A greater cause of concern than the rising number of rape cases in the city is the fact that in most of the cases, the victim knew the perpetrator. While in many cases, a neighbour is the offender, victims often fallen prey to relatives, too.
If the Mumbai police are to be believed, more than 80% of the rape cases registered with them are committed by a person known to the victim and/or her family. According to the police, the reason behind criminals targeting women known to them is because they are easy targets.
The case in which a girl was raped by her cousin, boyfriend and two other men following which an MMS of the same was circulated, is just an example of many such cases. In an incident at Goregaon, a minor girl was raped and murdered by her neighbour, whose place she frequently visited and whom she helped with household affairs.
While children, especially daughters, are repeatedly told and conditioned to avoid interacting with strangers, how are they to be saved when the culprit is so close to the victim?
A police officer said, “Men from various parts of the country come here to earn a living. They live alone and women known to them are often sexually abused.”
“We think sex is not discussed in our society but people talk about it all the time behind closed doors. Television is another medium responsible for an increase in such cases,” said Jaywant Hargude, assistant commissioner of police (crime branch).
“Women who are known to men become the easiest targets in a city like Mumbai, which is full of strangers. There have been cases in the past where the victim has approached us after years of torment by a close relative or neighbour,” said a senior officer of the Mumbai police, who did not wish to be named.
City-based psychiatrist Harish Shetty said: “It is important to observe any discomfort on part of a girl, especially minors, in the presence of any known person. The discomfort indicates they are scared and have been threatened not to inform anybody. Also, parents should not send their children to a neighbour or relative who lives alone, however old they are.”
He added that women should react and alert their families immediately whenever they get any kind of undue affection or favour from anybody.