The Delhi Rape Horror and Underlying Perspectives (Part II) – Adfar Shah

(click here to read part I of this article)

On Gang rape Murder and the Saga of Public Discourses

Unfortunately much has been discussed on the debates on laws and hanging of the criminals, registration of FIR’s, fast action of police after the incident however very less is being practically thought about whether how to control rape on the spot, how to avoid, how to protect women from such a brutal assaults and victimization, everlasting trauma. Just help lines won’t suffice as offenders may snatch the victim’s mobile phone instantly but what comprehensive and sound mechanism to develop so that rape like vulnerability’s and horror is not created at all round the country. Instead of delving upon the post rape phenomenon we have to control, rape from happening of at all if we really believe in the dignity of our women. It must not happen at all because we have to move from the idea of security to dignity. Though much has been discussed in debates and newspaper columns on the remedial/preventive measures that could stop alarming rape cases/rates in the country but till date just emphasis on capital punishment and stringent laws has been laid but nothing much satisfying, objective and realistic has come to surface.

Whereas, the positive role of mass media is hailed by one and all to foster gender sensitization as seen in Damini case (Amanat).On the other hand, the role of cinema and women’s objectification and commodification has been highly criticized for representing woman as semi-naked dancing sensation that is being displayed as sex object surrounded by groups of vulgar men especially in the new craze i.e. item numbers. Some writers even demand the legalization of pornography without thinking of the fallouts even? Will pornography protect crime or further aggravate the situation of immorality and sexual aggression, which is debatable but a futile discourse.

Also many news channels kept repeatedly discussing about capital punishment to culprits, some talked of chemical castration and some argued that the rapists be bobbitised. Although the criminals deserve the worse of the worst punishment but one must keep in mind that even if the anti-rape law is amended now, it will not apply on these human faced beasts because they committed the horror before the amendment and amendments are hardly retrospective. Also there were discussions on the alcohol culture and drunken state of rapists who crossed limits of brutality while being drunk. Should alcohol be banned once and for all? Yes, most of the ferocious and incest rape incidents occur in drunken cases. The other question was that should we increase police force in the big cities, will that be of any use? No, we cannot afford to make every state a police state in India. Moreover, quantity or number is not important but aqequate training, administration, regulation, control and proper empowerment of the police is important. Also it is advisable that women police in collaboration with men police be assigned to handle the rape cases and FIR registration must be speedy in all cases.

Lastly, there is hardly a need for rethink on dress pattern in the public sphere as far as the rape is concerned. Yes, decent dress pattern can be a step towards valuing our age old rich ethos and morality.

The Projected Causes and Reality

Sociological inquiry proceeds less through introspection and speculation than through the observation, description, interpretation and analysis of facts says Andre Beteille, a renowned Indian sociologist. It is not correct to conclude that Rape represents the powerless women in the society or the patriarchal system or a means of control over women, for not every man is a rapist. Rape is also not because of the Women’s dependence on men but it is the social and cultural conditions that intensify or perpetuate rape. The causes and reasons for rape are deeply entrenched in our social structure. Rape is a community problem therefore needs community policing along with the all out effort to restore the women’s dignity.

Policing the rape must not be identifying the culprit and nabbing him down to hang, experiences suggest that even after stringent and harsh punishment heinous crimes are still continued. The question is to identify the rape mindset, explore the rape situations and rape atmosphere, which develop the tendency to rape and what prompts them to rape. Studying the cases of rape in a given period a finding some common connection factor about all the cases to be identified for a resolve.

What can be the viable solution?

  • Addressing poverty, social exclusion, illiteracy, delinquency and homelessness round the country
  • Tackling juvenile crime adequately and reducing Juvenile age from 18 to 14.
  • Making policing very active and vibrant by empowerment of police in itself
  • Role of secret information and intelligence agencies becomes a must. Every colony, society especially slum areas must be properly studied.
  • Every migrant worker working in cities must be registered properly.
  • Need for stringent rape legislation is imperative and there must be speedy resolution of cases pending in courts.
  • Active women police should handle rape cases in collaboration with the male police so that the formalities are expedited and sense of shame among victims is reduced.
  • Children in all schools of the country need education regarding the ill effects and repercussions of eve teasing, stalking, rape, etc, during early classes. Also moral education must be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
  • Child labour has to be checked strictly and culture of poverty has to be eradicated.
  •  Sense of feel secure psyche in all the big cities has to be restored and here the role of police, community and civil society and youth becomes central.
  • Plight of public transport has to be addressed and it has to be made safer, comfortable and secure at any point of time especially in big cities.
  • Activism among students has to be boosted so that to revive our rich traditional ethos based on moral values, sacred culture, religiousity and respect for women.
  • Free legal aid to rape victims and speedy registration of complaints in case of sexual offences against women.
  • Provision of a dignified life for the rape victims to protect suicides in these cases.
  • Treatment of rape as the most heinous crime and stringent punishment.
  • As suggested by many groups, details of rapists along with their whole bio-data has to be made public and put online so as to create a fear of public shame in such cases. Also if a government employees is found guilty in a rape case, he must be immediately fired, same must apply to private sector also.(as suggested by NDTV panel discussions)
  • Women have to avoid submissive nature and fight back, report fast and be extra cautious about their dignity.

Last Word

Rape is a social problem for it affects all humanity especially all women in different ways besides traumatizing the poor victims. Therefore, now is the time to raise voice against it not only for the post-rape stringent measures but the security question for women round the country to prevent the rape from happening at all. The Amanat Rape and murder tragedy has been reacted by majority of the citizens’ in different ways and role of media especially has been highly appreciating. I wish we as Indian masses had equally shown such a fighting sprit for justice for the victims of Kashmir’s Shopian double rape and murder case (2009, Asia & Neelofar).I wish the public would have been equally concerned and media had equally responded over and portrayed the human rights violations in India’s conflict zones like mass nameless graves in Kashmir, forced disappearances, Pandit and Sikh killings, Dardpora mass rapes, fake encounters in Kashmir, etc,. I wish the same public would have  protested outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan  in the same vigor and human heart like they protested  in Amanat’s case against the thousands of farmer suicides which were doom spelling (from 1995-2009 there were 240000 and 17368 suicides only in 2009). I wish media and public had been equally concerned about all the brutal crimes against humanity like ethnic massacres, resource grab, water pollution, etc,. I wish public and media would have equally campaigned against Bhopal gas tragedy, Kudankulam, POSCO, Neamgari, illegal mining in Goa, Jaitapur, Narmada, Adivasi alienation, etc., unfortunately public rage in India is short lived and masses readily develop fatigue for agitation and return back to their homes. Amanat has made us realize that we need institutions that can deliver and somewhere it is being observed that people have lost credibility in many of the institutions but that is not the solution and remedy. We have to honour institutions as institutions are always credible, actually it is the culture of negative politics and disbelief in everything, which impoverishes the holistic system. We must never let Amanat die, she has to live in our humane concern, friendly activism and fight for gender equality.



Adfar Rashid Shah is a Doctoral Scholar of Sociology at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Mail at

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