What lies behind... | Forum

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LetsHelpIndia May 14 '14, 07:19

From 1999 to 2004, Dr Rajat Mitra, director ofSwanchetan Society for Mental Health, studied closely the psychology of sex offenders in Tihar Jail, Delhi. Here he tells us what he found.

Can you tell us about the study and its findings?

We interviewed 242 people and they were all sex offenders, both under-trials and convicts. The primary criteria for speaking to an offender was that he had assaulted a girl, who was between 12 and 60. Initially, most said that they hadn't committed any offence, that they had been framed by the police. About 60 people in the study said this.

What we found was that for 70 per cent of the sex offenders, it wasn’t the first time they had committed a sex crime. They had committed assaults before but they were not caught. They only became cleverer, more organized and more expert at their crimes.

Was there fear of the death penalty among the offenders?

Not at all. The certainty of punishment is often more scary than the quantum of punishment. The rapist's mind works in a peculiar way. He gets a high from raping a woman like he gets from nothing else. Offenders would sometimes ask me what gave me pleasure. I would say when my daughter comes running towards me. At this, they would get very perplexed. For most of them, getting a high from relationships, from emotional bonds, is unthinkable. They only know how to get a high from assaulting a woman. And when they get a high like that, they are not thinking of a death sentence.

Why do we hear of so many rapes involving juveniles?

Relationships are becoming more and more complex and confusing for juveniles. Today’s juveniles can’t seem to manage relationships and so, using force seems much more attractive. One of the things they say is that if it feels good, it is alright. Many juveniles only want to have experiences at a bodily or sensory level. The attitude is very hedonistic, very pleasure-oriented. Inferiority doesn’t matter anymore and that is scary.

A recent UN study says that many men who have committed rape have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children. What do you feel?

I would agree with it to a certain extent. There are childhood factors that predispose people to be deviant. Even our study showed that—offenders had childhood experiences of trauma from parental abuse. Many offenders told us that their parents were very brutal and cruel and instilled terror in them. A significant number of the offenders also talked about going through sexual abuse as children, especially at the hands of boys.

What mechanisms can we adopt to prevent such crimes?

Today, when I see people saying hang the rapists, I find it very dangerous. It does not lead to the setting up of institutions and systems that are still not set up, like a better police, a more informed judiciary and rehabilitation programmes for sex offenders. Neither does it help in demystifying sexual assaulters.

It is important for parents and schools to educate about sexual assault and paedophilia. Not only is there silence around this, it is also a taboo topic that is spoken about only in a roundabout way. No! We need to talk about it in a direct way. Because that is the only thing that will come to a child’s rescue when he or she is faced with a threatening situation.

saloniarora May 23 '14, 09:24
really its horrific what we saw it today....i hope world is again safe for us..so that we don't have to live in constant fear

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