48. Rape in India

Author: Meghan Greene, First Year

Rape has been identified as one of the most violent crimes and essentially it connects all countries to each other because rape is not a crime driven by socioeconomics or ethnicity; anyone has the capability to overcome another sexually. Thousands of countries struggle with rape statistics, but one country in particular has received harsh criticism. India is under close inspection because over the past year there has been a 7.2% increase in reports of rape. Compared to other countries though, India may be unjustly receiving excessive disapproval.  Rape is a violent crime that demoralizes the victim and robs them of their decency; to overcome this crime India must initiate political reform and stand firm in these rulings.

The definition and outlook on rape in India are heavily reliant on cultural ideologies dating back hundreds of years. Prior to the Anti-Rape Bill of 2013, rape in India was defined as using force to participate in penovaginal intercourse through physical force, coercion, or abuse of power. This loosely defined version of rape leaves a lot of room for women to be taken advantage of and results in India being dubbed the fourth most dangerous country on earth for women. Many attribute the high number of rapes to the fact that India is a rape culture; or a culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage. This idea indicates to men that a woman’s body is meant to be conquered and enjoyed at their will implying that she is fundamentally an object. Essentially, men are given the power to dictate the purity of a woman and destroy that at their will if they feel she is trying to express too much independence (Graff, 2013). The amount of power given to men in India has created an unstable atmosphere for the female population, resulting in over 24,000 rapes yearly. The culture of India has taught men that women are objects which they can treat as the please in effect allowing an extraordinary number of rape cases to be reported, and no doubt many more that go unreported, annually.

The gruesome crime of the New Dehli Gang Rape captivated not only the Indian people but also brought international attention to the sexual exploitation of women in India. In 2012, Jyoti Singh was leaving the movies after seeing “The Life of Pi.”  The 23-year-old was so dedicated to her studies, that she worked at a call center from 7pm-4am to finance her education. Like your average young adult she was exploring her interests and evolving as a human being, so taking a break with her friend brought much needed respite from her otherwise stressful life. On the way back from the movies, Jyoti’s male friend was knocked unconscious with a metal rod, the same rod that would later pull Jyoti’s organs out of her body. After her friend was physically unable to protect her, the six men on the bus proceeded to take turns raping Jyoti and inserting a metal rod into her vagina. The six men then pushed the naked couple from the bus, and proceeded to drive away. After they were dumped on the side of the road it took over 45 minutes for local officials to be notified and arrive at the scene. For two weeks Jyoti fought valiantly for her life but overall the internal injuries she sustained were too traumatic and lead to her death (Avaas Team, 2013). The murder of Jyoti Singh was a true national travesty that ultimately grabbed the attention of the public and demanded reform for the women of India.

Following the murder of Jyoti Singh a media frenzy began that informed the people of the world of the occurrence and sparked an epic demand for reform within the borders of India. As a result of the cases media attention, the global community demanded justice for the family of the victim and the prioritization of the case. On the local and national level the people of India took to the streets and demanded that the men be given the death penalty, and finally they got their wish when four of the six perpetrators were sentenced to be hung. In addition, one of the culprits who was believed to be the leader of the rape died in his cell while the sixth rapist was a minor and was sentenced to three years in a reformatory institution. In addition to their prison sentences each rapist was ordered to pay 55,000 rupees (approximately $879) to the victim’s family (Burke, 2013). Jyoti’s family is completely saddened by their daughter’s death but they believe some good will come from the change ignited by her unfortunate demise.
Despite the efficiency and discipline of the India government following the New Delhi Gang Rape, horrific rapes are being carried out today and local governments continue to shamefully turn a blind eye. Over the summer of 2013 a 22-year-old photojournalist was captured then gang raped by a group of five men. These five men had made a habit of raping women out of sheer boredom, as displayed by a quote from one of the rapists, “You don’t know what a bastard I am. You’re not the first girl I’ve raped.” The unsettling part of this case is that all five men confessed to raping the photojournalist but the judge ruling over the case deemed each man not guilty (Barry, 2013). The lack of consistency within the judicial system in India has appalled many and raised serious questions over the validity of the Indian government.

