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India: Haryana’s Epidemic of Rape and Deep Patriarchy: A compilation of reports and commentary

17 October 2012

print version of this article print version - 18 Oct 2012

1. Women organisations hit out at Hooda government (Report in The Hindu)
2. The Haryana horrors (Rashme Sehgal)
3. Just a number (by Kalpana Sharma)
4. Don’t defend the indefensible (Namita Bhandare)
5. Nothing consensual about rape (Amit Baruah)
6. Fast Food Produces Heat Which Leads to Rapes: Khap
7. No excuses (Editorial, The Indian Express)


The Hindu
New Delhi, October 15, 2012

Women organisations hit out at Hooda government
Special Correspondent

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat leading the AIDWA rally against increasing rape cases in Haryana on Oct. 15, 2012. Five protesters were injured in a lathi-charge by the police later. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
The Hindu CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat leading the AIDWA rally against increasing rape cases in Haryana on Oct. 15, 2012. Five protesters were injured in a lathi-charge by the police later. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Hundreds of women, led by senior leaders of women’s organisations including CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, staged a protest march at Rohtak in Haryana on Monday against the failure of the State government to halt the continuing violence and rape of Dalit women and minors and also the reckless statements made by senior political leaders on issues related to women.

Taking serious exception to the unconstitutional solution by Khap panchayats to deal with rapes, the activists said silence of the government on Khap panchayats was a matter of serious concern.

The panchayats had said lowering of the marriage age could help in containing rapes.

Families of victims, students and rural women from various districts, along with members of more than 25 women’s organisations from across the country, gathered at the HUDA Complex where there was a public meeting. They then took out the march to meet District Collector Vikas. A statement on behalf of the organisations said they were not allowed to meet the Collector and police lathi-charged the protesters.

At the public meeting, Ms. Karat condemned the Hooda government for failing to first provide security to women and the police and administration for refusing to lodge FIRs or arrest the accused.

“She also took on the Khaps and INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala and wondered how they could even have suggested a solution of decreasing the age of marriage, which is against the law. Is legitimising rape within marriage a solution she asked? She also said that education and freedom from fear was the right of every girl and we all demand that women’s rights are not curtailed any more,” the statement said.

Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research, Sudha Sundararaman of AIDWA, Gargi of NFIW, Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, Jyotsna Chaterjee of Joint Women’s programme, Kavita Srivastava of PUCL and Leila Passah of YWCA joined in the condemnation of the government and pledged that till justice was delivered to the victims and safety ensured for women they would not give up the struggle.

Jagmati Sangwan, vice president of AIDWA, who has been spearheading the struggle in the State, placed a resolution against violence on women and it was passed unanimously.

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Deccan Chronicle, October 14, 2012

The Haryana horrors

by Rashme Sehgal

The land of the Mahabharatha continues to be the land of taboos for women, and the land of licence to do their worst for men. Patriarchy, misogyny, Khap Panchayats are all responsible for the attitudes that have made Haryana the ‘rape capital of India’. For what else explains the fact that the perpetrators of the 19 rapes in the last one month – their victims ranging from a six-year-old girl to a middle-aged widow – all boldly made videos of their own crimes and threatened to make them public if their victims complained, asks Rashme Sehgal.

At least in this case, statistics don’t lie. Pocket-sized Haryana has the dubious distinction of being the ‘rape capital of India’. Nineteen girls raped — many of them gang-raped — in the last one month. Forty nine men are reported to have been involved in committing these atrocities.

The horrors are staring us in the face. A 16-year-old Dalit girl set herself on fire and died in Jind last Saturday after having been gangraped. A 13-year-old girl was raped last Monday in Rohtak, home town of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

But those incidents, and the many before them, did not spur the official machinery to swing into action, because two days later, a 15-year-old mentally challenged Dalit girl was raped in the same town.

Each rape incident seems more sordid than the other. A 30-year-old married woman gangraped at gunpoint by three men just outside her home in Pillukhera township in Jind district; a 16-year-old girl gangraped by four young boys in Gohana town last Friday — the girl had gone to buy groceries and the shopkeeper told her to collect the stuff from a nearby godown, where the shopkeeper and three other boys raped her; a newly married 19-year- old was abducted and repeatedly raped for four consecutive days near Sonepat.

