Shame rapists, empower survivors

The long Diwali weekend was marred by reports of two ghastly rapes in Mumbai. On Saturday, a nine-year-old girl was raped in Wadala, while a 12-year-old was kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered in Govandi (West).

According to the second victim’s family members, the girl was mentally challenged. Reports state that a local NGO worker following the case said she was made to suffer brutally: cotton wool was found stuffed in her mouth and in her private parts.

It is shocking that rapes continue even after so many recent protests against such assaults and several campaigns against sexual crimes against women. It shows that rapists have no fear, or regard for law. It is time to battle this evil of evils on a much more aggressive footing.

The police need to step up monitoring in areas that have a history of sexual violence. The Shivaji Nagar swathe has seen a slew of rape cases in the past. Slum pockets, especially, should be strictly monitored. It is here that children and women are the most vulnerable. This, however, does not mean that there is no sexual violence in other parts of the city.

What we, as a society, ought to do is support the survivors and victims of this crime, not shame them. There have to be concerted efforts towards making them feel that there is an avenue for them to complain where they would not be blamed or subject to more humiliation if they speak up to the authorities.

It is also crucial that families of rapists do not stand up for their accused kin. The perpetrator and his shameless support system needs to be weakened, not encouraged. It is equally important to ensure that the wronged families are empowered, and can live a life of dignity, especially when they belong to lower economic strata. Access to counselling and rehabilitation play a big part in this.

Most importantly, mark out the areas red flag them, so to speak that are particularly notorious for this crime, and step up vigilance.

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