Sampa Kundu:

Rape is the worst form of crime against women. And, unfortunately, it carries a huge stigma for the victim. Not only is rehabilitation a problem, the society often looks at the victim from evil eyes.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has been trying to broaden the existing definition of rape. It has sent a draft of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to all states and Union Territories and invited opinion from the public on the proposed changes. They have set May 15 as the deadline before the government takes the bill to the Union Cabinet for clearance (India Today). In this bill, the government proposes sexual assault in any form- penetration by any part of a man’s body or any object into any part of the woman’s body- will be viewed as rape and the punishment can be extended to life imprisonment, and not will be less than seven years. Furthermore, the age at which a girl can have consensual sex will be increased to 18 years from the existing age of 16. It implies, any sexual activity with a girl below the age of 18, even with her consent, will be considered as a crime. A married man can not have sex with his wife, if she is not 18. Punishment for child abusers will not be less than 10 years in jail.

Often, it is believed that the woman herself is responsible for whatever happens to her. When the victim needs support from her family, neighbours and friends after such horrifying and upsetting incident, we close our doors and make her isolated. ‘You’ might not have such a thinking but believe there are a majority of people who never wish t be associated with someone who has been raped. This is the social stigma that is associated with rape.

Some studies have been organized to investigate the reasons behind rape. Some of the popular and classified reasons are as follows -

* The man wants to control the woman
* They can not control their anger/hostility
* They gain a self-worth by dominating/degrading another human-being
* A man must have sex to prove his masculinity
* A man has an obssessive compulsive disorder

It is really difficult to explain each and every rapist’s psychology- each rapist may have his own reasons. No cause can justify his act. It is the question of a person’s human right and self-esteem and no one can hurt that.

According to National Crime Record Bureau, India recorded 21, 467 rape cases in 2008; 20, 737 rape cases in 2007; 19, 384 cases in 2006 and 18,359 in 2005 (Thaindian News). The unrecorded cases are not mentioned and calculated here. So, one can imagine how the incidents of rape have been increasing day by day, year after year.

Laws and regulation can not eliminate this problem from the route of our society. The police and judiciary can punish a rapist- but the story does not end here. We should not treat the victim as a wrongdoer or an unfortunate person; rather we should help them to recover her own life. Here comes the role to be played by us. Media, NGOs, human rights organizations, Women’s Commissions have the greater responsibility to work together to create this awareness amongst the common people, but above all, it is us, you and me, who can change the way people think and push a better human race forward, because we are the change.

The fight against rape is not only a fight against the offender- it’s a battle against our social customs and superstition. Are you ready for this fight?

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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