Rape Statistics and our future

I had just arrived in United States when Connecticut elementary school shooting incident took place which left around 20 young children dead. Soon, the Gun control bogey started their campaign for Gun controls. Actually when such incidents happen, emotions are running high and people are less prone to using their rational faculties and would rather accept any arguments that enforce their current biases.

Delhi gangrape issue is now stretched pretty long and the government led by our incredible Dr. Manmohan Singh is just clueless as ever. But then many questions related to safety of women in country are raised and as the natural human tendency goes we want to find reasons for everything.

Safety of citizens is primary responsibility of the government. If there is anything that can be done for protecting our women without curbing anyone’s freedom then it must be done. But overall unless India becomes an anarchy, unless we get more worse governments in future and unless our law and order mechanism get destroyed even more in future I dont think we have any reason to worry or there is much that we can do.

Our culture has nothing to do with rapes. Indian culture is great, no doubt but it is just as great as any other culture that existed. It was never some utopian culture. When Yudhishtira lost everything to the Kauravas the first thing that they wanted to do was to dishonor Draupadi by disrobing her in front of the entire court. Because she was a princess her tale was told. Wonder how many maids in the house of Kauravas must have lost their honor to their kings ? We can only imagine. Indra impersonated Ahilya’s husband and had sex with her. Results ? She was punished by her husband and was turned into a stone. What was her fault ?

Sita had to leave Ram because a washerman castigated doubts on her character. Assuming that she was indeed dishonored by Ravana why should she be considered impure ? It was not her fault. Indian mythology which reflects evolution of our culture always looked at women as something that gets impure when other man touches her. Even the women of Sita and Ahilya’s character were not exception. Our culture blamed the women instead of the person who actually committed the crime.

So some people who argue that the increased rapes is because we have abandoned our culture is nonsensical. Our culture has not prevented our politicians from being corrupt, it cant prevent rapes either. But then is it causing these crimes ? The answer to that question also is No. As I said before the culture has nothing to do with it.

I think the increased rate of such crimes is merely a statistical phenomenon. Number of rapes will always be proportional to how many women step out of their house and for how long. This does not mean they should not step out, it only means our law enforcement agencies need to work harder than before.

Among the larger countries if we consider the number of rapes committed per 100,000 population:

United States : 27United Kingdom: 28
Germany: 9 
France: 15+
Australia: 77
India: 1.8
Sweden: 63

It might appear that India is much safer place for women than say United States. But remember that this statistics eventually comes from police files. In countries like US, women are more likely to report such crimes to police than in India. Thus this number gets inflated for developed nations for various other nations. Take example of Sweden. As per the statistics, you should not worry much about your daughter going to Mumbai than in Sweden.

The truth is opposite. Sweden is very pro-active in recording crime against women. For example when a woman says that she was raped by her boyfriend almost everyday for last 1 year, these get recorded as 300 separate instances against one single crime as it may happen in India.

Definition of what constitutes as rape is also different. Julian Assange for example was charged with rape because he did not use a condom. Such things probably don’t get counted in India.

The real increase in rape cases has nothing to do with our moral values or culture. It has nothing to do with what clothes women wear and what makeup they put on. It has nothing to do with our attitude towards women either. We should not worry much about the statistics. We should rather rationalize our legal and law enforcement system to reflect the changes in our society. The stats are going to increase much faster than we would expect.


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