Many rape victims in India struggle with the consequences of the crime – and against the police. Even when foreign women are involved, there are rarely court verdicts.
Young Indians protest that many countrymen turn a blind eye to abuse of women. Picture: dpa
Foreign female tourists planning a trip in India had better inquire about the gender ratio in a region to avoid the risk of rape. That seemed to be the view of Indian police after a Swiss tourist and her male companion were assaulted by seven men on Friday night. Six suspects have since been arrested.
The crime is reminiscent of the fatal rape of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi last December, in which a group of men also got together. Afterwards, there had been numerous protests in Delhi, whereupon the government tightened the punishment for rapists.
It is difficult to say whether the danger to foreign women in particular is comparatively great in India. Many individual cases are known: Last year, a Spanish woman was victimized in Mumbai, before that a young Dutch woman on a rickshaw in Delhi’s suburb of Gurgaon, and quite some time ago a Swiss woman in a parking lot in Delhi.
None of these cases, however, was prosecuted by the police for any length of time and concluded in court because the victims usually left the country quickly and did not appear for the trial. For the perpetrators, this is a fine thing. Until now, anyone who raped a foreigner in India generally got away with it.
However, it is a novelty that a foreign woman has been the victim of rape in a rural area like northern Madhya Pradesh. Sexual violence against women is widespread in rural areas, but usually only within one’s own village community or family. Here, the perpetrators are largely protected from police prosecution. It is comparatively rare for anything to happen to outsiders or tourists.
More and more victims of violence
Nevertheless, things could take a turn for the worse in rural areas as well. The Madhya Preadesh police’s reference to the unbalanced gender ratio plays a major role in this: Especially in the poor regions, relatively fewer and fewer girls are being born. And more and more women are dying earlier as a result of violence and discrimination. But this threatens a vicious circle.
Many sociologists claim that a lack of women leads to a higher propensity to violence among men in the long run. For the Swiss tourist, things got worse even after she was raped: no one in the vicinity spoke English. Later, police found no gynecologist to examine her. As a sham, they detained 13 criminals who had nothing to do with the matter.
This also happens to women in India again and again: They are not taken seriously by the police as victims of sexual violence. Only on Sunday, after an outcry from the media and the Swiss embassy, did the police arrest the six suspects.