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Three thousand rapes a day

, January 2, 2013, 1 Comments

As someone with half a century of public service,35 years in the saddle and 15 trotting near the horse,my guess is that in our great and glorious Republic,some cynicism intended, there are nearly 3,000 rapes every day.

This is how it stacks up.We have 653 Districts,at recent count. In every District of a population of nearly 2 million,there are a minimum of 5 sexual encounters without consent every day. This could be as much as 50 in a majority of Districts.I use capital D, because that is the kernel of our basic unit.

Nearly all the rapes are non consensual relations within the family,essentially child abuse. A big,unreported segment is that of elders like fathers in law claiming privilege over daughters in law and similar dynamics within joint families.instances like the one on the Delhi bus are few,but many in remote parts of the country are unreported and will make the statistics quite horrendous.

Of course we need fast courts and a much better report and punishment system.This will take care of a lot of lumpen elements.To acknowledge that rape is more about power than about sex,though the Delhi incident was about drunken,young louts on a rampage,a huge new dimension opens up.

Commissioner, Police Mumbai is absolutely right when he says our educational institutions are at fault. Commodification of women in popular cinema is another trough in which potential swine feed. Drifting migrant labour with no family co-ordinates and urban frustration of almost every kind,is a huge cause. Cities like Mumbai with marked red light opportunities take up a huge amount of sexual slack and rage. This is not a pattern that our State Governments will aid and abet,yet the First World has woven it seamlessly into their systems.
The tragedy will be when all the solutions brought to Justice Verma are winnowed and put in place.Rapes will still be reported as domestic violence and murder thrives,though Capital Punishment exists on the books and imprisonment is quick at least to begin with. Remember the horrors of Prohibition? Will trying to stop forcible sexual intercourse be any more successful than keeping drink away from grasping hands? Until our society is just and equal between men and women,can we contain rape at all?
In advanced societies where much of what we aspire to is in place,Public Rape rarely exists.  It is hugely contained,as we must aspire for,but family rape and child abuse is still a global curse. While the best is nearly always the enemy of the good,we have to improve on present perceptions of public morality for better containment of private impulses. A corrupt state where politicians are themselves involved in rape,but get elected to power,breeds cynicism among the sexually disenfranchised.

Bribery by peon to Parliament encourages disrespect for law that seems to be preached but seldom practiced. Would our bus rapists have done the same in Canada or New Zealand? No need for an answer. In Singapore or Saudi they would be caned and so would desist, apart from living in a strong State  system. Anna Hazare got rid of drinking in his village by tying soaks to the lamppost and flogging them. Is this advisable for rapists? Not in 2013.

DNA mapping at birth for aberrant behavior smacks of fascism,but can be done for curative methods over a period of time.5 rapes a day in a District of nearly 2 million is still an alarming statistic.We know of the iceberg that is so large that the tip is visible only once in a while,when strangely,the weather gets extremely cloudy.






About author
S Shankar Menon, an IAS (retd.) officer and former Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Maharashtra (1995-97). ...more