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No excusing of rape pathologies

As the five-year-old Delhi girl recuperates from an unimaginably brutal rape in the national capital’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, questions being asked across the board is happens to be this – she was neither a young girl, nor a woman, but a mere child; so the usual round of excuses proffered up to somehow justify the all pervasive rape culture in India, such as clothes, time of day, drinking habits, partying transgressions, bad company, loose morals, or being sexually active, do not hold ground any longer. In effect, the cycle of violence continues unabated, forcing Delhi to once again take to the streets, in disgust and protest. What have we, in hindsight, really learnt from the 16 December gangrape incident of the 23-year-old paramedical student, when rapes go on as usual, in fact, like never before? India clearly has a ‘sexual violence problem’, and the sooner we recognise it, the better for our society and culture as a whole. It is certainly more entrenched than the usual slew of reasons thrown up by pundits and commentators, who cite the abysmally low numbers of women police officers at work, a figure, which is historically several notches lower than even other Asian countries. In New Delhi, merely seven per cent of police officers are women, with barely one female SHO, or station house officer. This is an intimidatingly small number for women victims of sexual assault, who are afraid to lodge FIRs and face the systemic violence all over again. In addition to the low police presence in our cities, and that too deployed mostly at the service of ensuring VVIP security, instead of tending to regular citizens, women, in general are wary of policemen and their roughshod, insensitive attitude towards rape victims in particular.

Much has water has flown already. We, as a society, have blamed provocative clothing as an invitation to rape. Furthermore, the acceptance of domestic violence as routine and normal occurrence has pushed out the limits of such brutality, thus breaking the dividing line between familial and external threat. From an appalling lack of public safety to the whole-scale stigmatisation of rape victims, from mind-bogglingly low rate of rape convictions to the exclusion of marital rape within the ambit of Anti-rape bill, or Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, the reasons galore for the continuing and, in fact, ever-exploding menace of rape cultures. However, no reason is enough to comprehend the extent of pathology that drove the culprit to inflict such unfathomable ferocity on a mere child. We must learn to distinguish sexuality from such depravity, for there is no pleasure but a perverse sadism in acts as vicious as this incident. The more innocent and virginal the victim, the greater is the extent of atrocity unleashed on her. This must stop immediately. As a society, as a nation, we have shamed our very future by passing the buck and playing blame games. Unless we educate and sensitise every living soul in this country to appreciate bodily integrity of any person, be it woman, man, and child, we will be condemned to live in perpetual dark ages.
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