I recently read an article in DNA Analysis saying there was a 43% rise in rape cases in Bombay, in the first six months of this year. However, this increase in rape is not what made my skin crawl but the fact that it went on to say that the Bombay Police claimed the statistic was misleading because “90% of the acts (or rape) have been purely consensual.” Pardon my French but what the fuck is consensual rape – are they suggesting that there are women and children who ask to be raped? And it begs the question of why such a term even exists or is deemed acceptable in our social and legal lexicon?
I immediately scoured the internet to see if this nonsensical and offensive term actually existed anywhere else in the world. Not surprisingly I could not find a single reference, other than five solitary entries on a site called Urban Dictionary – a place where entries can be created by anyone with internet access. Below were the five entries defining consensual rape; created by some clearly sick people:
- Upon a messy break-up, one or both parties of a relationship will wish they never had sex with the other person ever, thereby making each lovemaking session that occurred between them known as “consensual rape”.
- When both Parties agree upon a role play situation in which one will try to force coitus with the other person. The rapist will try engage in copulation whilst the rapee must defend against the rape .The rape will end once fornication has begun or the rapist gives up and is unable to to force sex.
- When two people are on the ground playfighting in positions that looks more like violent sex to anyone nearby.
- When, during the act of being raped, the victim offers to cooperate with the rapist. The impending rape becomes a win-win situation due to: 1) the rapist gets some and 2) the victim doesn’t get the full effects of an actually, violent rape.
- This occurs when a person attempts to rape another person, but in a turning of the tables, the other person then attempts to rape the first rapist. Resulting in simply angry sex.
It seems the Bombay police department has been consulting these definitions because I could find no other mentions of this term it legal references anywhere in the world. Please note the startlingly similarity in definition provided by DCP Mahesh Patil, spokesperson of the Bombay police, (in the DNA article): “Most of the times, the rape case is filed following an affair that went sour.” That apart, as per the law, we have to arrest the person if he ends up having an affair with a minor and the parents file a complaint. “In all these cases, the act is consensual but we have to arrest the accused on charge of rape.” (Source: “43% rise in rape cases in Mumbai but the police claims more than 90% consensual” – DNA Analysis)
Disturbingly, what the DCP describes in his second sentence, totally writing it off, is known as statutory rape in most parts of the world, and is also considered a criminal offence. It involves having consensual sex with a minor who is below the age of consent; which in most countries is 18 years of age. This law was designed to protect children and minors from sexual abuse, which is a major problem in India.
We can never solve India’s sexual assault epidemic if we allow the use of, and are willing to accept the terms like consensual rape. It means that as a society we are signaling that there are acceptable and non-criminal forms of rape. More worryingly it just re-enforces what many male leaders have been saying on the issue of rape; that women are often at fault or were somehow asking for it. The existence of a term like consensual rape is abhorrent. It is one we must all reject and wipe from our societal vocabulary before we can start to change attitudes. Perhaps, it helps explains why marital rape is still not considered a criminal offense by our courts. The bottom line is that rape is a serious crime (as it should be to lie about being raped) and until we can all agree, the women of India will never be safe.