Rohtak, Hissar, Jind, Bhiwani, Yamunanagar, Panipat, Sonepat, Ambala, Karnal, Faridabad, Kaithal — young girls and women have been subjected to the horror in almost every district of Haryana in the last one month.

Worse, not only are girls being raped, but the rapists think nothing of videographing themselves in the act and threatening their victims that if they complained, they would circulate the videos to everyone in the village – secure in the knowledge that the humiliation will only be the victim’s, and no one, not the villagers, nor even the police, will lift a finger against the perpetrators. It’s as if Haryanvi society believes that it is men’s right to violate women.

One such warning was given to the 16-year-old Dalit schoolgirl in Dabra, and even when though she obeyed and did not disclose how she was kidnapped – blindfolded and gagged – and raped on September 9 as she was making her way to her grandmother’s house – the rapists sent photographs of the girl being subjected to their depravity, taken on mobile phones, to her father.

The distraught father committed suicide. Angry Dalit groups camped outside his house and swore that they would not allow the man to be cremated until action was taken against the rapists.

But what should one make of the response of the police and the administration to these crimes? The state’s top cop, DGP Ranjiv Singh Dalal, said rape cases were not on the rise, but in fact had come down from last year. “There are 80 cases fewer this year than in 2011”, Dalal told reporters.

And the state’s Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had this to say, after alleging that the rapes were a political conspiracy against his government: It’s only the prompt registration of FIRs by the state police that had resulted in his state being portrayed in a poor light.

“Our police have been told to register all complaints. This does not happen in other states.” Will the DGP’s statistics console and comfort the victims of rape? Or, should they console themselves with the Chief Minister’s statement that they are not the only victims of that horrific crime, that other women in other states, too, are being raped? Or, is it even true that the Haryana police promptly register FIRs in rape cases?

There are allegations that most rapes are acts of caste vengeance against Dalit women. “Dalits are getting more assertive and articulating their rights. This has resulted in a consolidation amongst the caste panchayats,” says Dr Prasad Srivella of the National Dalit Movement for Justice, who has been monitoring violence against Dalit women for the last two years.

Caste, apart from gender bias, is perhaps also why cases don’t get registered against perpetrators without pressure from civil society groups. Srivella says it may be time to take the police and government officials to task for their acts of omission and commission that thwart justice to rape victims.

“Not a single case has been registered against the police force for its failure to protect women. Following a series of RTIs done across the country, we have come to the conclusion that not a single case has been registered against any government official under Section 4 the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act”.

But Hisar Superintendent of Police B. Satheesh Balan says it’s not only Dalit women who are being targeted. “From the 38 cases registered in Hisar, six were false cases, while in 26 other cases the accused and the victim were from the same caste. In three cases, the accused were from a dominant caste”.

Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, cites the testimony of a rape accused to make the case that not all cases of rape are anti-Dalit. “We didn’t know the (victim’s) caste. If we had known she was a Dalit, we would not have touched her,” the accused told her.

Whether caste is a factor or not, gender certainly is, and that prejudice runs deep and society-wide. All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) vice president Jagmati Sangwan says the entire machinery of state is anti-women.

The situation is made worse by Haryana’s extremely skewed demographics — 830 girls to 1,000 boys, as per the 2011 Census. A farmer in Rohtak told this reporter, “Women here have become as rare as a grain of wheat in a famine. Men of marriageable age have no jobs and therefore cannot find brides”.

Khap panchayats, the traditional court of village elders that’s a relic from the dark ages, have only served to muddy the waters further. These male-dominated bodies believe the answer to rape is to lower the marriage age of girls to 16 from 18, a viewpoint supported by, among other politicians, former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, but not by any evidence of the efficacy of such a move.
Indeed, married women too have been raped in Haryana this month.

Activist Sujata Madhok believes it is not just the patriarchal nature of Haryanvi society that has upped the ante on social conflicts. There is too much money and a new materialism that a traditional agrarian society has not been able to come to terms with.

“There has been a huge influx of funds into the hands of some farmers who have become real estate agents. The result is a profligate, aspirational lifestyle, made worse by exposure to television and movies. The fact is, they lack the social resources to adjust to the changing society even as women are getting exposed to education”.

