The Country That Cried Wolf

We last talked about what rape was, and how the Indian laws looked at rape. Now let’s get into more details.

Rape of Minors

According to a survey by Human Rights Watch, more than 7,200 minors (1.6 in 100,000) are raped each year in India. Girls are trafficked into prostitution, conflating into a lifetime of suffering. If the victims do report the assaults, they are alleged to suffer mistreatment and humiliation from the police. According to a study, India ranked 7th worst when it came to sex trafficking and crime against minors.

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Estimates of unreported rapes

The one thing that remains constant in India, and around the world is unreported rapes, only because the victims fear retaliation and humiliation. Despite the number of victims coming out and reporting sexual assault increases, Indian parliamentarians state that the rape problem is the way it is due to a lack of cases being reported. According to an estimate from the year 2014, around 5-6% of cases are stated to the police. The estimate for unreported rapes in India varies widely, few states have tried to estimate or survey unreported cases. Since marital rape isn’t a criminal act in India, women who face sexual violence by their husbands were forty times the number of women who faced sexual violence by men they don’t know, according to an estimate. An estimated 11% of rape and sexual assault cases get reported worldwide, according to a UN study.

Let’s now look at a couple of cases that caused a huge uproar in India.rs-police-rape-5d0997bc-317b-4006-83bb-a72689cfcdb3

2012 Delhi Gang Rape

The 2012 Delhi gang rape case involved a rape and fatal assault on 16 December 2012 in South Delhi. A 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh Pandey, was beaten, gang-raped, and tortured in a private bus while she was travelling with her friend, Awindra Pratap Pandey. The six accused were present in the bus, one of them being the driver. They took turns raping the woman and beating her friend up. She was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment 11 days after the assault but died two days later.

The incident generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad. Public protests regarding the state and central governments failing to provide adequate security for women took place in New Delhi and other major cities throughout the country. Indian law doesn’t permit the press to publish a rape victim’s name, so Jyoti became Nirbhaya, which means ‘fearless’. Her situation symbolised a woman’s struggle to end the culture in India, the long-held practice of denial of the existence, or rape is the victim’s fault rather than the perpetrators. 

Shakti Mills Gang Rape

The 2013 Mumbai gang rape, or the Shakti Mills gang rape, is an incident where a 22-year-old photojournalist interning with a magazine in Mumbai, was gang-raped by five people, out of which one was a juvenile. On 22 August 2013, she and a male colleague visited the deserted Shakti Mills compound, near Mahalaxmi, South Mumbai for an assignment. The male colleague was then tied up with belts while the accused raped her. They also took pictures of the victim during the sexual act and used them to blackmail her with in case she reported the crime. An eighteen-year-old call centre employee later reported that she’d been gang-raped inside the mills complex on 31 July 2013.

2015 Kandhamal Gang Rape

A 71-year-old Syro-Malankara Catholic nun was gang-raped by eight men in March 2015. These men robbed a Catholic missionary school in Ranaghat, Nadia district, West Bengal. Suspects were recorded on CCTV cameras during the crimes, stealing, destroying the chapel, and the rape. The police were told that prior to the attack, the school had received death threats as well.

Delta Meghwal Rape

Delta Meghwal, a 17-year-old Dalit girl, was found dead at her college in Nokha, in Rajasthan, India. A student at the Jain Adarsh Teacher Training Institute for Girls, her body was found in the water tank. A FIR was filed by the victim’s parents stating she informed them about being raped by a teacher on 28th March. It is insinuated that the accused allegedly killed her after.

Kathua Rape Case

And now most recently, the rape of an eight-year-old girl named Asifa has shocked the country.  The Kathua rape took place in Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018. Eight-year-old Asifa Bano was abducted, raped, and murdered by eight men. She had been missing for a week before her body was discovered by the villagers a kilometre away from the village. A case was filed, and the accused were arrested and tried in a court on 16th April 2018. She was outside her house, when one of the accused, a 19-year-old called her into the forest on the pretence of looking for a missing horse. She was then dragged to a nearby village, kept in a Hindu temple; drugged and raped for three days straight. After which, she was strangled and hit with a rock for good measure. But despite all this, one of the accused wanted more, he stopped the killer, just so he could rape the victim one last time. This incident became national news when charges were filed against eight men. Many protests took place supporting the accused, during one of which, two ministers from the ruling party attended, having later resigned. This whole incident; the rape and murder, as well as the support for the accused, sparked nationwide outrage. 

But who are the accused?

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The first is the teen who called her into the forest. He had often seen her grazing the horses outside her house. He initially claimed to be 15, but medical tests confirmed he wasn’t underage. His DNA matched the hair found on the girl’s body, and the police said he’s confessed. The second accused is a man named Sanji Ram, a former government official, and the teen’s uncle who allegedly planned the crime and even kept aside a huge amount of money for bribes. He was arrested shortly after the teen’s confession, forensic tests and based on the interrogation of various suspects. The third victim is Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria, the man who wanted to rape the girl one more time before she was killed. Named in the teen’s statement, he was also found to be at the place where she locked in due to call data records. The fourth accused is a part of the Police forces as well. Special Police Officer Surinder Kumar was seen by witnesses at the crime scene, alongside call data records proving his presence. Parvesh Kumar is the fifth accused and a friend of the teen. He repeatedly raped Asifa. Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jagnotra was arrested after forensic tests. He travelled to Kathua from Meerut, where he was pursuing his education, after a call from the teen saying he could satisfy his lust, making him the sixth accused. Two more accused are sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj, who knew of the crime but tried their absolute best to cover it up for a huge bribe. The charge sheet states that they didn’t collect vital evidence and washed the girl’s dress to help the accused.

Asifa Bano’s death is celebrated by men like the accused and their supporters, but what was her crime? That she belonged to the Bakarwal Muslim nomadic community? She was mercilessly abducted, drugged, and raped by eight men for this? A carefully laid out plan to drive the Bakarwal Muslim nomadic community out of there. This incident took an even uglier turn when her parents were being threatened, and so did the lawyer fighting her battle.

Because sex is a taboo in India, talking about rape is hard. But talking about it will help, and if you’re scared then follow these links below and get the help you need. Bringing awareness to rape is the only way it might stop.

Here are a couple of links that might help:

Rape and Sexual Assault

Fighting Rape

The Country That Cried Wolf is part two of a three-part series. Check out Part One India’s Chaotic Relationship With Rape. Stay tuned for the final part, out soon. 

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