As Always, You Asked For It

As the Kolkata Park Street case shows, rape victims in India are asked to produce character certificates before they will be taken seriously.

The recent Park street case in Kolkata where a woman alleged that she was raped inside a car after being accompanied by some men from a nightclub, demonstrates once again what we’v always known: If you get raped, you’re likely to be blamed for it.

In this case, the woman went to a nightclub (GASP!), had alcohol (cue bigger GASP!) and had met the alleged rapists before she was attacked by them were all used as sticks to beat her with.

In other words, she was not the sati-savitri sitting at home and attacked by armed intruders breaking in, which is the only sort of victim one is allowed to sympathise with (and even there, someone will point out that she didn’t have enough locks on her door). In this case, that the lady had filed her complaint 4 days after the event was again stirred up. Given the way the police treated her to begin with, is it surprising that citizens hesitate to file complaints? Again, and again, women who complain are asked to produce character certificates before they will be taken seriously.

The fact that this state happens to be run by a female Chief Minister at present, made no difference whatsoever. I suppose it is too much to expect that there will be some sort of empathy just because of gender; on the contrary, the CM wasted no time in alleging that the woman had cooked up the incident to “malign” her government.

We know for a fact that crimes against women happen everywhere – inside homes, on busy streets and deserted ones, inside so-called exclusive locations like pubs and nightclubs, during the day and at night. Why, girls have been picked up from places as busy as a communal water filling spot.

If anyone should know this better, is is the police who have clear records of and experience with where crimes happen. Yet, again and again, police forces in this country persist in first launching an investigation of the victim’s character rather than into the mechanism of the crime.

In this case, the victim’s tenaciousness in pursuing the case, her refusal to bow down to any so-called sense of shame in bringing such matters to light, and the media’s persistence in following it up have helped to keep the pressure up on the police. Could you imagine if a similiar crime had happened far from a metro and away from media attention, with a victim who agreed to believe that she had asked for it?

Pic credit: Man Alive! (This image of a protestor at a Slutwalk protest in Manchester, UK has been used under a Creative Commons license)

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About the Author

Aparna Vedapuri Singh

Founder & Chief Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations to create change. She has been writing since she was ten. In another life, she used to be read more...

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