Worrying string of rapes, brutality in Madhya Pradesh

Worrying string of rapes and brutality in Madhya Pradesh

Rape is not just about sex; it is about power and domination. It is about hatred and misogyny.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Credit: PTI File Photo

A string of cases of rape, involving shocking levels of brutality, have been reported from Madhya Pradesh in recent weeks. A 13-year-old girl was gang-raped multiple times by nine people in Umaria town. After raping her, truck drivers passed her on to other truck drivers, who also raped her. Shockingly, a trucker whose help she sought subsequently, raped her as well. In an incident in Khandwa district, another 13-year-old was raped and then strangled to death. Besides, in Sidhi district, a 45-year-old woman was gang-raped and then tortured grievously; her assailants inserted an iron rod into her private parts. Rape is always a brutalising crime. It is all the more disturbing when the victim is a child or when rods or chilli powder are inserted in the woman’s private parts. What makes the predator heap perversion, torture and humiliation on the woman after he has raped her? Rape is not just about sex; it is about power and domination. It is about hatred and misogyny. The growing number of incidents of rape where woman are subjected to gruesome perversion and torture underscores the rising misogyny in the country. According to the latest NCRB figures, Madhya Pradesh registered the highest number of rape cases in India in 2018; the state accounts for 16% of all rape cases in the country. Over half of all rape cases in Madhya Pradesh were of women below the age of 18; in 54 cases the victim was below the age of six. Rape is flourishing in Madhya Pradesh’s patriarchal culture.

The surge in rapes came amidst a fortnight-long public awareness drive on crimes against women that the Madhya Pradesh government launched across the state. The awareness drive is welcome as people need to be sensitised to the gravity of the crime and made aware of laws and programmes to prevent and tackle it. However, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has reportedly announced plans to ‘track’ women in order to keep them safe. Policing women, restricting their movements and monitoring their attire is not the way to prevent rape. It will only encourage a culture that punishes women for not conforming and obeying the diktats of a male-dominated society. Such a culture tacitly condones rape.

Chouhan should take head on the patriarchal culture and the celebration of violent masculinity that allows rape to flourish. His government must act swiftly to bring to justice the perpetrators of the recent crimes. The latter will attempt to intimidate, even silence the victims and their families. The government must ensure the safety of the victims.