Rape is unlawful sexual activity, most often involving sexual intercourse, against the will of the victim through force or the threat of force or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent because of minor status, mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception. In many jurisdictions, the crime of rape has been subsumed under that of sexual assault. Rape was long considered to be caused by unbridled sexual desire, but it is now understood as a pathological assertion of power over a victim.
The legal definition of rape has changed substantially since the late 20th century. The traditional definition was narrow with respect to both gender and age; rape was an act of sexual intercourse by a man with a woman against her will. As rape is now understood, a rapist or a victim may be an adult of either gender or a child. Although rape can occur in same-sex intercourse, it is most often committed by a male against a female. There is also an increasing tendency to treat as rape an act of sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife against her will and to consider forced prostitution and sexual slavery as forms of rape.
The NCRB’s report reveals that a rape happens every 16 minutes in India. UP tops the list of crimes against women. India recorded an average of 87 rape cases daily in 2019 and overall 4,05,861 cases of crime against women during the year, a rise of over 7% from 2018, according to latest government data released on September 29, 2020. The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has released its 2019 ‘Crime in India’ report and it has thrown up some shocking facts and figures about the vulnerability of women in India.
The report released indicated how women in India are increasingly becoming unsafe. The latest case before us is the Hathras gang-rape and murder where a 19-year-old Dalit girl was brutally violated by four upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh. The girl, who was allegedly raped on September 14, died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Monday during treatment. NCRB data suggests that the overall crime against women is the highest (15.3%) in Uttar Pradesh among all states.
Recently, Kashmir witnessed two rape cases that were horrific and unbelievable in their bestiality. Tears start rolling down the majority of people in Kashmir when they come to know about that such heinous crimes are now being committed in their paradise. We recently learn of how the dignity of a girl from Kulgam district was ruined while the culprits made a video of her and circulated it on social media. Didn’t they think for a while that they too had women in their homes? They probably committed the crime because of a dysfunctional justice system. The horrifying rape and murder of a young girl in Kashmir in the last week of October is a grim reminder of the increasingly violent crimes against women in Kashmiri society. The unfortunate victim was kidnapped and gang-raped by two local youths two weeks earlier, and died after battling for survival in hospital.
When the central government led by the BJP announced the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, it said that this would lead to gender equality and the “emancipation” of women in the Muslim-majority region. But days later, a number of BJP politicians made sexist comments directed towards Kashmiri women. On August 10, Manohar Lal Khattar, chief minister of Haryana, was quoted as saying: “Some people are now saying that as Kashmir is open, brides will be brought from there.” The BJP’s Vikram Saini, a Member of Legislative Assembly, said: “Muslim party workers should rejoice in the new provisions. They can now marry the white-skinned women of Kashmir.” The misogyny spread online, with posts on social media in a similar vein. According to reports, “How to marry Kashmir women” was increasingly Googled after August 5. Nivedita Menon, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, called such statements “proclamations of conquest and plunder.”
If you want to end rape culture in Kashmir, you have to create pressure groups that will influence legislature and judiciary to give stern punishment to rapists, rather than shielding them. Mr Modi one tweeted that “India’s daughters will get justice”. His assurances, many believe, have begun to ring hollow. Lawmakers belonging to his party are supporting men accused of rape and no action is being taken against them even after widespread condemnation of their conduct.
—The writer is a law student at Central University of Kashmir. [email protected]