After a year of appalling rapes finally gaining public attention, the Indian government has started an initiative to make the country a safer place for all women. In 2013, the Indian government passed the Anti Rape Bill, which amended the Penal Code and the Laws of Criminal Procedure and Evidence. One major highlight of the bill is the new definition of rape, which now includes not just penovaginal rape but also the insertion of an object or any other body part into a woman’s vagina, urethra or anus and includes the force of oral sex. To make rape a more serious crime the minimum sentence for various rape crimes were increased. For example, in gang rape cases the minimum jail time is now 20 years and the maximum is life (Mandhana, 2013). Local governments have also tried to improve the safety of women by installing rape help lines, street lights, and better surveillance cameras in dangerous areas. In addition, local governments have created women’s only buses, cabs, travel groups, and now even hotel floors (Gowen, 2013). By passing the Anti Rape Bill, India has taken a significant step towards pursuing the safety of its female population and the integrity of their privacy.

Despite the improvements made this year in India more action needs to be taken to completely prevent violent rape crimes in the future. One effective way to prevent rape is to educate the population about equality. The people of India need to realize that women are truly equal to men and are not objects to be conquered at free will. This could be achieved through informative news articles, workshops, and even news shows. Next, the women of India need to feel empowered to stick up for themselves and demand a safe way of living. Gaining independence from men would give the women more freedom to pursue innovative lifestyles and break the mold of a male dominated society. Lastly, the accusations of a raped woman need to be taken seriously, with the only blame being put on the rapist. When the time comes for the rapist to be punished, the government needs to follow through with the Anti Rape Bill and punish the guilty to the full extent of the law. Harsh punishments will prove that India is serious about stopping this violent crime and will not tolerate it happening within its borders. Rape is a crime that needs to be prevented in the future and by changing the mindsets of the Indian partial prevention could be a reality in the coming years.
The high number of outrageous rape cases in India has caused people to call it the “Rape Center of the World”; however upon further investigation that is far from the truth. A recent study found that India is ranked third in the world for reported rape cases, with 24,206 reports in 2011.However, the number one nation is the United States with over 83,425 rapes reported 2011. To put it into perspective, in India every twenty minutes a woman is raped, but in the United States a rape occurs on average every six minutes (“Two Women Raped…”). Compared to rape punishments in other countries India’s fall in the center of the spectrum; however, the United States is the most lax of the countries. The most severe punishments are within Saudi Arabia and North Korea where the rapist is executed. China on the other hand does execute occasionally but prefers to castrate the male so he can no longer reproduce. Relatively negligent in comparison is the United States, who on average sentences a rapist to 12 years in jail, where he/she on average only spends 5.4 years. So, on a global comparison India isn’t the true “Rape Center,” but in reality the super power of the West, the United States may be more accurately labeled as such (Rajpal, 2013). With the resilience India has shown over the past year it is obvious that they will shy away from being known for their rapes and will someday soon be remembered for the strides they took to protect women.

Rape is a heinous crime that has tainted the reputation of India; however, it has spurred the country into a movement of reform.  The Indian government has identified a problem within its boarders and is actively pursuing a solution of prevention. Globally, rape is a problem induced by men’s desire to rule and control, and without the evolution of equality rape will remain a mortal problem.


Works Cited
Gowen, Annie. "Asia & Pacific." Washington Post. N.p., 27 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.

Graff, E.J. "Purity Culture Is Rape Culture." The American Prospect. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.

Jason, Burke. "Delhi Gang-rape: Four Men Sentenced to Death." The Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Berry, Sally. "Is India the Rape Capital of the World?" MORE Magazine. N.p., 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 02 Nov. 2013.

Mandhana, Niharika. "What India’s New ‘Anti-Rape’ Bill Actually Says." India Ink What Indias New AntiRape Bill Actually Says Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Rajpal, Priyanka. "A Comparison of Punishments for Rape in India vs Other Countries." A Comparison of Punishments for Rape in India vs Other Countries. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Team, Avaas. "Here's Why Rape Happens Every 20 Minutes in India." Avaaz Daily Briefing. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

"Two Women Raped in India Every Hour." The Times Of India. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Wong, Curtis M. "World's Most Dangerous Countries For Women: Thomson Reuters Foundation Survey." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 16 June 2011. Web. 02 Nov. 2013.

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