By Salony Satpathy:
“While a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, a rapist degrades and defiles the soul of a helpless female,” says Justice Arijit Pasayat, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Fear, darkness, depression, guilt-complex, suicidal-action –Â Rape is the beginning of a nightmare. It has been correctly stated that only the one who has gone through it can know how it feels. Not only does rape erode a woman internally by trespassing her private space, but it also leads to an everlasting social stigma and an unwanted title of “the victim.” Every time she steps out, eyes follow her, some with pity, some with scorn and some are just indifferent.
The situation, instead of improving, has worsened over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990 which increased to 16496 in 2000 and currently is greater than 21,000. This gives the number of rape cases reported per day to be around 60. Considering the several cases that go unreported due to India being a conservative nation, the actual figures are sure to leave us astounded. The reasons for this unstinted growth can be attributed to growing urbanization and migration to the cities for better opportunities, low security of young girls in work places, dwindling of social relationships, more freedom given to girls due to which they stay out till late and get into wrong company, seductive advertisements and easy access to vulgar pornography which stimulate and pollute the minds of young men, increasing presence of goons who think they can do anything in the world and get away with it.
Delhi accounts for 25% of rape cases in India, which is the highest among Indian cities followed by Mumbai and Kolkata. According to a United Nations survey in 2010, 85% of the women in the capital feel unsafe and fear being sexually harassed. They also fear visiting public places like bus stops, streets, market places where there are maximum chances of eve teasing and assaults. In majority of the rape cases, the rapists are reported to be men in power, including policemen. In such situations, who is going to protect the nation against such crimes? The gang rape of Thanjam Manorama, a Manipuri woman by army personnel in 2004 stands as a saddening example in this case. It is to be noted that in most cases, no action is taken against the rapists and they use their power to get away with it. In 90% of the cases, the rapist is known to the victim. Owing to the delay in the delivery of justice, which is a common scene in India, the accused are successful in intimidating the victims and their families into silence.
We all know that prevention is always better than cure. Now is the time to implement it. It is important on the part of the woman to be aware of the prevention techniques to prevent herself against such heinous acts. Some methods for prevention are:
You can download these tips in a PDF format, here.
- A woman has to learn to “use her brains.” It is the best decisive tool. She should always be aware of where she is going, whom she is meeting and decide things accordingly. It is important that she is aware of the world around her.
- She should be cautious and should carry herself with confidence. It has been seen that women who walk erect and are confident are less likely to be troubled.
- Chances are high that in dingy, dark areas, she might be faced with a potential rapist. Best would be to travel in groups, and in case urgent – make sure you are carrying a pepper spray, blade or anything that could be your saviour. Keep talking on the phone, or act as if you are, so that the person who might attack you would be aware that you are not alone, there is someone with you on the phone who would know of the act. Also, get ready to run like there is no tomorrow, when faced with such a situation.
- Martial arts are a good way to tackle assailants but mastering them in a short period of time is an issue. In such a case, unarmed fighting, i.e. fighting without any kind of weapon except your body parts can be used. There are some programs designed for women by various training institutes in which a 20-24 hours course can teach her how to defend herself and render her assailant unconscious. Some examples of such institutes are Fitcomb in Delhi and Gurgaon and Academy of Combat Fitness in Mumbai. Several websites also provide vital tips and information regarding such methods. CD/DVD packs are also available to train oneself on such fighting techniques like the one by Frank Cucci.
- Use of pepper sprays (Oleoresin Capsicum aerosol sprays) is also helpful where spraying on the eyes of the thug temporarily blinds him and leads to breathing difficulties before he realizes what has hit him. Nowadays, compact spray bottles are available which are designed like lipsticks and some bottles also have a water test cartridge and an LED light which are sure to leave the attacker bewildered for some time. All this can be easily bought from the medical shop and the provision/electrical store close by.
- Noise making alarms, usually battery operated are also available that make a loud piercing sound when let off. Lung powered whistles, also called “rape whistles” fall under this category. Sometimes even shouting helps attract attention of others who may come to her rescue. But a woman has to use her common sense to decide when to use this weapon. In case she is in a secluded area where there is no possibility of receiving any help around, creating a noise may prove to have a worse effect for her.
- Even at home, it should be ensured that the main door is kept closed at all times unless required. Peepholes on the main door are a must and no stranger should be allowed into the house when a woman is alone. Doors should not be opened even through safety door chains as many cases where strangers have taken advantage of such situations have been reported.
- Special protective measures have to be taken when attending a party or when on a date as the number of date rapes and sexual assaults in social gatherings have been growing in leaps and bounds. A woman should be careful especially when she drinks in a party. She should not accept drinks from a stranger, never leave her drink unattended and as far as possible, she should get her drink directly from the bartender or the waiter, and do not get way too drunk to lose her senses. Date rape drugs can be mixed into drinks in the blink of an eye, making the woman a target for date rape. She should also make sure that she does not consume excessive alcohol which will cause her to lose her senses.
- Kits for testing date drugs are now available where a special paper strip, when dripped into a drink changes colour in the presence of certain drugs. Drink Safe Technologies in North America is an example of a company manufacturing such strips. Can be bought from a medical store.
- It is interesting to know that a revolutionary product called Femdefence is in the process of development as an ongoing project, started in 2003, to create a device that resembles a tampon and can be inserted into the user’s vagina. It has a sharp pin which has a penetrating effect on the perpetrator’s penis in the event of a rape. It will prove to be a very useful and practical device to protect women against rape.
In the end, I would like to mention a few points regarding the “victims”:
- It is important for them to report the cases of misconduct since unreported crimes increase the confidence and strength of the criminals, giving them an impetus to go on. Women should be self-confident and courageous to speak out the truth.
- The government should ensure some special assistance to the victims so that they will financially stable and this will help increase their confidence as well.
- To deliver justice quickly, special rape cells headed by police women and special fast track courts to try rape cases should be created.
- It has to be made clearer to the men that women are not to be regarded as commodities.
- Gender sensilisation programmes need to be institutionalized in schools and colleges across the country to make women aware about the mechanism to seek justice.
- Trauma centres and rehabilitation centres are needed for the victims to regain their emotional stability. It is mandatory to mention here that even the rapists are victims and need rehabilitation services since performance of such derogatory act signifies acute mental and psychological problems that need to be treated properly.
You can feel free to download the above tips in a PDF format by clicking here so that you may not have to come online to check it, and can mail it to others.
So, with all these tips at hand, are you ready to fight injustice? Drop in your comment in the comment box below.