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Reason Behind Sexual Abuse – A Criminologist’s Perspective

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These days, I am scared before switching on any news channel or even before going on any form of social media. Every now and then, we hear cases of child rape, child sexual abuse, or domestic violence cases against women. Any common man or woman would be scared to their wits the moment they hear about the details of any such case. For the sake of brevity, I do not want to repeat the same again.

Why is it that suddenly our media is reporting more and more cases of sexual abuse? What is the reason that the cases of sexual abuse are increasing in our country day by day? Is it because we have more media and they need more stories to sell and survive? Is it because people are more aware about these wrongs and have the courage to report these cases and raise their voice against it? Whatever may be the reason, one thing is for sure that the crime against women and children is increasing. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the real reason, our media and politicians seek the easiest way out i.e. victim shaming.

People who are sexual offenders are generally those who are frustrated with life. Rape is an offence that a person commits because they want to exert power. Rape is a crime that a person commits for the greed of power and satisfaction of ego. The accussed is only concerned about satisfying his ego and showing his power. So how are these rapist influenced? Is the media influencing them? Or just the mere existence of women?

Well, what goes in the mind of a rapist when they want to commit a rape is something that even professionals such as psychologist, cops and lawyers are trying to figure out, but here are a few points, which may act as a trigger in provoking them for example:

1. Revenge – I always remember when my ex-boss would tell me that if you are ever stuck in a situation, first try and run away to a crowded place. Just look at his face but never hit a man, it hurts his ego, which may provoke him to harm you.

2. Frustration – We know that many unemployed, as well as well-to-do people at good positions, were caught in cases of rape. It may be due to ignorance of their mental health that they go insane and commit a heinous crime like this.

3. Lack Of Sex Education – We do not give proper sex education to our children in school, which is a basic requirement. Many times, people get all wrong information and the desire to experiment increases, girls are taught to be docile and boys are encouraged to be aggressive in our society. We need to give proper sex education in schools and colleges and make children understand that sex is not about power or ego.

4. Media Exposure – When I talk about media exposure it is not the actresses wearing short dresses, but the cases of rape being continuously shown and analysed on news channels. Trust me, 90% of our media has lost out on the sensitivity. They have made rape cases as prime-time masala. It is important to inform the people about a crime, but don’t encourage stupid quotes by politicians (Chowmein causes rape, or her clothes provoked him, or she was a woman, that’s her fault). Instead, run shows on sex education, or talk to experts on how we can identify sexual predators, teach people to be empathetic and help other people. Our media just ends up in giving publicity to the accused and leaders who are not even remotely sensitive.

5. Family Background and Social Set-up –  You cannot change the society until you change the mindset of people. I recall reading the interview of a cab driver, who was asked about why cab drivers of a certain cab aggregator were charged with rape and sexual offences. He said that it is because the cab drivers usually came from a background wherein women were not even allowed to sit in front of men and when they came to the city and saw that women were ordering them, they could not handle it. That led to a major ego clash. I have worked with different NGOs for women, in a majority of cases, we saw that the men just abused women because it was a part of their culture. How your son will respect other women depends on how you respect the women from your family.

I guess, instead of relying on masala news served to us by the news channels and listening to insensitive leaders, we should work towards educating our children and understanding their mental health needs. Probably, that is the only way in which we can reduce rape.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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