Trigger Warning: Rape
Sexual violence against women in India have rapidly grown over the years, despite the laws and legislations that have been passed to protect them. The lack of proper implementation of laws and policies have been co-opted by the larger society and its stigma and misconceptions around sexual violence and harassment. Such predicaments are a part and parcel of every woman and people from gender minority groups in India. And these get exacerbated with various other intersectional marginalisations of caste, ethnic community, religion, conflict and class.
The following are the most common rape-myths that we often hear or have internalised ourselves which need to be busted to create a more gender sensitive world and alleviate instances of sexual violence against gender minority groups in India.
1. Myth: Only people from a ‘certain background’ are more likely to be perpetrators of rape.
Fact: Perpetrators can come from any and every backgroynd. In fact, most perpetrators are known to survivors as friends, family or peers. This belief is often rooted in classism and casteism and takes the focus away from communities, societies and families, leading to false beliefs that only men from a ‘certain background’ can be rapists.
2. Myth: All sex within marriage is consensual. Married women cannot be raped by their partner.
Fact: The misconception that rape cannot occur within marriage is an extremely harmful one. Sex without consent in any situation is rape even if the perpetrator is the partner of the married woman. Marriage does not equal to a lifetime’s supply of consent.
3. Myth: Majority of rape allegations are false.
Fact: False rape allegations make a small percentage of total rapes reported. The myth of false allegations is exaggerated to discredit women’s narratives, thereby, enabling real rapists to escape justice. Reporting rape is already a very difficult task, given the societal stigma, with majority of the cases going unreported. Scepticism towards rape allegations further discourages women from reporting real cases.
4. Myth: It’s only rape if the victim puts up a fight and resists.
Fact: Victims are often affected by ‘tonic immobility’, an involuntary and temporary paralysis in response to situations involving intense fear. They may also feel that fighting or resisting will make their attacker angry, resulting in more severe injury or even death. Saying that a person cannot have been rapedbecause their response was too muted is a deeply flawed argument.
5. Myth: Rape is an act of lust and passion that can’t be controlled.
Fact: Rape is most often about power and control and not motivated by sexual gratification. It is often used as a tool to dominate, humiliate and punish. This is why vulnerable communities are often targeted by dominant communities with rape, especially in areas of conflict/war.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India