On Tuesday last week, yet another horrendous rape case hit the Indian news cycle. A group of NGO workers were at a nearby village in the Khunti district to raise awareness of human trafficking and forced migration through a street play. However, this lead to the inhumane gang-raping, filming and threatening of the 5 women participating on the trip, while the 4 men were beaten and locked in the car. Justification for this activity is derived through the village’s rejection of the government and any state figure’s authority. Through their presence in the village, they triggered a group of tribal men to assault them, declaring that the outsiders were to never return to the village.
“The survivors, in their statement, alleged that the accused threatened them not to enter the area without their permission to propagate the government’s agenda,” Ranchi DIG Amol V. Homkar, a highly regarded officer, reported on Thursday. “They do not believe in the state government. The individuals were attacked because they were outsiders,” reaffirmed another police spokesperson during another press release. Unfortunately, this draws attention to another instance of rape being utilized as a weapon. The tribal groups underlying motives within this case are evidently to dominate and threaten the outsiders in order to deter future outsiders from entering the village. However, this use of sexual assault as a manipulative tool is not an unusual occurrence in India, having an alarmingly high number of these cases reported daily.
This year two of the most reactive attacks that have occurred have been two horrendous cases of young girls (8 and 16) being raped, murdered and discarded. This has resulted in mass protests against the leadership’s lack of growth within rape policy or punishment. This is the largest rape related protest movement that has occurred since the 2012 university student gang rape case in Delhi. It is only now due to citizen pressure the authority lists the sexual assault dilemma on the National Agenda.
How does one protect women in a country full of men? India plays host to an increasing sex ratio imbalance with sex-selection abortions and the rejection of female-born children. Due to the increasing gender ratio gap, women are inherently positioned to face more violence and gender-oriented discrimination. The BBC India Correspondent, Soutik Biswas, also draws these conclusions, noting that in “the northern state of Haryana, which records the highest number of gang rapes in India, has the worst sex ratio in the country. In January alone, a 50-year-old man was held for mutilating a 10-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy allegedly raped a three-and-a-half-year-old girl, a 20-year-old married women was raped by two men, a 24-year-old man was held for kidnapping and abducting a student and a girl’s brutalized body was found in the fields.”
Consequently, females are continuously expressing fears for their safety. In 2016, there were 39,000 cases of rape reported, having a current rate of at least 100 reported daily. However, the Indian police and justice systems operate at excruciatingly slow rates, with the majority of attackers left uncaught. Furthermore, CBS News noted that if an assailant is accused, they are poorly charged, frequently with minimal repercussions.
The sexual assault issue in India is only going to continue growing if change is not made. In its current state, women are already living in fear as a victimized minority left unprotected. Without serious attention and legislative changes, the nation risks affecting the state’s growth, enabling its male dominant citizens to become a deviant and predator in nature. Rape culture inherently leads to the disempowerment of females, causing increasingly high levels of mental and physical health issues.