kind of the dress she wore, or why a Minister said “Boys make mistakes”.
Combined with the social inequality and gender bias, the mindsets of men to display their power over a weaker object add violence to sexual assaults. In brutal attacks, which are high in gang rapes, men try to display their masculinity, not only over the women but also among themselves. Each member of the gang challenges the other to outshine him. The loudness of the painful scream of the victim is the parameter that decides the winner in such heinous crimes.
The situation worsens when the gang is bonded by factors like ‘hatred’ based on the religion or gender. In Badaun gang rape, the men who committed the crime belong to the same caste and they live in a social context that view the girls’ caste as lower. They come from a society where the crime against a lower caste is a commonly held affair.
Hence, the rapes in India are not limited to the borders of sexual crisis in the society. The crime should be viewed on a broader context of social inequality and patriarchy. Primarily, the corrective measures for rape should also address these issues to open safer doors for our women in longer run.