India’s Rape Problem and Legislator Impunity


India’s largest quarantine center for mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic Covid-19 patients is in the capital, Delhi.  Newly built it accommodates 10,000 patients, and it was here in this teeming mass of people that a 14-year old girl was raped on July 15. 

She went to the bathroom where a 19-year old man raped her while an accomplice filmed the activity.  The BBC report is unclear on what the men were doing in the women’s facility or even if these conveniences are segregated for the sexes.  The girl told her parents, and the police arrested the two men.  That they did not flee following the incident might have some bearing on Indian culture.  It is possible they assumed the shame of reporting the rapes was greater than the trauma and she would remain silent.

This is not the only incident in these quarantine centers.  A week earlier in Mumbai, a woman was reportedly assaulted in such a center.  And in Patna a minor, as in Delhi, was raped in an isolation ward.  One can only wonder where the staff were.

India’s National Crime Records Bureau reported 33,356 rape cases across the country in 2018.  It is the 4th most common crime against women and in 93.9 percent of the cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim.  The number of cases work out to a rape somewhere in the country every 15 minutes.  Only the most egregious stories make international news like the BBC, and some beggar belief.

A six-year old child was playing with friends outside her home when she was abducted and assaulted.  The attacker then injured her eyes so she would not be able to identify him.

The father of a 15-year old rape victim and the family were warned by the rapist not to report the incident.  When they filed the police report anyway, he shot the father dead.  The accused has not been caught.

The five-year old daughter of a member of the housekeeping staff at the US embassy in Delhi was raped on the embassy grounds.  The perpetrator’ father is employed there, and he lives with his parents in embassy staff quarters.

Kuldeep Sengar is a member of the state legislative assembly in Uttar Pradesh (Wikipedia).  A 17-year old girl came to him looking for a job.  His response was to confine her, where for a week she was raped repeatedly by Mr. Sengar and his accomplices.  When she filed the case, he planned a car accident in which the girl’s two aunts were killed.  She was critically injured but survived.  Mr. Sengar has now been sentenced to life in prison.

There is, however, a provision in India’s life sentence for remission after 14 years.  If Mr. Sengar maintains his political contacts, the state could release him then.  The man of course is responsible for the deaths of two people in an attempt to kill the victim and negate his case.

Legal remedies after the fact are unable to restrain the conceit of power over the weaker sex.  Urges hardwired into the reptilian amygdala require early socialization to humanize us — it must be added, with varying degrees of success.  Needless to say, the problem is not India’s by itself. 

Finally, Mr. Sengar is not alone:  More than 40 percent of the members of India’s parliament face criminal charges, including murder and rape, reports the Straits Times.  ADR, India’s Association of Democratic Reform calls it a disturbing trend.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.


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