A brutal rape in the capital of India happens at least every single day. What is horrifying about this figure is not what it adds up to but what it hides. Thousands of rape victims who choose not to go to the police to protect themselves from victim-shaming that extends to their entire families, their future, their shot at leading a normal life ever again because nobody will let them.
And this starts at the police station, manned by the self-appointed guardians of morality who very recently proclaimed on hidden cameras how they think most rape victims are prostitutes (like that is ever a valid reason not to register a case) and how genuine rape victims should not and do not approach the police to avoid shame.
The trauma continues at the hands of a state-appointed doctor who ruthlessly conducts a ‘medical examination’ to confirm sexual violence all the same time dehumanizing the victim some more with words of humiliation and a touch that treats her like a defiled piece of flesh. All this only initiates the rape survivor/victim into a long-drawn process of “justice” which will include everything from a dissection of her love life, her wardrobe, her motives for holding a certain job or being out at a certain time, making a media and political spectacle of her entire life.
How will just a stronger law change all of this? A line in the law book brilliantly composed like several others. Terrific on paper but impotent in practice. This kind of rape numbers exist because the rapists can get away with it. Because they can. Because the stakes are much much higher for the victim. We do a stronger law that extends the scope of complicity to people within the justice system who have hindered the process and heightened the trauma.
In addition, an effective solution to this problem must include an alternative justice system just for sexual assault. An alternative FIR station, a special medical wing, a special fast-track court..all run by trained professionals who will offer a safe and sensitive haven for victim of sexual assault seeking justice. That’s when we will see the number of cases grow since seeking justice will not feeling like repeated emotional and mental rape. More rapists will be brought to court since the onus of rape will start fall on them.
Maybe that will make them think twice before they decide that it is OK to brutally gang rape and assault a medical student because she is out for a movie with a male friend.