INTRODUCTION The above statement “I Never called it Rape”(1988) is title of a book written by American Feminist Robin Warshaw which was his first major publication on acquaintance rape, which better signifies the acquaintance rape culture. Many of us have come across several people who were assaulted, harassed or raped by their known ones, be it their friends, neighbours, relatives, cousins, doctors, colleagues, classmates, spouse and in current scenario parents also fall within this category which has really shook the conscience of the society.
Rape itself doesn’t destorys the body alone but also torns apart the soul of the victim and when it is done by the person whom the victim knows then it’s more traumatizing and that is when the term acquaintance rape emerges. Do you know, that rape is the fourth most common crime in India against women and as per the data of NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau) out of 33,356 rape cases 31,320 were the cases of acquaintance rape, which was 93.9% of the annually reported cases in India in 2018.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND The concept of acquaintance rape can be traced back in 1950s in the study done by American Police rape files (1958-1960), in which it was found that about half of the cases were alleged to have been committed by men who knew their victims.
The term acquaintance rape was first used in 1978 in print by feminist writer and activist Diana Russell. She conducted the study on the womens of San Francisco, were she noted that 35% of cases were of acquaintance rape and only 11% were the cases of stranger rape.
MAJOR REASONS BEHIND THE ACQUAINTANCE RAPE
Every act which turns into crime or violence must have certain reasons behind it’s conduct and blaming the victim is surely not one what we generally do as a society, especially if it is committed against the women; by blaming her dress, friend circle, late night working hours and so on. Some other reasons which we generally ignore are: (a) Blind Trust : It is always said not to trust anyone blindly and especially in 21st century not at all. Generally, we as a human being be it in any capacity trust our teachers, helpers, doctors, colleagues, friends, relatives, staff, tutors etc which may lead to certain crime. Being alert is only option available.
b) Reporting of acquaintance rape v. stranger rape : Reason behind this could be that accused thinks it’s easier to suppress the crime when the victim is known to him/her, by blackmailing and deterring. (c)Greed of money : Sometimes Parents and guardians handover their child for such acts to whom they know, for money.
(d) No stand taken by family members : Sometimes such acts continue to happen on regular basis even after being reported to the family members or the family members itself suppress the victim to not report such incidents to anyone which may harm their honour, respect and prestige in the society. Sometimes mother’s also backout when it comes to report the crime either due to fear or don’t want to go against the soul bread earner.
REALITY CHECK The most recent example of such incident can be traced from the
1) #MeeToo movement
on social media, prevalent in October 2017, which gave victim a platform to express their stories of being harrassed, raped and violence alleging their colleagues. Celebrities were the major participant blaming their co-stars, directors, producers and so on.
2) Four month old raped by Cousin: 18 February,2020:
This incident belongs to Lucknow where a 4 month old baby girl was raped by her cousin(30), during the wedding ceremony which the family was attending in Hardoi. Later when taken to hospital doctors declared her dead.
3) Another real incident which the country witnessed was from Coimbatore :
On 5th July, 2020: 7 year old girl was repeatedly raped by her grandfather (65), when she was left by her parents at his house before going to market for selling onions.
4)5th July, 2020, Tamil Nadu: Father arrested for raping and impregnating his minor daughter:
This matter came up when 15 year old minor felt pain in her stomach, when she went to her grandmother’s house, after checkup it was discovered that she was pregnant, when asked about the incident she told her grandmother that she was being raped by her father(40) several times at night under the influence of liquor.
MOST DEBATED INCIDENTS 1) Aruna Shanbaug Case: November, 1973
Aruna Shanbaug, a 26 year old nurse of Mumbai hospital was brutally raped and attacked by a ward attendant during her night shift. She was strangled with dog chain, which led cutting off of oxygen supply to her brain resulting in Coma. She was in Persistent Vegetative State for more than 40 years and finally died in 2015 leaving behind several debates over Euthanasia and Right to die with Dignity.
2) Priyadarshni Mattoo rape and murder case:
Priyadarshini(25), a law student of Delhi University was raped and found dead in her Delhi flat alleging his fellow law student, who was a son of Former Senior Police Officer. He was granted death penalty but later in October 2010, Supreme Court reversed it’s order and gave life imprisonment.
3) Kerala Nun Rape case: October 2018:
Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested in Kerala after a nun accuses him of raping her repeatedly over 2 years(2014-2016).
CONCLUSION Last year when I was surfing the net, I read a news from South India stating that, when the victim complained her mother about being raped by her uncle and father, her mother told her ”let them do whatever they want they are your family members not outsiders” which clearly shows that sometimes mother’s or any female member of the family too supports the crime instead of reporting it, which is totally not expected. I think blaming victim will never lead to a crimeless society rather blaming and strict punishment to accused and these kinds of family members surely will.
“It’s not always about teaching women how to behave, how to speak, how to sit, how to talk, what to wear, where to go, and when to go but teaching men too that how to respect women, her opinion and her dissent when she says ‘NO’ “.