The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has recorded an 873 per cent increase in rape cases during the last five decades. Police officials warn that these statistics are only set to rise further. Nearly three lakh rape cases have been reported up to 2015. Increasingly, rape cases are ending up in the murder of the victim.
This escalating graph of rape and murder is directly linked to the low conviction rate of rapists. Statistics collected by the NCRB has shown that the conviction rate for rape remains at an abysmal 25 per cent.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, chairperson of the Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses, works with juvenile delinquents who are in the habit of taking drugs. During his past two decades of interaction with juvenile delinquents, including boys who have committed rape and murder, has led him to the cynical conclusion that, “for boys who commit these crimes, there is little difference between living on the streets or spending time in a jail”.
The enacting of the 2013 law on rape which has mandated strict guidelines for reporting rapes, shorter trials, less onerous hurdle for victims making accusations and an insistence that female officers question the victims has not seen the rape graph decline.
On the contrary, Dr Rajesh believes that the new rape law now sees rapists preferring to murder their victim, which was not the case in the past. “Murdering the girl (who they raped) means they have done away with the key witness which they believe will help them in a law court ,” says Dr Rajesh.
Commenting on the increase in the incidence of rape, Dr Ashish Nandy points out, “If we look at the antecedents of rapists, we find that many of them were forced to leave their homes at a very young age. Young boys on the streets are invariably sexually assaulted by truck drivers and others and grow up holding a grudge against society. Making laws more strict will not remove the problem. Earlier, parenting was shared in an extended family. Now we are down to single parents and kids are being left to fend for themselves. But before we arrive at conclusions, a great deal of research needs to be done in this field.”
Although an evaluation of the new rape law is still to be done, Dr Rajesh believes, “In western countries, the state has created institutions where if parents are not taking care of a child, the state will step in. In India, traditionally, children have been nurtured by families and communities. Both have broken down. All forms of social control have disappeared. We have a society which is imploding in all directions.”
The result is there for all to see. We have an entire underclass of boys who are growing up with no educational and vocational skills. Many of them are on substance abuse and lead a life of crime to be able to afford these drugs. These boys grow up to be brutalised men who are failures, both economically and emotionally, and that is dangerous for society.
Dr Pulkit Sharma, a Delhi-based psychologist who has also worked with juveniles, believes,”Many of them have huge wrong perceptions about female sexuality. They believe that if a female is liberal, has a boyfriend and goes to parties then she is sexually available for anyone.”
Sharma points out , “Apart from the sexual pleasure, these boys and men also enjoy the illusion of power that rape creates for them. They feel that by sexually assaulting someone, they are being macho and powerful. They also have a poor impulse control, whenever they feel like doing something most of the times they jump into it without giving a thought to the consequences.”
Unrestricted access to pornography combined with a lack of proper sex education creates a dangerous cocktail. “Unrestricted porn coupled with a lack of proper sex of education is a potentially disastrous situation. First, it leads to a devaluation of women in the minds of these men. Males addicted to pornography start seeing women as ‘need satisfying objects’ and develop a sense of entitlement. They feel that it is a woman’s duty to cater to all their fantasies regardless of whether she likes it or not,” he says.
Sharma adds: “In the case of some boys who watch pornography, they start enjoying extreme, brutal and deviant sexual practices and they have a strong proclivity to carry these practices in their real sex lives.” Sloppy investigations by the police have also served to worsen the existing situation.