"Rapistan": There are no safe places

Last Updated: Mon, Jul 23, 2018 12:31 hrs
Rape in India

On July 10, the 2010 batch IAS topper, Shah Faesal, tweeted a letter he had received from his boss, saying departmental action would be initiated against him since his activities on Twitter showed he had “failed to maintain absolute honesty and integrity in discharge of [his] official duty and thus acted in a manner unbecoming of a public servant”.

The tweet which got him in trouble was one he posted on April 22, in which he said, “Patriarchy + population + illiteracy + alcohol + porn + technology + anarchy = Rapistan!”

He could hardly have been more honest.

Months after an 8-year-old child was raped inside a temple by men who were involved in its rituals, a 35-year-old woman was reportedly gang-raped in her home, dragged to a temple, and burnt alive.

The horror simply does not end.

This week, Madras woke up to the news that 22 men had been arrested in connection with the repeated rape and sexual abuse of a hearing-impaired 11-year-old girl over seven months. They were all employees of the apartment complex in which she lived, or friends of these employees.

She was violated where she ought to have been safest – inside the gated community she called home, teeming with security guards.

Yet, in an era where practically every apartment complex is equipped with CCTV cameras and where people have to produce identity cards to enter, these men were able to drug a child with injections and intoxicants, take her to isolated spots inside the premises, videotape their sexual assaults, and blackmail her into obliging them further and keeping her parents in the dark.

Several of the accused are in their 50s and 60s, ages at which men are typically considered “too old” to be dangerous. Most of them were employees of a private security firm, which ought to have conducted a thorough background check.

The parents’ complaint at the All Women’s Police Station in Ayanavaram has been quoted in the media as stating that the assaults began on January 15 this year, when the lift operator Ravi, aged 66, led the child away once she entered the lift and raped her. A few days later, he brought two friends who filmed their assault. Her ordeal would last seven months, and they found the privacy the needed in the basement, public washrooms, and gym of the apartment complex.

Earlier this month, a 99-year-old man was arrested for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old child. She was raped at home, by her landlord. What makes this even more chilling is that the perpetrator, K Parasuraman, is a retired school principal.

Schools are assumed to be safe places.

And yet, we find an increasing number of assaults occurring in schools.

Two weeks ago, the principal, a teacher, and fifteen students of a school were held for the repeated rape of a Class 10 student. The victim said in her complaint that she had initially been assaulted by her classmates, and when she told her teacher about it, he responded by assaulting her.

On July 18, government statistics read out in Parliament put the number of reported and recorded cases of rape between 2014 and 2016 at 1,10,333.

Last week, a 24-year-old male survivor of child sexual abuse from Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh sent a plea asking to be euthanised, to the President and the chief minister of his state, Chandrababu Naidu, pointing out that not only did male victims of CSA have to deal with stigma, but there were no provisions in law to punish perpetrators.

Police, he said, greeted most such cases with disbelief and often refused to take complaints. He had been abused by a cousin as a 4-year-old and was assaulted twice again, in his teens, by his teachers.

He quoted an “official survey report” by the Union government, which said more than 52 percent of boys were sexually abused in India.

The numbers are staggering, and we have no solution.

Men, women, and children are not safe at home.

They are not safe in temples.

They are not safe in schools.

When an eight-year-old child was raped and killed, crowds took to the streets in support of the rapists. Among these protesters was a member of the ruling party.

In a country bursting with people and ruled by a patriarchal mindset, which blames victims of sexual assault for their choice of clothes, work, and time of travel, where alcohol fuels rapes, which are video recorded and distributed through technology, why is Shah Faesal under scrutiny for using the word “Rapistan”, when what should truly be under scrutiny are the factors he so astutely laid out?


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Nandini is a journalist and humour writer based in Madras. She is the author of Hitched: The Modern Woman and Arranged Marriage. 

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