The moment this topic was given to me, I tried to think of a sympathetic viewpoint for the culprit assuming that rapists have a bitter childhood and do not realize the gravity of their crime. I tried my level best to empathize with them presuming they suffer from a traumatic mental condition that culminates in the form of rape. But I couldn’t justify myself. Nor could the statistics.
Not all rapists are mentally ill. And not all of them have a painful childhood buried underneath the piles of myriad episodes of sexual abuse that they themselves had undergone. Even if they do, they cannot and should not be pardoned for such a heinous crime as rape. Rape is defined as a form of assault where one individual forces another to have sexual intercourse against that person’s will. Most experts believe the primary cause of rape is an aggressive desire to dominate the victim rather than an attempt to achieve sexual fulfillment. They consider rape an act of violence rather than principally a sexual encounter. Research states that some men do not ejaculate during rape. This proves that whatever is driving this section of men to rape is more than the sexual drive. In one of the interview of the rapists, they say that, “We rape women who need to be disciplined. They do not want to talk to most people. They think they know better than most of us”.
On an average, a woman is raped every hour in the country. Only one in 70 cases gets reported, a dazing and damnatory statistic. Only 20 % of those reported result in convictions for the rape accused. If I include sexual assault since it was anyway an attempted rape, the statistics would become more abominable.
A study revealed that child sexual abuse in India begins as early as five, ratchets up dramatically during pre-pubescence and peaks at 12 to 16 years. Some 21 percent of respondents acknowledged experiencing severe sexual abuse like sodomy, fondling or exposure to pornographic material, etc. If rape and sexual abuse are indeed so rampant, the logical conclusion should be that every second man you come across can be assumed to be mentally ill. Or that an average sane man is quite capable of committing rape.
Serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy who was accused of killing many women after raping them confessed this a day before his execution, “I grew up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, and one of five brothers and sisters. A home where we, as children, were the focus of my parents’ lives, where we regularly attended church; two Christian parents who did not drink, they did not smoke, there was no gambling, there was no physical abuse, or fighting in the home.” So he grew up without any sexual, physical or emotional abuse. The culprit in his case was watching violent pornographic movies since an early age. He got fascinated with the idea of sexually overpowering a woman. “The most damaging kinds of pornography are those that involve violence, sexual violence, because the wedding of those two forces, as I know only too well, brings about behavior that is just too terrible to describe.”, he confesses. Ted Bundy was sentenced to death for 28 murders of women and young girls. He was executed on January 24, 1989, by electrocution in Starke Prison, Florida, U.S.A
We cannot attribute the cause of rape to just one explanation. And its definitely not just sexual gratification. First type is anger rape. The aim of this rapist is to humiliate and bruise his victim; he expresses his contempt for his victim through physical violence and profane language. For these rapists, sex is a weapon to tarnish and degrade the victim.
The second type has a thin line of difference- it is the power rape. For these rapists, sexuality becomes a way to compensate for their underlying feelings of inadequacy and feeds their issues of control, strength, authority and capability.
Another type is the ‘sadistic rape’ where excitement is associated with the inflicting of pain upon his victim. The offender finds the intentional maltreatment of his victim intensely gratifying and takes pleasure in the victim’s torment, anguish, distress, helplessness, and suffering. This rapist is intensely tempted by the idea of sadomasochism form of sex.
In a nutshell, a man is capable of raping when he ceases to see the woman as a human being and rather as an object of desire. She is just a body for him who will quench the thirst of his ego or sexual fulfillment. Ted Bundy’s parents probably forgot to teach him that a woman too is a living being who deserves respect, who feels agony when hurt and ignominy when she is savagely ripped off her most treasured ornament- dignity. If every man can see a woman as a person first and not just a mere object, women will cease to be raped at every nook and corner of our country- sometimes at the tip of a knife or just the corner of an eye.
The writer is a Delhi based Correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student of Computer Engineering at the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology.
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