In any other country in the world, politicians would have been scrambling to put an end to the rape horror that seems to grip one city after another in India – Delhi, Kolkata come to mind – but here rape has quickly become a political issue.

When Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited Haryana in the wake of this month’s crimes, the party managers seemed more intent on steering her away from any public criticism of her own party’s chief minister and use the visit to score political points. They took her to Narwana area of Jind district. Of course, a Dalit minor had committed suicide there after being gangraped, but one suspects she was taken there because the area had a BJP legislator.

And as this story was being written

Fatehbad: A 13-year-old girl was raped in Panipat by a 60-year-old fruit-seller; a widow was raped in Ambala.

19 rapes in one month

The Gurgaon rape:

A six-year-old child was lured with chocolate and raped by three men in posh Gurgaon on Oct. 12.

Jind gangrape:

A teenaged Dalit girl in Jind died after she set herself on fire on the night of October 7 after she was allegedly gangraped.

Bhiwani rape:

A minor girl was reportedly raped in Bhiwani on October 1.

Sonepat gangrape:

A class 11 student was gangraped in Gohana near Sonepat by four men on September 27, in a busy market area.

Jind gangrape:

In the same week, three men barged into the home of a married woman and gangraped her while her daughter stood outside the house screaming in fright. The men made videos of the crime and threatened to make it public.

Hisar gangrape:

A 16-year-old Dalit girl was gangraped by eight upper caste men on September 9 in Dabra, Hisar. When police refused to file an FIR, her father committed suicide.

Woman, you must not

* Go to a pub:

In 2009 in Mangalore, Karnataka, Sri Ram Sene goons beat up a group of young women and men because Sene chief Pramod Mutalik said, “girls going to a pub is not acceptable. They violate traditional Indian values”. In July 2012, the Hindu Jagran Vedike attacked a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore, and beat up, stripped and molested five girls. They were saving Indian culture, of course.

* Use mobile phone:

In July 2012, the panchayat of Asara village in UP’s Baghpat district banned love marriages, prohibited girls from using mobile phones and even banned women less than 40 years old from going shopping. “Love marriages are a shame for society, especially for parents of the girl because it dents their respectability”, Panchayat member Sattar Ahmed explained.

* Wear jeans:

What’s common between Haryana’s Women and Child Department (WCD); leading colleges in Kanpur; Government College, Bhopal; Krishna Menon College, Mumbai; Anna University, Chennai; UP’s Shoram village?

They, among others, have all banned women/girls from wearing jeans, tight-fitting clothes and sleeveless tops because these are “indecent”, “provoke eve-teasing”, “violate Indian culture”, etc. This year, in Jharkhand, the rebel Jharkhand Mukti Sangh issued a ban on jeans and threatened acid attacks on girls found wearing them.

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Source: Ulti Khopdi

Just a number
THE OTHER HALF [column by Kalpana Sharma]

(Published in: The Hindu, Sunday Magazine, October 14, 2012)

She may have a mobile phone and satellite television, but if the impoverished low-caste woman seeks justice, she will draw a blank.

There is an epidemic of rape in the state of Haryana. Literally. Twelve instances of rape in the last month, 367 in the first six months of this year, 733 last year. And these are only the reported ones.

The shocking news of a 16-year-old Dalit girl in the state immolating herself after she was gang-raped is not just another statistic. (She was from Jind district, where the majority of these rapes have occurred in recent weeks.) It speaks to at least two depressing realities in this sordid tale. One, that if you are a poor woman who is raped, you cannot even imagine a life where there will be justice. Second, if you are a poor woman and a Dalit, then the chances of justice are even slimmer.

The list of the recent rape cases in Haryana makes depressing reading:

Nineteen-year-old newly-married girl abducted by four men in Gohana town near Sonipat and gang raped.

Thirteen-year-old girl raped by her neighbour in Rohtak.

Fifteen-year-old mentally challenged Dalit girl raped in Rohtak.

Thirty-year-old married backward caste woman gang raped inside her house by three men with guns.

Class XI teenage girl gang raped by four men in Gohana town.

