Occupy Raisina Hill

Too many of us, including TV talking heads, confuse the political with the psychological. It is not the government's job to soothe and handhold you, or a politician's duty to make a strident production of her feelings. It is their job to provide security and a responsive administration. But the reason rapes happen, are rarely reported, and are listlessly investigated, is not because of our government, it is because of our society. It is because we make a rape survivor feel that she is better off not asking for redress, and inviting all the social shaming and intrusive questioning that goes with it.

Institutional responses also flow out of social responses, ultimately. Much of the police is hostile to women, treating sexual assault cases with insensitivity, or outright misogyny. Though our rape law is unexceptionable on paper, and privileges the woman's testimony over corroborating evidence or questions of prior sexual conduct and character, it is tripped by bad investigation and by delay. The police, then, could be one point of focus in this agitation. Reforming the police requires depoliticising it, remaking its incentives to make it accountable to citizens, that its men and women are better trained to deal with sexual violence, that their social attitudes are linked to recruitment and promotion, if possible. Judicial pendency would be another productive point of focus for public dissatisfaction.

The real transformation though, still needs to be internal. Rape can be driven by sadism, by the need to dominate or control a person or a group, to terrorise a woman or to teach a man whose "property" she is assumed to be. We can try to change the assumptions of a rape culture, by making sure girls and boys grow up with healthier gender roles, by making sexuality less repressed and dark than it is.

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