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  • Writer's pictureKaifi Abid

Roots of India's Rape Culture - Stop the War on Women

"While a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim,

a rapist degrades and defiles the soul of a helpless female."

- Justice Arjit Pasaya

Rape is one of the widespread and alleged crimes done against women in India. It is present in different ways and cuts across different social structures. As a result, there are also categories of rape for example, 'Zamindar Rape', 'Caste Rape', 'Class Rape', 'Police Rape', 'Army Rape', and 'Rape of Minors'. There are also rapes that have not yet been accepted by the Indian legal system, such as 'Marital Rape' and 'Rape of Sexual Partners'. The assortment of 'Custodial Rape' was a result of amendments made to the law on rape Law i.e., Section 375, Indian Penal Code, 1860 after the 1980 movement.

Patriarchy plays major interruptions in the growth and development of women. In today’s modern world patriarchy is the main obstacle for those women who are moving forward and achieving many things on their capability and talent. Problems for women’s in a society like gender discrimination, sexual assault, violence, and sexual objectification are created by patriarchy and misogyny; which led to cases like Nirbhaya case, Kathua Rape case, Hyderabad Gang rape case, Hathras case show us that the mindset of society towards women.

Roots of Rape Culture

The culture of rape is deep rooted in patriarchy & misogyny, media portraits, and victim blaming. Sexual violence is an important issue that affects women around the world. It occurs indoors, on college campuses, in times of conflict and in times of peace. Society has developed a definite attitude towards sexual harassment. It is inherent within the culture that women are seen as inferior and subordinate than men. Sexual violence has been managed by the media, inciting the society to actual assault, and obstructing action against it. Women frequently bear the responsibility and blame for their attack rather than their attacker. The consequences of sexual violence and rape culture is pure violations of human rights in which the dignity and equality of women are not considered. Rape culture is a purely human rights problem.

“The society or environment whose building social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or undervaluing sexual assault and abuse, that is termed as rape culture."

Why do rapes happen? Because it is the victim’s fault? A 40-year-old woman abducted, assaulted & gang-raped by two in TT Nagar in MP. Then in Tripura’s capital (Agartala) a 32 year old woman allegedly abducted by auto driver, gang raped by nine, dumped on road.

Female is a victim yet she is also the criminal, that is how she is projected. She had a drink, wore a short skirt or she went out at night, we had legislators MLA's and MP's saying this. Women's security is just an election debate. Those women who do smoking, drinking, and going pubs Indian society broadly seen as morally loose and Village Parishad blamed an increase in women going outside in public places and talking on phone increase the chances of incident of getting raped. Also, pop culture amplifies this message, where the blind objectification of women is coupled with the damaging ideals of masculinity. Orders of Khaap Panchayat and some Fatwas that not wearing jeans or tight clothes that against our culture and traditions, or order like not using mobiles phones because it’s provocative, and distracts and invite the male counterpart which leads to rape.

The NCRB data shows that the rate of crimes against women increase from 58.8% in 2018 to 62.4% in 2019. There were around 32,033 incidents of rape reported and the crime rate for rape was the highest in Rajasthan, in 2019 where 5,997 rapes were reported, and on average in every 15 min one women raped. Country's capital city Delhi is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world for women. Where societal attitudes are such where the victim is blamed, women are controlled, her consent and choice are negates, where law is superseded by traditions, and we teach young, that rape is consensual. These thinking and orders clearly shows how patriarchy and misogyny deep rooted is in society.

What are the Legal Provisions in System?

In 1860, rape was introduced as a crime in the Indian Penal Code for the first time. Before this, there were different and conflicting laws were prevalent throughout India. The enactment of the Charter Act, 1833 by the British Parliament was accompanied by the codification of Indian laws. Which was done by the first Law Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay.

Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes punishable for a man to have sex with a woman if it was done against his will or consent. The definition of rape includes sex when the consent, of girl or women been obtained by fear of death or injury to anyone whom she interested. When a man do sex with or without taking consent and will is also consider rape when she is under 18 years. There was an exception, however, is that intercourse or sexual activity by a man with his wife, a wife under 15, is not rape. Whoever commits the crime of rape, Section 376 carries a sentence ranging from seven years in jail to life imprisonment. Section 376D when a girl or women raped by one more person in group in acting of common intention then they committed gang rape for this they have to punish for rigorous imprisonment not less the 20yrs or life imprisonment for rest of life and with fine.

Independent Thought v. Union of India and Anr. [(2017) 10 SCC 800]

In this judgment, Supreme Court has criminalized the sexual intercourse with a minor wife whose age lies between 15 and 18 years. The Court opined that the Exception 2 in Section 375 is violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Indian Constitution which allows intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl who is below 18 and above 15 years on the ground of marriage. Such exception clause in Indian rape laws negates the very purpose of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, it violates the provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in context of the age of consent and some other international conventions to which India is a signatory. In this landmark verdict, Supreme Court has struck down Section 375, Exception 2 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Now, the law cannot protect a man who is engaged in sexual relations with his wife where she is between 15 and 18 years because irrespective of the status of a child whether married or not, she will always remain a child.

Is death penalty is the solution?

Why hanging rapists will not solve the issue of rape or even make it worse? In many cases the offenders are mostly known one or relative of the victims and not report the crime in guilt of “putting a known person to the death” the decision taken by the guardian.

The penalty may lead to more post rape-murder as leaving a survivor would pose a higher risk of being caught and sentenced to death. There are 88 rape cases a day in India and the conviction rate is below 30%. No quantifiable data for deterrence - you will never be able to know how many people didn't commit the crime because of the fear of capital punishment. There is no way to measure it. It is also wrong that there is no less harsh sentence does as in murder that penalty is given in rarest of rare case for rape also we can have similar provisions.

Surety of punishment should be greater than severity your punishment. We need to have surety and severity both. It is easier for the government to amend laws and bring harsher punishment but harder to do such things which will make actual difference we need to shift our outraged towards systematic solutions and addressing the root causes of rape culture that exist in the society.


Women are raped in India every day, the same land where women are worshipped as a goddess. When someone is raped it not only affect the person physically but emotionally and mentally too, it not only brakes their trust but also wrenched their soul. What should be done then? In place of demanding knee-jerk solutions from the government we should demand:

  • Gender sensitization.

  • Structured and well framed education and communication about rape and rape laws in the country.

  • Sensitization of police so victims feel comfortable to report the crime.

  • Better investigations so the conviction rate increases.

Right from her birth a girl is thought she is weak and is less strong than a boy with this the girl is always helpless has to always keep quiet and tolerate anything that happens to her. It’s really important to make people understand to not just respect your mom, sister, wife, daughter, friend, cousin but even the woman whom you see on the road or for the women working for you or even the woman you don’t even know. Stop Eve-teasing just to have fun or slide shame because these are the basic traits found in the rapist. Let’s make it an aim to live in a country where rapes are completely stopped not out of fear but out of awareness.

*The author of this post is Kaifi Abid a student at Career Point University.

Image Source: In These Times

Article Number: 2021/LKLR/05B01


The views expressed in this article belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Journal.

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