The laws are there, but rape statistics keep climbing
In our society, where people blame women’s outfits for sexual harassment, one must ask: What exactly are the values our society holds dear?
These are the values, the set of principles, which guide our behaviour. They help us to decide between right and wrong. They determine our behaviour, attitude, and personality as people.
But the problem is that these values vary from person to person. Every person has a different set of values, a philosophy of life, which in turn are influenced by society, culture, and religion.
But is our morality on the decline? Or has what we deem to be moral changed completely? Why are the percentages of rape victims increasing day by day? Has society failed to teach us?
The first major problem is that the topic of sex is taboo. As a result, sex education and even the word “sex” are not easily accepted in our society.
But just because something is taboo it does not mean that there will be no interest in the subject, especially when we’re young adolescents.
In fact, our interest in the illicit, from the beginning of civilization, has always been greater. And, somehow, in the process, we have turned it into something ugly, and have marginalized women.
We blame the rape victim rather than the rapist. We blame the victim for her dress, attitude, and lifestyle. But if these were really to blame, how do we then explain the rapes of children? Surely, a child wasn’t “asking for it”?
Solving the right problem
In the Penal Code of 1860, with reference to Section 376 it is said: “Whoever commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine, unless the woman raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which case he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
However, punishments under Nari O Sishu Nirjaton Daman Ain, 2000, are tougher. With reference to Section 9 of this act, whoever commits rape against a woman or a child, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for life, and with the fine. If the victim dies as a result of the rape, the man shall then be punished with death or with life imprisonment, and also with a fine not exceeding Tk1 lakh.
Furthermore, the law also imposes punishment for attempted rape and failure to protect, if the rape takes place under police custody.
But despite having such laws in our state, unfortunately, incidences of rape continue to increase at an alarming rate.
With the proper implementation of the law lacking by law enforcement agencies, it is evident that it is our mindset that needs to improve before any sort of real change can be seen.
We have to reconsider our ethics and values, and see how we, as a society, have failed continuously to give women the respect they deserve.
Unless and until we do so, not only will the values we hold so dear be destroyed, but the backbone on which our society functions will cease to exist.
Without proper education and awareness, without learning how to show respect women, the problem will persist. And the number of heinous rapes and other acts of violence against women will continue to rise.
Kalyan Chakroborty is a freelance contributor.