By Gajanan Khergamker

“We have all read the fable of a shepherd and tiger, the way media is cooking up rape stories, it would be difficult to believe even a genuine rape case,” is what Mamata Banerjee had said with regard to the spurt in rape cases in West Bengal. She claimed the media was to be blamed for the ‘rise’ in number of rape cases in her state. While it was, on the face of things, a political attempt to save face by placing the blame squarely on the media for its coverage, the slack in enforcement and failure on its part to protect women in the state is evident from official figures.

The National Crime Records Bureau figures indicate West Bengal, along with Andhra Pradesh, had registered record high rates of crime against women in 2011. According to the report, West Bengal accounted for nearly 12.7 per cent of total crime against women by reporting 29,133 cases. Also, of the 24,206 rape cases reported all over India, West Bengal registered a total of 2,363 rape cases in 2011, coming second to Madhya Pradesh which recorded a total of 3,406 rape cases.

So, when the CM charged the media with fabricating rape cases to such an extent the state is having a hard time sifting out ‘genuine’ rape cases from the lot of fake, she really needs to look at the  state’s ‘official’ dismal performance in the regard before making such comments.

When a state head, and a woman herself, talks loosely about a crime as heinous as rape by saying that representatives of the media with vested interest were paying women to file fake rape cases, it only dissuades the affected from coming forward and filing complaints for fear of it not being taken seriously.

After all, not every woman is as strong as P. Vasanthi who reportedly refused to buckle under pressure and ensured that her complaint mets its logical end. Tamil Nadu’s Theni District-based victim P. Vasanthi claims she was picked up along with her three-year-old son, from a bus stop by a policeman in the night and taken to a police station only to be assaulted and raped in front of her child.

That her complaints to the authorities went unheeded didn’t dissuade Vasanthi who dashed off a letter to DGP, National Human Rights Commission and the Women’s Right Commission.

Incidentally, she approached an NGO which helped her petition her case before Madras High Court. The NGO also helped her retrieve evidence of police brutality from the records of the prison medical officer and the Trichy government hospital through RTI applications.

It was revealed the doctors had attended to Vasanthi and recorded she bore multiple injuries, especially from her waist down to the legs. Also, the doctors, reportedly, found her face was swollen and left ear hurt on arrival.

Theni’s SP Praveen Kumar reportedly said he didn’t know about the RTI application but said they didn’t register her FIR because her complaint was baseless. The matter is still in court and is awaiting justice.

It isn’t for the first time that police officials in authority have been charged with misusing power to molest, assault or rape women. There have been convictions on the count, across states, as well.

So, when a politician like Mamata Banerjee makes public statements about women filing fake rape cases, it only lends an air of incredulity to the charge of rape itself and almost exonerates sexually-deviant officials who would continue to misuse authority.

A little earlier, Anna Hazare’s team member KiranBedi found herself in the news for a similar faux pas. She had, allegedly, said the media was not giving enough importance to serious issues of corruption but were giving coverage to “small rape” cases.

The retired lady IPS officer was flayed widely in the media for making light of an issue as grave as rape speaking volumes about much safety of women is given importance.

Apart from India, politicians across the world are known to make disparaging comments about women. Just a few days back, an US Republican was reported to have said ‘derogatory’ comment against rape which caused uproar in the US.

US Republican Todd Akin said “From what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy resulting from rape is) really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something, you know, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

Mamata Banerjee who seemed to have made a habit of claiming all rape cases in her city are fake had reportedly asked the media to see the ‘positive’ side of rape stories. She made this remark while speaking to the media following the rape of a Mumbai-based woman in a park. She claims that the “rape and murder” stories have been cooked up to “malign the government.”

So, from blaming women for enticing men into rape them, trying to figure if the rape was ‘legitimate’ or not, dismissing rape as a petty offence to stating women had made a ‘habit’ of filing fake rape cases and taking money for the same, sadly, seems to have become a favourite line for politicians and officials alike. A few years back, in Mumbai, when an inebriated More raped a teenager at a crowded Marine Drive police booth, it vindicated popular fears of a sexually-depraved lot on the loose and in the police force.

When a two-year-old girl is raped by her neighbour, would you blame her for ‘enticing’ him? Or absolve a father for raping his daughter to ‘satisfy’ his demands who says it’s the daughter’s duty to fulfil his needs?

(Readers keen on seeking help on draftingRTI applications may write in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Gajanan Khergamker on 022-22841593 for any assistance on RTI or to have their findings / issue featured here)