Debunking myths about rape and rapists


Senior Member
Aug 13, 2009
Debunking myths about rape and rapists
Shobha John, TNN 6 December 2009, 12:31am IST

Every night I would cry and cry and sleep with a sheet over my head...he was 19, like a son to my parents...he touched me when I was nine...he looked at me devilishly...the physical pain was so much, I blacked out.” That's the heart-rending account of a young woman who was raped at nine.

But the definition of rape is often conveniently altered. When a convicted rapist was asked to define it, he said it was simply a group of men forcing themselves on a woman. “Between individuals, it is consensual sex,” he asserted. What if it was perpetrated on his daughter, he’s asked repeatedly. “Then, that is rape,” he replied sheepishly. It is this hypocrisy of Indian society towards rape victims that’s brought out in Rape Compounded, a documentary by filmmaker Lavlin Thadani. It took her four years to make it – the film was almost shelved as no victim was willing to speak up.

According to Thadani, her film debunks many myths. “It’s a fact that 99.9% of rapists feel no guilt,” she says. Rajat Mitra, director of Swanchetan Society, an NGO focusing on mental health, concurs. “Rape is a moment of high for the perpetrators, a macho act played like a recorder in their minds for the rest of their lives,” he says.

It’s also a fact that the victim doesn’t scream when the crime is committed, adds Mitra. “It’s so traumatic that she simply freezes,” he says. Another issue is that no rapist can be completely rehabilitated. When he comes out of jail, he’s a more refined criminal. Unlike the US where sexual offenders have to regularly report to the police and the community is made aware of them, India lacks proper records. “We need a national level database for them so that people are warned,” says Mitra.

What compounds matters for rape victims in India, unlike abroad, is the attitude of society itself. Every subsequent brush with it — be it the insensitive policeman who suggests the victim called the crime upon herself, a family which promptly disowns her or a judge who sniggers at the clothes she wore, makes the crime worse. A victim who was raped as a child remembers withdrawing from other kids. “I had larger issues than just the next new toy,” she says.

Most rapists, on the other hand, are sly and dishonest and justify their crime, says Mitra. One confessed that he abducted a girl and got her home. While his parents thought he had married her, he continued raping her for three months.

In the end, social activism is the best defense. Indian society also lays a lot of emphasis on respect to elders. But it’s more important to respect behaviour, says Mitra. “Under the guise of respecting elders, many sexual offences have taken place and girls have maintained a cloak of silence.”

So stand up and be counted.

Debunking myths about rape and rapists - View From Venus - Sunday TOI - Home - The Times of India

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