There is no perfect definition of rape in law. However, Akayesu Case of India sheds adequate light on this subject. It defines rape as” a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed under circumstance which is coercive.” But this definition can’t be considered complete as it doesn’t include the social stigmas that the rape victim faces after what law defines rape to occur.
International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda explicitly classify the physical rape as a crime against humanity. International laws have mentioned criteria for the offense to be rape. It is rape if force or threat of force is used if other vulnerable situations are created where the party is unable to refuse and if sex is done with minor even with a consent.
Other various researches are done, criteria for an offense to be rape are further explained but none of these explanations set criteria for an offense committed by society by further victimizing rape victims. Rape is an offense against humanity but the way society elaborates it compelling the victim to go to depression or commit suicide is more inhuman.
Laws are made to control rape as a crime. But laws aren’t able to address problems faced by rape victims in society after the case is solved in court.
Why society Victimizes rape victims?
Simply because rape victims are treated inhumanly by the society we can’t term every individual of the society criminal. It isn’t mal intention of individuals what is creating a problem rather it is sexual attitudes injected an individual through various institutions of society in eastern communities.
- Women’s Sexuality is labeled as an honor:
Women’s sexuality is always linked with the notion of honor. That is why Kautilya said she should be ever under the protection of man. He in his ‘Chadakya Niti’ says that” Women should never be free. So long she is unmarried she has to remain under the protection of father or elder brother after her marriage she is to remain under the guardianship of her husband and when she becomes a widow she is to be under the control of her son. “
She is persuaded to protect her hymen as if it was the only thing determining her purity and her knowledge, ability, and purity of heart were all secondary requirements. Rituals like using clean white bedsheets in wedding nights and secret ceremony next morning to present it in front of groom’s family are practiced in Muslim communities in society.
A news article from Nyaka Patrika 2063/08/08 revealed a bitter secret. It stated how parents didn’t report that 5 years old daughter was raped just because they were afraid that the girl would be dishonored. The girl had to often face the rapist in public and had to greet him as an uncle as if nothing had ever happened.
We never know other similar incidents which were never reported in police and which were never known by any news reporter. Other similar incidents exist which were hidden forever like a dark secret, far from justice just because of fear of being dishonored as women’s sexuality is labeled as her honor. This notion of honor isn’t linked only with her but it is linked with her entire clan.
That is why women practiced Sati System in Nepalese history to maintain the purity of her sexuality and she was treated as the goddess before burning as she was maintaining the purity of entire clan. Queens like Padmawati performed Johar and burned themselves before any foreigner who won her land would defame entire clan by sexually abusing her. Dushahsan’s motive of defaming Pandavas by dishonoring Draupati later led to yuddha of Mahabharata.
In 1990s Santhal community of Jharkhanda India protested against upper caste Hindus and Muslims who captured their land. The attempt to reclaim their land is every time followed by a large-scale reprisal in which police plunder, burn and rape. They destroy every little bit of property belonging to the men to humiliate entire community and for them women came under the heading of property.
Thus, even today in many places women are raped to humiliate the community and this is considered as an act against the men. The women are taken as the means of revenge having traditionally been as belonging to the men.
- Sexual urge of men are almost acceptable:
The real man is defined by his ability to take women by force. This notion is being proven historically. Kings like Akabar of India had hundreds of queens in their harams. Some of them willingly married while others were looted from states won in war. With the annexation of states and their property (including women) charm of kings kept on increasing.
History shows that in Nepal also sexual urge of men was easily accepted. Ranas were to be provided with your daughters if they liked her. Neither her age nor her will nor did her marital status matter. Once she was pregnant either she was poisoned or sent away with a sum of money to do abortion and the chapter ended with another new offering.
Yes, sexual urge of men is almost acceptable in our society. Men are allowed to fulfill their sexual desire beyond the institution of marriage. Brothels existed and yet exist despite being regarded as immoral places. Many country’s law allows polygamy. Though, forbidden by law in Hindus it is still socially acceptable for a man to marry more than one wife.
Society regards women’s dress up as instigating agent for rape and tries to control over what she wears, where she goes and surroundings she lives in because sexual urge of men is almost acceptable.
Unrecorded victories of rapists:
Many rape cases are solved in the village by marrying off the girl to rapist in the consent of her parents as they fear that no one will marry her as her purity is lost.
Today level of awareness has increased among people. This is making an impact on the sexual attitude of people. Today, an educated person might not take hymen as identification of purity of girl. A boy might agree to marry raped girl and a girl might not take chastity as her pride.
But in a society, everyone does not have this changed mindset. Yet people influenced by old notions and having a conservative attitude regarding sexuality imprinted in their mind exists. Thus, it is high time for every single individual to delink women’s sexuality from the notion of ijjat (honor) and redefine the concept of real man. If this is done then the only victimization of the rape victim by society will come to an end.
BALLLB 2nd year