by Zafar Bangash (Editor's Desk, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 11, Safar, 1434)
The December 16 gang-rape by six men and the subsequent death of a 23-year-old student has once again put the spotlight on this serious crime in India. Each year some 24,000 women are raped—a figure considered grossly under-reported because of the stigma attached with it—the issue has aroused the general public.
Last month, the Indian capital, Delhi, was en-gulfed in protests over the gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus. The shameful crime was perpetrated on December 16 when a female student and her friend boarded a bus at 9pm. Six men gang-raped the girl and threw both of them off at a desolate location. The student died of her injuries on December 28.
Angry protests erupted and the participants tried to storm the president’s office but were beaten back by the police who were using sticks and water cannons. What made this case stand out is that the victim, despite ending up in a hospital in critical condition, decided uncharacteristically to speak out.
Rape is not only a crime against the body but also against the psyche and indeed the honor of the person.
Rape is not only a crime against the body but also against the psyche and indeed the honor of the person. In traditional societies like India it carries great stigma and therefore, many victims suffer in silence. It is so pervasive in India that hundreds of aspirants to political office with sexual assault or rape charges against them are running on leading parties’ tickets.
India’s rape statistics, while nowhere near as horrendous as the US, are still shockingly high. India’s Home Ministry reported 23,582 registered rape cases in 2011.
India’s rape statistics, while nowhere near as horrendous as the US, are still shockingly high. India’s Home Ministry reported 23,582 registered rape cases in 2011. This is clearly not the real figure since many victims do not report to the police who are unhelpful and often accuse the victims of provoking the crime.
In 2011, there were 564 rape cases in Delhi alone; in 2012, the figure increased to 661.