In 2011, the rape count in India was reported at a final estimate of 24,270 cases for the year. In 2012, this number drastically escalated, and India released the horrifying statistic that a woman is raped every 20 minutes.
As I made evident through my previous example of the gang rape of the young female student in December of 2012, the violence towards Indian women has escalated to a point where it has become unavoidable. This young woman’s attack caused the largest protest against sexual assault in India to date, and prompted the world to look at India through a suddenly stringent lens.
With such appalling statistics, my first question directed toward the role (or lack thereof) of the Indian government. What is India doing about this pressing issue? Is the reason why men won’t stop raping others’ mothers and sisters because there is inadequate punishment; they think they can get off scot-free? Or should the finger simply be pointed at the traditional, cultural theory that the ideal woman is a submissive one, and this ideal is being self-perpetuating with the men taking advantage of such tradition?
Both of my secondary sources discussed how the citizens and Indian government view rape. As written by Dr. P.B. Rathod and Ambaraya Gundappa from India’s university in Gulbarga, “Violence against women is not so much a question of sexuality as it is of political power, both patriarchal and other, ranging from domestic violence to the violence of state power, that often appropriate the existing patriarchal ideology to control women’s minds, bodies, and psyches.” As these scholars suggest, the root of the problem lies within the government and, more specifically, the manipulative government officials who are making the legal decisions.
Out of those 24,270 rape cases that were reported in 2011, only 26% of the rapists were convicted. So what happened to the other 74% of perpetrators?
While it seems that all agree there are severe government failings, some believe that the true origin of the issue stems from the traditionalism of the culture itself.
“Given the subordinate status of women, much of gender violence is considered normal and enjoys social sanction…From birth till death, women face many kinds of violence.” (India is one of the many countries in Southern Asia that is known to conduct sex-selective abortions on female fetuses).
Because I myself am not an Indian woman, I can only compare to what I have experienced first-hand: American culture. And what it is like to be a woman who has grown up in America.
Here are some questions I have that I will address, and attempt to answer, in my research paper:
How does the coverage of a rape case in the United States compare to the coverage of a rape case in India? In what light are each of the women portrayed, and more specifically, how does the choice of particular words depict the woman in each case?
What specific types of legal action are most commonly taken in terms of rape cases in India? How does that compare to those taken in the U.S.?
In terms of cultural beliefs, how is the role of a woman’s own sexuality “taught” in India versus the U.S.? How are women expected to “be women?”