100-year-old bedridden woman raped: have we learnt to live with rape now?

life | Tuesday, October 31st, 2017
Fleme Varkey
Highlights

Today, newspaper and digital news pages are filled with reports of women abuse, child sexual abuse, sexual assault on women and even babies. But still it does not prepare you to read a headline which states – 100-year-old woman raped!

Loathsome, horrible, barbarous - these words fall short to describe what occurred in a village in Meerut a day ago. A drunken youth barged into the house of a 100-year-old woman in his neighbourhood and decided to have his way with her. In his drunken stupor Ankit Punia acted barbarously and raped the helpless woman as she desperately tried to fend off his attack.

Her infirmity and old age left her powerless and it was only when her cries for help were heard by the neighbours did the rapist try to bolt. The neighbours caught him while he tried to squirm away protesting he was innocent and had done no crime. The woman died due to the trauma and violence she had undergone.
 

AGE NO PROTECTION FOR ELDERLY AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

Today, newspaper and digital news pages are filled with reports of women abuse, child sexual abuse, sexual assault on women and even babies. But still it does not prepare you to read a headline which states – 100-year-old woman raped!

Yes, now rape statistics in India can boast of having the unthinkable in their records. Women in India are not safe, that is an established fact but from 1-month old babies to 100-year-old women, none escape the hands of lecherous, lustful, sex-starved men is now a proven fact.

This came out because it was reported by the police but there are numerous cases in India where such incidents remain buried for fear of shame, ostracisation and humiliation. The stigma of being raped becomes too large a shadow to come out of- both for the survivor of the assault as well as their family.

AN UNDEREPORTED ISSUE

Cases like these are seldom reported. Despite the number of abuse cases recorded in NGO stats, there is  no proper national data on how many cases of sexual abuse have been reported in the country. If houses are unsafe then what about old age homes and infirmaries? According to data with the NCRB as recent as 2015, while 18000 cases of rape were reported in the 18-30 age bracket only 10-30 cases were reported in the above 60 age bracket. This goes to show not that the cases are low in this age bracket but that reportage of the same is dismally low.

WHY TARGET THE OLD?

Like Punia, there have been several other attackers who target vulnerable women and babies because they know their victims will never be able to retaliate. They find them to be easy prey.

Prison psychologists who have been studying and interviewing rapists mention that most are calculative and pre-plan their moves, often keeping track of their victims. They have also observed   rapists who confess to be having no reason motive at all and put it down to impulses or effects of alcohol or drugs.  A study done as long ago as 1991, states that while a low percentage had motive like revenge or anger for rape, more than half of the men interviewing doing it impulsively.

Ron Sanchez, a supervising Psychologist at the Utah State Prison, in an interview with PBS says: “They might see a stranded motorist on the side of the road and just seize the opportunity in an impulsive act. Many of them are much more calculated and planning.”

And to answer the question what goes on in the mind of such rapists, researchers caution that there is no single psychological formula that explains every rapist.

What matters in the end is that today’s headlines will repeat tomorrow till laws on rape and sexual abuse of women are modified and strictly implemented. He was drunk, she was infirm and bedridden, intoxication should not be allowed to be used as an excuse. 

There is no dearth of laws this country - Vishakha guidelines, 2013 Rape Law Amendments, Section 376, they are in plenty, yet why do the headlines scream RAPE, ASSAULT, every other day? There is definitely something lacking, maybe it is the lack of will, is it?

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