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How to Stop India's Endemic Culture of Rape?

Updated on June 7, 2014
Indian women feel more empowered to report instances of sexual abuse and they organized campaigns against patriarchal cultures and sexual violence.
Indian women feel more empowered to report instances of sexual abuse and they organized campaigns against patriarchal cultures and sexual violence. | Source

Rape cases that have shocked India

  • 23 January 2014: Thirteen men held in West Bengal in connection with the gang rape of a woman, allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man
  • 4 April 2014: A court sentences three men to hang for raping a 23-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai last year

  • 15 January 2014: A Danish woman is allegedly gang raped after losing her way near her hotel in Delhi

  • 17 September 2013 : Five youths held in Assam for allegedly gang-raping a 10-year-old girl

  • 4 June 2013: A 30-year-old American woman gang-raped in Himachal Pradesh

  • 30 April 2013: A five-year-old girl dies two weeks after being raped in Madhya Pradesh

  • 16 December 2012: Student gang raped on Delhi bus, sparking nationwide protests and outrage; she later dies of her injuries

Conflict between Economic Growth and Patriarchal Culture

The gruesome rape and hanging of two teenage girls again proves how women continue to suffer in India's endemic culture of rape.


India’s rapid globalization has led to the emergence of women in public spaces. More and more women are educated and they become lawyers, doctors, teachers. As more women become increasingly visible in the workplace, they organize more awareness-raising campaigns against the patriarchal culture and sexual violence. The increase in number of rape cases reported is partly because Indian women feel more empowered to report instances of sexual abuse.


On the other hand, many are unsure of the precise role of women in India’s boom society. With its rigid, conservative patriarchal cultures, some are confused and frustrated that more women are competing for jobs and earning their livelihood. Some may feel that these women are defying the traditional social norms of conduct.

Protesters in Bhubaneswar, India, wear nooses to express their hopes for the men who allegedly raped and killed a young woman receive swift justice.
Protesters in Bhubaneswar, India, wear nooses to express their hopes for the men who allegedly raped and killed a young woman receive swift justice. | Source

India's Endemic Culture of Rape is not just about Sexual Violence.

There are suggestions for implementing fast-track courts for speedy justice, capital punishment, and chemical castration of not just the perpetrators but also all rapists.

Indubitably, capital punishments and castration of rapists can serve as a deterrence for people from committing heinous crimes.

However, the question is who and how many people will we castrate? Will implementing harsh punishments alone serve as an effective deterrence for rapists and murderers? And will it reverse the sex inequality in India?


India's endemic culture of rape is not just solely because the rapists are addicted to sexual violence. It is more about the patriarchal culture of male domination, the harsh social norms of conduct for women and the sense of powerlessness amongst the people from a lower caste.


Therefore, simply introducing harsh punishments alone as a deterrence to sexual violence is not enough. Capital punishments alone may not work effectively.

The challenge is for India to reject the deep-seated notions of the patriarchal culture, emancipate women from their traditional social norms of conduct. Above all, it is for India to recognize the right to equal participation of women and men, boys and girls, in all areas of society.


For India to achieve a superpower status, India's vision must be towards creating a democratic society with full gender equality that recognizes the right to equal participation of women and men, girls and boys, in all areas of society. Women and children are not commodities inside or outside the home, upper or lower class or caste.

Gruesome Rape and Hanging of Two Teenage Girls

"The first thing I was asked was my caste. When I told them they started abusing me," he said.

The father said he had to go down on all fours and literally beg the police.


Can India Resolve the Rape Crisis?

Those in positions of power and the media must challenge this patriarchal culture, the prevailing norms and attitudes and must not normalize, tolerate, or even condone rape.


Besides the implementation of death penalty and harsh punishments as deterrence, the State must sanction the immediate passage of the Sexual Harassment in the Work Place Bill. There needs to be an increase in budget allocations for policies to benefit women and girls, especially those who are in poverty or from a lower caste. There must be better and more vocal leaders representing the Women and Child Welfare Ministry and introduce power sharing for women at all levels of policy making.


A sound policy, for example, will be the overhauling of all registered business operating license and ensuring these licenses are only approved once all employees have undergone the Zero Tolerance of Sexual Violence training and pledge to maintain a proper code of conduct at work.

Sanitation is a luxury for people living in the developed cities. Nearly half-a-billion Indians - or 48% of the population - lack access to basic sanitation and defecate in the open.
Sanitation is a luxury for people living in the developed cities. Nearly half-a-billion Indians - or 48% of the population - lack access to basic sanitation and defecate in the open. | Source

Appalling Lack of Basic Sanitation

Nearly half-a-billion Indians - or 48% of the population - lack access to basic sanitation and defecate in the open.


For women it's a huge issue. They have to venture out early in the morning or late in the evening, as defecating openly in the middle of the day is too embarrassing.