Sixteen-year-old Dalit girl gang raped in Jind district

And so on.

Marriage at 16?

In some ways Haryana is a case apart. It has one of the lowest sex ratios in India – 833 women to every 1000 men. A decade back, when data about the extent of the declining sex ratio became known, an increase in sexual assault and violence on women was predicted. But for Haryanvi women, an additional factor is the continued dominance of caste-based khap panchayats, consisting exclusively of men, who lay down the law for everyone regardless of the laws of the land. These rules include special rules for women, how they should dress, behave and exercise their rights. Only the brave or foolhardy dare to question or defy the diktat of the khaps. Even if women obey khap laws, their lives are not free of violence as is evident from the increasing incidence of rape. Incidentally, the khap suggest that rapes will decrease if girls are married off at 16, even if the law of the land makes 18 the minimum age, because then they will not ‘stray’.

Against these realities, we have to worry about all women in Haryana. But Dalit women face a dual burden, that of caste and gender. According to a report in this paper (The Hindu, September 26, 2012), a study by the organisation Navsarjan of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, revealed that there were 379 cases of atrocities against Dalit women between 2004 and 2009. Of these, 76 were cases of rape or gang rape. By early 2011, only 101 cases (26.6 per cent) or under one third, had been decided.

Clearly, Haryana is not alone when it comes to atrocities against Dalits, including Dalit women. But what has to be addressed urgently is the complete lack of any belief that the criminal justice system can work for the poor and the lower castes. It is only this type of frustration, combined with the shame that society heaps on the victims of rape instead of turning its wrath on the perpetrators, that can force a 16-year-old to end her life in one instance, and the father of another teenager who was raped to end his.

Not friendly places

There is no point in speaking in statistics. Go to any rural area practically anywhere in India and ask women whether they have the courage to go on their own to a police station to report a rape or any other crime. Nine times out of ten they will tell you that they don’t consider police stations friendly places. And this is three decades after campaigns by women’s groups led to important changes in the rape law and in the rules governing the police in their dealings with women. The only women who have been able to put these changes to effective use are those who are organised, have the backing of a collective and know what it is to fight the system instead of just despairing of it.

These recent reports of crimes against women in Haryana are just one more reminder of the contradictory trends in a so-called modernising India. On the one hand, you have technology – like mobile phones or satellite television – that is giving people, including women, the freedom to communicate and to access information even if they are unlettered. On the other hand, there is little that has changed for millions of women in rural India who continue to be burdened by the realities of daily existence without adequate water, sanitation, power, access to health or education. In addition, they have to face the growing conservatism of entrenched anti-women beliefs. And the knowledge that when they are attacked, raped or even killed, they will end up as a crime statistic with no one really caring whether there is any justice.

sharma.kalpana at

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Hindustan Times

Don’t defend the indefensible
Namita Bhandare
October 12, 2012

When headlines shout rape, our ‘leaders’ will find solutions. Om Prakash Chautala’s remedy to the rape cases in Haryana — 18 in 30 days, and that’s just the reported figures — is to endorse the khap panchayat’s suggestion that parents marry off their daughters at a young age. Presumably, child marriage will end the surge in sexual crimes.

The idiocy of the khap argument, seconded by INLD leader Chautala is obvious. Chautala has tried to backtrack saying it was up to the government to accept it. Still, just to dispel any ambiguity let it be stated:

Married women get raped, married men can rape. In Kaithal a five-month pregnant woman was raped by two men. In Hisar four of the accused rapists are married.

Rape has little to do with sexual desire (presumably early marriages will ensure sex-on-demand for testosterone-overloaded men). It has more to do with an assertion of power.

With 830 girls for 1,000 boys, where will Haryana’s men find enough wives? Politicians might want to campaign against female foeticide instead of regressing into the medieval ages by supporting illegal khaps who rule what women should wear or whether they can go to markets unescorted.

Fifteen of the 18 reported rapes this month are of Dalit women. When Dalits are targeted for rape by upper caste men, it is to establish dominance and ‘humiliate’ a community. Married, single, widowed, doesn’t matter.

Early marriage puts girls at risk of early childbirth, the leading cause of death for girls in the age group 15-19 in developing countries, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Children are also more likely to experience domestic violence, including marital rape, finds HRW. Moreover, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 makes child marriage illegal.

