Sociology Index

Sociology of Rape - Social phenomenon of rape

Sociology of rape is the study of rape or sexual assault has grown greatly since the late 1960s due to feminist activists and authors. Rape is a social harm directly touching a number of women and in many ways, impacts nearly all women. In Mill's terms, Rape is a social problem, or issue, that affects all of society.

We will challenge traditional patriarchal beliefs, and question current feminist thinking to try and find the most complete understanding of sexual assault. Sociology of rape will explore the causes of rape, theories trying to explain rape, the fear of rape which leads to social control.

Sociology of rape will delve into what research statistics can and cannot tell us, look at rape law reform as well as legal processing of rape cases, peek at the presentation of rape in different forms of media, and tiptoe through various contentious issues surrounding rape, including the current emerging debate in what is often the gray area in interpreting sexual conduct, the debate over date rape and the uproar over evolution theory. - Professor: John Hamlin.

From - Where women bore the brunt
THE HINDU Online edition of India's National Newspaper, Saturday, May 11, 2002 By Raka Roy
(The writer is Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley.)

Among the women surviving in relief camps are many who have suffered the most bestial forms of sexual violence, including rape, gang rape, mass rape, stripping, insertion of objects into their body, and molestations. A majority of rape victims have been burnt alive. - Citizens' Initiative, "The Survivors Speak,'' April 16, 2002.

From the report of the Citizen's Initiative fact-finding team of women. The report, a useful contribution to sociology of rape, makes it clear that young Muslim girls, pregnant women, women with new-born babies were chased, caught, raped, cut, pierced, stabbed, and burnt. How did this come to pass? How did groups of men come to believe that such deeds could and should be done?

It is the belief that women are not only inferior but also woman's sexuality has to be patrolled so that it is legitimately accessible to some men and inaccessible to others. Witness the spate of murders of women who dare marry outside their community. Sometimes she realises too late that her body may be torn apart and destroyed because she has dared to love another human being without permission. A woman's body ultimately belongs to her community not to herself.

As Urvashi Butalia, Ritu Menon and Kamala Bhasin have shown, the Us and Them feelings of communities during Partition created protected and protectable women on one side and unprotected and rapable women on the other side. The populations were identified at Partition and then stored in the collective memory to be whipped into frenzy when necessary.

For communal rapes on a mass scale we need still other conditions, the most important of which is a complicit state. This means we must have police who laugh or join in, leaders who blatantly discriminate and lie, and courts, which do not prosecute.