Incredible India: The Country of Rape Tourism

By Trisha Ray (Copy Editor)

 

 

 

 

 

It is no overstatement to say that now is the best of times and the worst of times to be a member of the fairer sex in India. We have women breaking the proverbial glass-ceiling, becoming important players in the political and corporate world. The December gang-rape case was a wake-up call of epic proportions. People around the country rose, marching for justice and in defiance.

With women’s safety being such a visible part of discourse today, one would think that atrocities against women and girls would become less frequent. India, proud home of the most dastardly patriarchs, begs to differ. You know something is horribly wrong when you dread opening the newspaper, knowing that you’ll be reading about yet another instance of men not being able to keep it in their pants. And now it seems as though these mounds of slime in the guise of human beings are getting even bolder. Maybe it’s because justice is such a complicated process. Maybe they feel safe, tucked into the folds of a society that blames the victim; that absolves the rapist of responsibility.

I will pick up two recent cases. One of the Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh; the second of the British tourist in Agra. Both illustrate a disturbing lack of humanity, both horrifying beyond belief, both being debacles of international proportions. On March 16th, a Swiss woman and her husband were on a bicycle trip to Agra. They had set up camp for the night, when they were attacked by 6 men. The husband was beaten viciously. His wife was raped in front of him. A few days later, on March 18th, a young British woman jumped out of a hotel window after the hotel owner attempted to sexually assault her. She sustained injuries to her head, and fractured both her legs.

Both these cases of heart-rending hospitality illustrate just how messed-up many men’s perception of women has become. I’m not claiming that rape happens only in India, but it certainly seems to be on a fast track to becoming the rape destination of the world. The official statistics released by the government put India third in the world when it comes to reported cases of rape. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of rape cases registered in India increased by a startling 873.3 %, from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. Since rape is “a notoriously under-reported crime”, one can only speculate how horrifying the ground reality is.

The governments of Switzerland, UK and Australia (with more countries soon to follow) have already issued travel advisories, citing the recent spike in sexual violence against women and girls- “… recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk.”

The sad fact of the matter is that change is still a bleak hope. “Aisa kaun he jisne apni umar ki ladkiyon ka peecha nahin kiya? Agar ladke ladkiyon ka peechha nahi karenge to mohabbat khatm hi ho jayegi. (Who amongst us has not followed girls? If they didn’t, romance would cease to exist)”, Sharad Yadav, illumined member of Parliament had this to say during the discussion on the Anti-Rape bill in Lok Sabha (19th March, 2013). In the ensuing display of misplaced hilarity, his fellow parliamentarians joined him in belittling the cause of women’s safety. How lovely.Why are more and more men in this country so intent on destroying the lives of women? Since when did sexual assault become the national pastime? Yes, objectification is an issue. As is the social conditioning these men get from the minute they are born. But a lot of these crimes are crimes of hate. The brutality with which they assault, the glee with which they contemplate her suffering and the firm conviction that ‘she got what she deserved’ show a deep-seated resentment. It is ominous; and as a woman living in this city in this country, I feel imprisoned. I can only hope that things have gotten as bad as they can, and from now on they can only get better.




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