Illogic is not the monopoly of any one party. Rising to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Hooda’s defence, Congress spokeswoman Renuka Chowdhury says the state is working “discreetly to reassure families that they will be safe and they will not have to worry about the social support they need. It is not a very simple black-and-white law and order issue only.”

Err, discreetly? Not a law-and-order issue? Social support?

Two rapes were reported on the day Sonia Gandhi visited a Dalit family whose daughter had killed herself after being raped in Jind.

This is a red flag issue. Governance, action and exemplary steps are called for. But Haryana’s CM has been so discreet that until his party boss came to Jind, he hadn’t bothered to meet a single rape survivor. Not to forget, his state party unit head was blaming the rapes on a ‘political conspiracy’ while another partyman, Dharamvir Goyat stated that ‘90% rapes are consensual’.

It’s a rare politician who will take on the khap panchayats. It’s a rarer politician who has made women’s issues, including crimes against women, a personal crusade.

Mamata Banerjee dismissed the reporting of rape cases as a media conspiracy. Sheila Dikshit advised women to be ‘less adventurous’. And who can forget UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s remarks that Mayawati should be raped in order to comprehend the plight of victims in her state?

A spate of rapes is not the occasion to score political brownie points. Was Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Jind an attempt to politicise the rapes as the BJP’s Balbir Punj, and even Chautala claim? It doesn’t matter. This is not about party politics. This is about asking: what are you doing to get a better deal for women? What are you doing to make the country safer for women? What are you doing to ensure dignity and right to life for untouchable women?

Instead of blaming women for crimes against them, maybe it’s time to start putting blame where it belongs.

Namita Bhandare is a Delhi-based writer. The views expressed by the author are personal

o o o


Dawn, 15 October 2012

Nothing consensual about rape
Amit Baruah

I live a short distance from khap land.

Khaps, a bit like jirgas, are tightly policed associations of sub-castes with strong headmen who often act beyond the pale of law.

I live in Gurgaon, the glitzy modern Indian city that has dusty villages and malls within it, shining buildings but very little piped water, BMWs and cows, a modern metro but no roads below. In short, it has every single contradiction that you can think up.

Gurgaon, touted as India’s Millennium City, is in the state of Haryana that borders Delhi. Haryana itself is home to Maruti-Suzuki, arguably one of India’s best known brands, and to a myriad number of other industries.

A short distance from the glitzy high-rise buildings of CyberCity, where a mind boggling number of MNCs operate, is the real Haryana.

It’s a state where the rule of law jostles with the law made by the khaps.

After a particularly shocking spate of rapes in recent days, one would have expected the State (where is it?), political parties and the rest of society to crack down hard on the culprits and, simultaneously, help create an environment where there is zero tolerance for such acts.

Instead, we witnessed the bizarre spectacle of a Congress party spokesman in Haryana saying that most of the rapes were actually consensual sex.

“Ninety per cent of rape cases are (a case of) consensual sex between the girl and boy … The girl gets into an affair with a boy and she goes with him without knowing that he is of criminal mindset,” Congress party leader Dharambir Goyat was quoted as telling reporters.

“It’s not the state government which is responsible for rapes. In fact in most of the cases it is consensual sex,” Goyat added.

A spokesman for Haryana’s Sarva Khap Jat Panchayat Sube Singh had come out with the suggestion that the marriage age for girls should be reduced in order to reduce the number of rapes in the state. Though, the group did not come to any conclusion on the issue at a meeting on October 13, the suggestion is very much in the public domain. This was backed by former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala.

So, what’s happening?

There’s a clear sense of denial here about the rape incidents. Blaming the victims comes easily to those who don’t want to recognise the problem for what it is.

In other parts of India, we’ve had ministers blaming girls for dressing provocatively and in Haryana a ruling Congress leader actually believes that rape might be a consensual act.

The khaps aren’t just debating a proposal to reduce the marriageable age for girls (currently 18); they also want to regulate the personal lives of young people.

There have been a number of cases in which these khaps have sanctioned the killing of a runaway couple for an inter-caste or an intra-caste marriage.

