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Psychology of Rape: The Controversy

By Jini Gopinath
From Buzz@Bangalore, Bangalore
Posted Mar 31st 2013 9:00AM

In recent times, the topic of rape has been getting a lot of attention from the media and is the subject of many formal and informal discussions. Anything being said about rape also has started becoming controversial due to heightened sensitivity and public outrage. Also, everyone seems to have an opinion about rape, by blaming the system, condemning the behaviour and appearance of women and even criticising the publicity being given to it.

The issue of rape is not something that has cropped up suddenly. It has been prevalent even from prehistoric times. There are instances even from the animal world when certain kinds of copulatory behaviours are considered akin to rape. Evolutionary psychology theorists base their theories of rape on such behaviour. Male animals, which are inferior to others due to some inherent problems, like physical structure may not get a female to consent to copulation, and as a result resort to rape behaviour. This has been extended to humans also, theorising that males who have some kind of inferiority issues are more likely to rape. This theory has faced a lot of criticism, however, a lot of rapists have been found to have some mental, physical or socio-cultural disadvantages.

However, the sad downside of the issue is that the chastity of women was given a lot of importance in most cultures, and even a rape is considered as a breach. Instead of focusing on the problems of the man who committed the crime, the focus shifts to the female victim, in terms of blame or sympathy. There is a lot of self blame also involved, as the victim perceives herself to have caused the incident by getting into a vulnerable situation or not fighting long enough, so much so that it may lead to depression and suicide. This has lead to under reporting of such incidents and thus leads to unavailability of psychological help to the victim. On the other hand, the offender gets away with his maladaptive coping strategy to have a sense of fulfilment and feeling of power, avoiding punishment and treatment.

As long as the attitude of the society remains the same, the issue of rape and associated problems will remain. What is needed is a change in perception and a shift in focus if this menace has to be dealt with effectively.

To share your thoughts and questions, write to Jini Gopinath at askcoolage@teamaol.com

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