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POLICY REPORT NO. 15

Enabling Reporting of Rape in India: An Exploratory Study

| Photo Credit: Ranganathan Chellappa

This Report is an exploratory work seeking to answer the question ‘What enables reporting of rape in India?’ Under-reporting of rape is often attributed to social norms that stigmatise female sexuality, to the point that there is a guarded silence and secrecy around it even when subjected to violence. This view on under-reporting places the blame on the victim, as if she makes a choice in not reporting rape, constrained by the influence of an abstract force of patriarchy. What I found was that social stigma becomes irrelevant the moment the incident of rape becomes public knowledge and hence cannot dis-incentivise the victim for reporting. In fact, the victim is motivated to prosecute and seek justice, if only for her own vindication.

What come into play then are institutional barriers arising out of the extrapolation of social norms into the State. This Report examines these institutional factors located and operating within socio-cultural constructs of rape and female sexuality to identify enabling forces that can overcome barriers to reporting of rape. The first part of the Report analyses rape statistics in India to identify regional patterns at the State and district levels. The second part was conducted through interviews of victims, police officers, advocates, women’s organisations, activists and State officials.

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