Since the brutal gang rape of an Indian student on a moving bus in Delhi, India has been dubbed the “rape capital” of the world. Every week hundreds of new rape cases are being reported and picked up on in the global media.
It fills me dread that the number of rape victims, for both men and women, around the world continues to increase. It makes me question the kind of world that we live in: is it safe? Where is our sense of humanity? Will things ever improve? What chance do future generations have with regards to their personal safety?
Rape is a particularly complex crime to analyse, partly because many sexual assaults are never reported. The surge in the number of rape cases being brought to light may daunt and deeply unsettle us, but it may also signify that victims of rape are brave enough to start coming forward and tell the authorities what has happened to them. Yet, this is countered by the abysmally low conviction rate. According to Rape Crisis, only 1,070 rapists are convicted. This sharply contrasts with the fact that 12,000 men and 85,000 women – on average – are raped in England and Wales every year.
From the Latin word rapere, which means “to snatch, to grab, to carry off.”
What fills me with even more dread, is the comments I see being left at the end of such articles. They range from “Indian men are savages” and “Indians are beasts” to the disgusting comment of “Indian men hold rape festivals.” And these comments aren’t just found in tabloids; they can be found in the comments section of almost every respectable newspaper. When I tried to report a particularly vicious one, it wasn’t deemed to be offensive enough.
I’m all for freedom of speech, but that does not mean that you abuse that right by spouting racist comments. In all honesty, reading hundreds of comments like that really upset me. As someone who was single-handedly raised by an Indian man, comes from a family which is predominantly male and deeply respectful to women, I know that not all Indian men are “savages” and “beasts.” In fact, I’m sure that many of us know that this isn’t true. What I don’t understand is why this thought even crosses the minds of so many people. Race and ethnicity shouldn’t even be a factor worth considering; rapists can be found in every single country and from any background.
In the UK, 1 in 20 women under the age of 60 have been raped or sexually assaulted during their lifetime – the equivalent of 800,000 victims.
There is no point in vilifying and condemning an entire group based on how a minority chooses to behave. It is crass, offensive and unintelligent. Yet, this filters into the real world. I have seen a woman openly insult my father – in a supermarket – after he stopped my grandma from picking up a heavy crate of water bottles by saying: “We know how your sort treat women!” in front of her. We see this time and time again with different ethnic groups who are demonised due to the actions of a mindless few. And at the end of it all, I honestly don’t know how we can go about addressing this issue unless we all stand together, educate our sons and daughters and stop protecting rapists.