RainbowMan: The Tale of Two Rapists

Harish Iyer’s piece on two rapists who were recently released and the culture of rape

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Rape is rape, there are no two ways about it (Photo: iStock)

A set of recent incidents involving gruesome rapes of women across the country has yet again raised several questions about Indian society and judiciary. We at The Quint believe that a rape survivor’s life doesn’t end when she is raped. And that even if our institutions - law, the judiciary, the hospitals - are failing a rape survivor, we as a society need to step up. And keep the fight going. We are publishing this article originally published on 24 December 2015 from The Quint’s archives as part of our #KeepFighting campaign.

A lot has been happening over the last few days. There were four releases – two movies and two rapists. While I’m not inclined to watch either of the movies, I have been following all the news about the two rapists walking free.

While a Saudi Arabian man was acquitted of rape charges by a London court when he claimed that he accidentally penetrated a woman when he fell over her, the juvenile in Nirbhaya’s case was released from prison.

Let’s first look at the accidental rape, before we go into the case of the rape by the juvenile. As a rape survivor I can tell you two things. Rape is by definition sex without consent.

Now, before you go about throwing statistics of how innocent men are framed by women who have consensual sex and then cry rape to make money by blackmailing the man, let me tell you that while there are false rape cases and even cases of what is called ‘technical rape,’ where there is consensual sex between an underage person and an adult, it does not still fall under the purview of accidental rape. Simply because rape is not an accident! There is always an element of deliberation involved. Rape occurs because the perpetrator chooses to rape.

The Saudi Arabian man said that the woman crashed on his couch in a drunken state while he had sex with another woman in the next room. He walked up to the first woman to ask her if she needed a taxi and she pulled his head towards her causing him to fall and accidentally penetrate her. Now, I maybe gay, but I know where a vagina is located in a woman’s body.

It is physically impossible to accidentally fall and penetrate a woman. The ingenious Saudi Arabian then claimed that he had sperm on his hands from his previous sexual encounter and his hand ended on the woman’s vagina when he fell on her. Yeah… right! Oddly the honourable court found this explanation satisfactory and acquitted the man in just over half an hour!
Policemen escort the juvenile convicted in the December gangrape case of 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
Policemen escort the juvenile convicted in the December gangrape case of 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Meanwhile, Jyoti’s juvenile rapist was recently released from prison. Infact, when people protested against his release and the Delhi Commission for Women filed a petition to stay the release, the Supreme Court turned down their request, claiming their hands were tied by the existing law.

While I do empathise with the public sentiment, I do not support the lynch mob mentality that we have. We can’t turn barbaric with the barbaric. Meanwhile, I also acknowledge that it is unclear if the three-year-prison term has reformed the rapist and made him regret and repent for what he did. I really wish our jails were corrective and reformative cells, not a den, or a meeting point that makes a person more devious. I have seen several posts shared on Facebook, which stated how they want rapists to be raped, well, rape can never be a deterrent to rape.

I have said this many times, “it is not the severity of punishment, but the certainty of it that will act as a deterrent”. The fact is that most people who are wealthy and commit heinous crimes think they can get away with rape or murder with their money power or muscle power. That needs to change.

Meanwhile, in the US, campus rape has reached epidemic proportions over the last few years. In fact, when girl students at a prestigious American university held a ‘No Means No’ protest march; the boys responded with a ‘No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal’ march!

A still from <i>The Hunting Ground, </i>a documentary on campus rapes in the USA
A still from The Hunting Ground, a documentary on campus rapes in the USA

I read horror stories of sexual abuse from all war torn countries in the world every day. I have also come across particularly disturbing accounts of parents raping children.

A mother in Bangalore raped her son. A father raped his three-year-old daughter. The daughter complained to the mother and was taken to a hospital, where idiots subjected her to the dreaded ‘two-finger-test’ to check the elasticity of her vagina to determine if she was ‘habituated’ to sex.

First she was raped by her father and then strangers inserted their fingers into the three-year-old’s vagina. Really guys? Did you really need to do that, especially after the Supreme Court itself ruled a few years ago that the ‘two-finger-test’ should be stopped.
A parent raping a child is the ultimate breach of trust (Photo: iStock)
A parent raping a child is the ultimate breach of trust (Photo: iStock)

This daughter rapist is actually an international diplomat who initially was provided immunity. But when his Indian wife protested, his immunity was scrapped and the case was brought to trial. In the interim, he petitioned the court to be able to spend time with his daughter and the court granted him partial custody. Just imagine the trauma the child will have to go through having a meal with her rapist father!

A parent raping a child is the ultimate breach of trust. The mother is campaigning hard on social media to generate support for her petition to keep the child away from her father till the trial comes to an end. Her next hearing is coming up soon and both, mother and child, are a picture of courage under fire.

So, accidental rape, juvenile rape, campus rape, parental rape… they are all forms of rape. Rape is rape. The guilty should be punished. The survivor should be spared all kinds of mental and physical torture and trauma.

(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals. ‘Rainbow Man’ is Harish’s regular blog for The Quint)

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