Non-government organisation Shakti Vahini pointed out in a study, “The public rhetoric and the diktats issued by them (khaps) have certainly led to … polarisation in the community. These groups, though not directly involved in the crime have provided the catalytic support needed for the growth of violent behaviour.”

As islands of modernity grow in Haryana, the khaps seem both unwilling and unable to contend with the issues of personal choice – in marriage, relationships and dress.

Conservative in the extreme, the control of women seems central to the thought processes of such entrenched groups in society.

In a September interview to the New York Times, the Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Huda wondered why he was being targeted on the issue of honour killings.

“That happens in Canada also. Why my state only, it’s a mindset. As far as honor killing, I don’t know why you call it honour killing. What you call honour killing is done by either a girl’s parents or a boy’s parents; the society has nothing to do with it. Nobody likes it. But such cases are not on the increase, I can say that. It is condemnable,” he said in the interview.

Politicians, including state functionaries, don’t want to tinker with the fabric of conservative societies. Often, they are imbued with the same outlook and are loath to take a stance that is out of sync with what tradition has sanctioned.

It’s time to change the politicians if mindsets have to change.

There’s nothing consensual about rape.



Fast Food Produces Heat Which Leads to Rapes: Khap
Haryana | Oct 15, 2012

As Haryana witnessed a spate in the number of rape incidents last month, another Khap leader, Jitender Chhattar, from Jind district supported the idea of lowering the age of marriage. According to media reports, he also blamed fast food and lack of culture.

“When we eat fast food, heat is produced in the body and this leads to faster production of sex hormones. There is no doubt about this. We should therefore consume cold things. And we should adopt Indian culture,” Chhattar said.

Khap leaders’ proposal of lowering age of marriage to curb these incidents had sparked outrage. Former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala too backed the idea of Khap Panchayts, citing Mughal era practice, though, he later denied it. another Congress leader from the state said that 90 per cent rape cases are a case of consensual sex.

Increasing number of rape cases in Haryana has prompted both centre and state government to take serious action.

Recently, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met family of a Dalit teenaged girl whom self immolated after being gang-raped. Sonia said those guilty of such heinous crimes should be severely punished. Haryana government has announced a slew of measures to curb such incidents including enhanced patrolling and anti-stalking helpline for women.

(With media inputs)

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Editorial, The Indian Express, Oct 17 2012

No excuses

Even as serial cases of rape drew unwelcome attention to Haryana, much of the public outcry was defensive, casting about for explanations, denying and trivialising the crime rather than assuring swift legal consequences. One khap panchayat suggested that girls should get married younger if they did not wish to invite rape, another one claimed that chow mein — yes, the greasy, spicy noodle — causes hormonal imbalances that lead men to rape. Of course, khap panchayats cannot be held to reason, and they have made no bones about their contempt for women. Their very existence derives from the need to patrol the borders of kin and community, which primarily involves controlling women’s bodies.

What is genuinely appalling is the response of legislators and ministers — Dharamvir Goyat, a Congress leader, claimed that that 90 per cent of rape cases were consensual. Congress MLA Sampat Singh attributed it to “lack of intellectual growth” and corroding family values. Many other ministers dismissed the violence altogether, claiming it was an attempt to malign the state’s Congress government. Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had her own aggrieved take on sexual violence — rape, she said, was a result of the way boys and girls are now freely mixing instead of being controlled by their parents. She blamed the media for “glorifying rape” and making her state look like the “soil of rape”, when it was not their culture at all. Statements like this from elected representatives should come with punishing consequences — they diminish rape, a calculated physical assault and psychic violation. As things stand, rape is reluctantly reported, difficult to investigate. With the peculiar social burden of sexual crime and the tardiness of legal processes, the usual lack of corroborating witnesses, and the chance that medical and forensic proof is often diluted or unavailable, our convictions for rape remain low. This despite the stunning dimensions of sexual violence in India (a rape is reported every half an hour, according to the home ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau).

Given this backdrop, the statements from Mamata Banerjee and other like-minded political leaders are difficult to excuse. Instead of being ready to snap to the service of victims who report rape at great cost to themselves, the highest levels of government are sending out the signal that they don’t take them seriously.


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