Rape: Crime or Disorder?

Rape is a heinous crime against a woman which has far reaching consequences affecting her psyche and life. It is generally associated with a criminal mind-set and behaviour on the part of the male person committing the outrageous act.The law presumes that the person committing the act acts deliberately and willfully to satisfy an animal desire. Since the Society reacts to this crime with outrage, the law prescribes severe punishment for it.

After a particularly vicious attack on a paramedic committed in a bus in South Delhi about three years back, which shook the conscience of the entire nation and caused a nation-wide furor, the law on rape was drastically revised prescribing much more severe punishment, widening the definitions of the term rape, and making reporting such crimes much easier. It was earnestly hoped that the new stringent law would bring down the incidence of crime against women. But the actual impact of the new law was almost the opposite and the incidence of crime against women recorded an increase. The enlarged definitions also brought in some different kinds of reports. For instance, women having spent time as live-in partners with men. started registering rape cases against their partners after break-up. Further, having had consensual sex, women registered rape complaint against the men concerned on the plea that they were persuaded to yield with the promise of marriage.

I am more concerned here with the kind of rape committed with the use of force against a totally unwilling, non-cooperative and resisting woman or one made helpless after administering sedatives etc. My understanding is that the reasoning faculties and self-control of male persons in such cases is temporarily overwhelmed by the intensity of factors having to do with their body chemistry. It has to do with their bodies producing abnormal quantities of the relevant hormones.(It is known that abnormal secretions of hormones cause bodily disorders even leading to what are normally considered crimes such as theft caused by a condition called kleptomania). Even husbands are reported to occasionally use force to compel their wives to have sex. It should be realised that they are the victims of their body chemistry.

I, therefore, feel that persons guilty of rape with the use of force against an unwilling woman. while being proceeded against under the statute,should also be examined medically to monitor their body chemistry and determine if a medical condition made them to act in the way they did and if such is found to be the case, suitable ameliorative measures, including medication and impact on the punishment awarded may be considered. This is advisable considering that the harsh legislation has failed to act as a deterrent.

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