The situation is worse in villages where, according to the WHO and Unicef, some 65% defecate in the open. And women appear to bear the brunt as they are mostly attacked and assaulted when they step out early in the morning or late in the evening.


India needs to build more private toilets with sewerage connections when space is available and shared toilets when space is scarce. Community toilets have worked in many places and flopped in others like the city of Bhopal, where, a study revealed, only half as many women as men used the toilets because of their distance from home.


Women and girls live must be ameliorated by introducing development measures for poverty reduction, sustainable development, and social programs focusing specifically on women to prevent them from being exploited for sex.


The mission to end rape requires policies that target broad perspective and it requires the collaboration of the State, the public and commercial companies as well as an overhaul of measures to combat all sexual violence within the justice system. Measures that concern the protection of and assistance to victims, especially in the rural areas, need to be redeveloped and implemented. And cases of men who are addicted to sexual violence and domination of women, must be reported for them to be rehabilitated.

India's Enduring Shame

For a country like India which aspires for a superpower status, its deep-seated notion of patriarchal culture, failure to recognize its gender inequality and even the lack of toilets in rural areas will be a permanent embarrassment.

The Opinion Poll

What is the Main Factor that led to India's Rape Crisis?

See results

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    • belleart profile image

      belleart 

      4 years ago from Ireland

      The thing about the caste system is that it really only applies to men, women are already lower than men, the caste system doesn't put them there, patriarchy does. What the Caste does do however, is make it much more acceptable to treat the people in lower classes horribly, and thus rape culture becomes more acceptable if its within the lower caste. The Untouchables, will always be treated badly, just like all women of any social standing.

      Great Hub, really well informed, and although it wasn't a pleasant read, I feel I have learned something valuable.

    • Frienderal profile imageAUTHOR

      Frienderal 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      You hit the nail, Carolyn! You are so right about "Hinduism teaches respect for living creatures, so even if the caste system was inherent within the religion and it caused discrimination for many years, it should not incite such violence against women and girls."

      Although there are smaller countries with even more rape cases reported, we do not hear stories of how girls were gang-raped and hanged in the village in broad daylight. Neither do we hear stories of how the victim's father had to literally beg the police for help, only to be mocked for his low caste status. And that is precisely why it is a "rape crisis".

      For a country like India who is trying to be a world major power, the recurrence of heinous rape-and-murder cases will be an enduring shame.

    • CarolynEmerick profile image

      Carolyn Emerick 

      4 years ago

      This subject keeps coming up in international news and I am always not only shocked and appalled but also disappointed in India. They are a nation and culture with much to admire. I've also read much about Hindus on the receiving end of violence from Muslim extremists, and in that region of the world where the Taliban is nearby and women are treated so badly in fundamentalist Islamic societies, India could be a real beacon of light and hope... But only if they get their act together! Hinduism teaches respect for living creatures, so even if the caste system was inherent within the religion and it caused discrimination for many years, it should not incite such violence against women and girls. Perhaps the erosion of traditional Hindu beliefs and losing the structured boundaries as India modernizes is causing chaos and confusion among those who have no guidelines or direction... There was an article recently in possibly the Hindu Times, or some popular Hindu blog, which said that sacred groves are being destroyed due to modernization and secularization is making people forget traditional core Hindu values like respect for nature. I wonder if there could be a correlation here...

    • Frienderal profile imageAUTHOR

      Frienderal 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you for your feedback!

      Most Indian men respect and do not abuse their wives. Marriage in India is more than just two person getting married. It is two families getting married. They know that slapping their wives is no different from slapping their own mothers, since families have a hand in picking brides. In larger cities, men and women both work regular jobs like anyone in the west.

      However, the "culture of male domination" refers to the male-dominated society. The adult literacy rate for women is still lower than men. The dowry tradition still occurs in rural areas despite being made illegal in 1961. Women is still viewed as economically and emotionally dependent on men and they go to live with their husband's family after marriage. Discrimination against widows or women in inheritance.

      Modern cities in India is abandoning such practices. Women are treated more or less equally in large cities. However, in rural areas these patriarchal practices are still prevalent. Measures must be in place to protect and assist women and girls.

    • Indian-economics profile image

      Indian-economics 

      4 years ago

      saying it "culture of male domination" is not true, it is only "addicted of sex" because rape is also attempts with 2-3 years old children, what is the mean of "culture of male domination" in this regard, these people are not "male" they are only black spot to be looks like male.

    • Frienderal profile imageAUTHOR

      Frienderal 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      India's endemic culture of rape is not just solely because the rapists are addicted to sexual violence. It is more about the patriarchal culture of male domination, the harsh social norms of conduct for women.

      India's vision must be towards creating a democratic society with full gender equality that recognizes the right to equal participation of women and men, girls and boys, in all areas of society. Women and children are not commodities inside or outside the home, upper or lower class or caste.

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