India keeps making international headlines, for one thing, these days and that is rape. From time to time, the most brutal rapes in the country are reported in the media and the world goes into a shock reading about those.
Rape is a part of the reality in any society, but there are places like India, where 93 women are raped every day. And women are raped, burnt, hanged, and people go aghast at the brutality.
Why is there a spurt in rape statistics in India in recent times? What is it in the men’s psychology that is egging them to commit this heinous act? In a detailed interview psychologist, Kavita Panyam explains the situation in India.
As a psychologist, why do you think there are so many cases of brutal rape in India?
I would first like to begin with the common knowledge that any exposure is likely to give someone a criminal bent of mind. No one is born with a criminal mindset. I would not even blame the genes for it.
But the exposure that we have today when it comes to the youth is dangerous for our society. Crime happens for three reasons: courage, confidence and collaboration. It may not just be one person, it might be a gang.
Somebody comes up with the idea because they have seen something, read something in crime magazines, watched crime thriller web series which depict in detail how a person was assaulted and then killed, whether the scooter was parked here or someplace else, how the tyre was punctured, all these minute details are shown, and that is way too much detail, don’t you think?
So, what happens is that those who are a bit tilted towards a criminal mindset, every day they are getting new ideas on how to execute a crime. It is hard to explain the exact psychology of rape, but this is also true that this exposure is highly malefic. Even those who don’t want to do these crimes are influenced by these in some way.
It makes them feel like they are more in charge, more powerful and also not being fearful of the consequences at that point of time while committing that act. The psychology of rape has got to do more with power than sexual gratification.
Is rape in India a phenomenon because people think they can get away with it?
Justice has taken a backseat in our nation. Justice is not there from A to Z., And the people who are criminals are very well aware of that. They take such risks to commit that act because they know it will take 7-8 years for the court verdict to come through. And they get out on bail.
When it comes to this kind of crime, usually, there has to be a leader and some gullible people who follow the leader. The leader instructs them, and they obey his orders mindlessly. Sometimes it might also happen that they are scared for their own life, so they have little choice but to obey his laws. These are psychopaths, who find other gullible people who either have no choice or simply they might be anti-social people who don’t mind taking this risk. In a group like this, if there had been one person who could challenge the leader when he says they should commit rape, the scenario would have been different. But that sadly rarely happens.
When you see most rapists who have been arrested or convicted, you can see, they are entirely expressionless. Very few of them are crying. They live in an illusionary world. To explain the psychology of rape research has shown that rapists rarely feel guilty about the actions they have committed. They have ways and means of justifying what they have done.
Why do you feel so many young boys are getting involved in rape in India?
There is no age for a crime these days. Eighth standard and 6th standard boys are writing inappropriate messages. There have even been cases of sexual assault by boys belonging to this age group. According to studies, rape cases in India have grown multi-fold over the last few years – and it all starts at home. Young boys in villages are not taught enough to respect women, they see and treat women as objects.
In urban areas, there is so much exposure to smartphones, parents are not able to keep tabs on what is happening, and there is so much access to the internet.
You can see anything privately on your smartphone sitting in your own room. Easy access to porn, drugs, alcohol is also one reason for the increase of these crimes.
Women empowerment that is doing the rounds on social media are about male-bashing these days, and they are even blaming the parents of the children who are male – all factors that are contributing to an increase in rape cases in India.
But the parents are not teaching their sons to go do such things. There is something called peer pressure. It starts at adolescence when one is around 13 years of age and goes on till the age of 19-20. The sex drive is powerful during teenage. At that time, if the boys are given sex education, if the legal implications are made known to them and perhaps channelling all these urges into something productive- physical activities like volleyball, football, basketball etc. and creative activities like sketching, reading, then it could make a difference.
These activities would help them channelize these sexual energies into something more creative, which is not happening. The parents do not spend more time with their children because they are busy in their activities. Being hooked to the mobile, internet addiction watching Youtube videos, watching porn videos and scantily clad women – all these contribute to their curiosity in a rather unhealthy way.
Also, if they are in a group of friends, there is a lot of peer pressure. They get pressurized to drink, smoke, do drugs and even commit heinous sexual crimes. Item songs like Anarkali Disco Chali, Fevicol, robbery scenes even the rape scenes in movies – our writers give them the ideas on how to execute such crimes, were to intrude, how to dump the body, how to escape etc.
We are wholeheartedly promoting these action and crime thriller movies which are doing well and then there are people with criminal mindset who are watching and learning – and somehow this is all adding to rape statistics in India.
Has rape in India developed as a culture then?
Rape is not a culture, but it is happening all over the world. What causes rape? It has nothing to do with clothes, financial status, or how you look. It is something that happens at the spur of the moment, and four people might have had no intention to rape, but suddenly one person feels let’s do it, and the others follow.
What steps should be taken to prevent rape in India stemming from sexual assaults?
Workshops should be conducted for men in cities and rural areas too where the message should be put across about the consequences of rape and also they should be given ideas and means to channelize their sexual energies constructively. If you look at the psychology of rape, you will see that most men committing this crime have no idea of consent. It is important to drill into their psyche what consent means.
Excessive sexual urge, boredom, anti-social and psychopathic impulses can be controlled through these workshops.
Women should be alert and have the presence of mind. Carry a knife, pepper spray, make a call to the police and share location with them or even scream really loudly. A lot of women have saved themselves by their presence of mind. Women have to train in self-defence, carry preventive items and learn how to deal with a situation.
There should be workshops for women, too on how to stay safe.