Let's not give rapists the benefit of doubt

Post the gang rape of a journalist at Shakti Mills, it is the Asaram Bapu in the spotlight. Yet, even as these two high-profile incidents garner publicity, there have been a spate of complaints of sexual assault and molestation against women. A 30-year-old speech-impaired woman, being treated at a hospital in Pune, was raped inside the hospital lift by a ward boy on the night of August 29. Then, there was a case of a gang rape in Noida. A 17-year-old boy raped his college friend and a drunkard raped a five-year-old girl.

In a number of cases, including the Delhi gang rape case, we see female family members screaming about how their sons or brothers or husbands or whoever have been framed for some sinister reason. Mothers have pointed hysterically at their children being swayed by peer pressure or being wrongly led by friends who may have forced them to commit the crime. Even when the accused confesses or there is absolute evidence leaving not a shred of doubt about their role in the crime, women are heard shrieking about how they do not believe that this man could commit such a crime. It is shocking that they cannot even put themselves in the victim or survivors’ place. Would they disbelieve it if their daughter accused a man of a similar crime?

There have been cases where women have first accused men of rape and then retracted their allegations. It is important that women do not blindly support their men. As women, they should be the first to understand the courage it takes to speak out about rape, the toll it takes on one’s life and the demons a survivor has to live with.

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