Let’s Not Normalise Rape Culture based on Stereotypes

Rape is an evil truth of the society we live in. It’s a gruesome crime but what is more disdainful is the way it is understood, portrayed and reported.

Khushi Agarwal / Guest Author

Rape in no way can be termed as a ‘mistake’. It just trivializes rape – a crime which is utterly gruesome and an unlawful activity conducted with some vile intentions no matter what caused or drove the accused to commit the crime. Reporting this crime requires a lot of sensitivity and humanity. The rapidity with which rape cases have increased in the country ever since the Nirbhaya case, and the introduction of more stringent laws, is a matter of shame. (As per the National Crime Records Bureau, after the unfortunate 2012 gang rape, reported cases of rape in India has seen a massive jump by 26% in 2013 which was the highest in 15 years and was mainly seen across North India). With every passing hour there is a woman falling victim to the crime. The reasons as to why it happened may vary but it can never justify the after-effects it has on the victim physically, psychologically, emotionally, sociologically or any other aspect of the life left to live.  

Why is rape thriving?

The prevalence of extremely disgusting views and notions about the ‘causes’ behind rape contribute immensely to the thriving of this social malaise. A girl cannot be raped by someone she knows and has had a physical relation with or her husband, the girl cannot be raped if she and the rapists both were drunk and she did not hesitate or refuse for it, the girl actually sometimes means yes when she says no, they wish to be raped, they wore jeans and were out after dark, they were too friendly to boy, they were not really raped unless there was kind of violence or weapon involved are some among many that are used widely to defend the rape accused. It is often observed that a man’s increased sexual drive is what drives them to force themselves upon a woman and also to showcase their power and authority over them.

From victim’s clothing, way of speaking, to her attitude and many other irrelevant reasons are blamed for the crime, which of course are not true. It is because of the unawareness of the people about rape and its physical and psychological impact that causes and gives birth to silent acceptance of the situation rather than thinking about rape prevention. It seems that rape is now becoming a dominant negative trait of our contemporary culture.

Making laws more implementable

In several cases, particularly when the victim already knew the rapist or someone from the family was involved, it has been seen that the crime is not even reported to the police because of the mindset that it will cause more humiliation and will bring a bad name to the family and especially the victim. Even in law, several urgent reforms are required. While there are more stringent laws in place, after the Nirbhaya case, they still remain difficult to implement, as a result, a lot of rape cases in the country are not covered. A gruesome crime like rape should not be viewed through the prism of societal prestige and should be dealt with strongly and imminently.

Media reporting

How rape is being reported in media has significant impact on people’s psyche. While reporting a crime that is so violent and gruesome the minds and perspectives of the readers has to be kept in mind. One must remember that if it’s not reported in the right manner, then it can have a negative impact on today’s youth. Research findings suggest that specific factors such as victim blame, sex role expectations, misinformation, and communication/relationship skills contribute to an individual’s potential to subscribe to rape-supportive attitudes.

It has been observed that English media has been quite active in reporting rape cases, however their readership is limited to the urban educated class of the society. Regional media needs to do more sensitive and regular reporting on crime against women especially rape so that the message can reach far and wide and could actually result in behaviour change in near future.  

The media often tries to look at cases of rapes through the angle of religion, politics, caste, and not for the fact that it is just a heinous crime and needs to be taken seriously and not in a prejudiced manner.

Violating a women’s integrity and tearing her self-esteem and confidence to shreds is what an act of rape does. Viewing women as a property and an object of sexual activity is a long- rooted social malaise in our society, and needs to totally discarded. Victim blaming, sexual objectification, slut-shaming are going to help in perpetuating it further. Let’s not normalise rape culture due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.

(Author is a bachelor’s student at Amity University pursuing journalism)

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