As in the case of the 19-year-old girl from Bandra (East) who was repeatedly raped by her father for nine years, it is often seen that victims of rape at the hands of a parent or relatives seldom reveal their ordeal.
Experts say the reasons for this tolerance of sexual abuse are manifold, ranging from the social stigma surrounding rape, fear of being harmed, to the feeling of betrayal that accompanies making an allegation against one’s parent.
“The victim’s emotions are mixed. While there is a lot of shame and fear, there is also a lot of affection for the father. Besides, victims in such cases feel a sense of betrayal when accusing their father of such a heinous crime,” said Dr Harish Shetty, a leading psychiatrist.
He said there is social stigma surrounding rape, and many victims often blame themselves for such instances.
“We should get issues of stigma out in the open. The more we talk about it, the more awareness will be created and the lesser will be the frequency of sexual assaults. The more you hide, the worse it will get,” he added.
Dr Shubhangi Parkar, professor and head of the psychiatry department at KEM college said the silent tolerance can also be attributed to the fear of being harmed by the perpetrator. In several cases, even the victim’s mother advises her against telling anyone about the crime, she said.
“Apart from awareness about such crimes, what is important is that children should not blindly respect elders. Blind reverence can be really detrimental,” said Dr Shetty.