Study finds 98% of India rape victims knew their attacker.

Indian women are asked to stay at home to prevent stranger rapes that happen in public spaces to women who do not follow Indian culture? This puts women at risk from not being able to fight back 98% of sexual crimes against them – committed by some one they know, frequently inside or close to where they live or work.

Link shared by RenKiss : Study finds majority (98%) of India rape victims knew their attacker. Thanks RenKiss.

What is Stranger Rape Myth?

That most rapes happen outside victims’ homes in lonely or dark places, where women’s clothing or behavior (etc) ‘gets them raped’.

And what does this study indicate prove?

That most sexual assaults are not crimes of impulse, and that 98% rapists know who they are going to rape, and why they are likely to get away with the crime.

Sexual criminals in India know they are generally safe. Until recently they knew almost everybody would come in their support and the victim would be silenced with shaming and blaming.

Stranger rape myth puts women at greater risks because it controls women’s freedom and movement (victims are not free or empowered to leave an unsafe place) and Voices (who do they approach without fear of being blamed).

Because of the Stranger Rape Myth there is no effort to ensure that women and men understand that the law acknowledges that everybody’s bodies and lives and sexuality belong to themselves; and most people have never heard that no matter who else they have consensual sex with and no matter how attractive the rapist finds them, nobody has the right to sexually harass, molest or assault them.

Here’s a quick look at some recent sexual crimes. None of these are ‘stranger rapes’. Each rapists knew they were unlikely to be reported or punished.

If these victims took traditional advice to prevent sexual assaults,

How far could wearing sarees or staying at home after dark have protected any of these rape victims and survivors?

Which of these rapes could have been prevented if the rapists knew they would certainly be reported and punished?

1. Mentally ill woman raped by 3 over a period of time – The matter came to light when the victim’s brother came to know during health check up of his mentally ill sister that she is six-months pregnant… the victim revealed the incident only… after her brother convinced her to name the accused.[link]

Would you say this is a natural reaction of innocent men who get provoked when they find a woman attractive?

2. Minor girl set afire for resisting rape – “The girl alleged that Soni [the rapist] caught her while she was in the fields and tried to rape her. After she raised an alarm, Soni torched her and fled from the spot,” [link]

Rapists know that sexual crimes are not taken seriously.

3. Around 11 minor girls in a residential school were allegedly being raped since the last two years by the watchman and a contractual teacher… The local Panchayat had complained about the incident to the local administration six months ago, but they did not take action… [link]

Knowing the victim has no voice encourages crimes,

The girl told her classmates about the incident but nothing could be done as the students were not allowed to go out and the main gate of the Sevashram was locked. [link]

The only thing that could control these crimes was fear of consequences. 

4. Doctor booked for raping woman in hospital

Mumbai doctor on run after allegedly raping 27 year old girl in clinic

If victims felt safe outside their homes, if they knew their rights and if they had voices, would these rapists be so fearless?

5. Father arrested for rape-cum-murder of minor daughter

13-year-old girl allegedly raped by father, brother, uncle in Kerala

Click here to watch the video.

Woman hangs self after being raped by own brother in Madhya Pradesh

Teenage girl who committed suicide was raped

Like this godman, all rapists are criminals who know social norms  (basically Rape Culture) favor and support them. He is another one of the 98% rapists who knew the victim.

6. Godman held for raping woman


47 thoughts on “Study finds 98% of India rape victims knew their attacker.

  1. Everyone knows this, but no one is willing to accept that most rapists are near and ‘dear’ ones. It’s a mass denial in this country, and anyone raising this question is accused of thinking ‘dirty’.


    • Neighbors, employers, boy friends or ex boy friends, relatives, business associates, colleagues, class mates, teachers, head masters, tuition teachers… but only 2% cases are of strangers looking for someone to rape, and these ones frequently have previous history of molesting or raping, they too have no fear because they know who is going to be blamed.


    • Gosh.. I’m really speechless. I can’t even relate to the study. Is our family/power structure so troublesome for women? I can’t seem to think of anyone in my extended family or my friend’s circle who’d behave like this.

      I just don’t know what to say! 😮


      • The study includes family members, but also anybody known to the victim, husband, in laws, cousins, neighbours, teachers, boy friends, employers, or just acquaintances – not strangers.
        This means the myth that women are unsafe outside and safe inside their homes/neighbourhood needs to be corrected. A powerful voice and awareness of one’s rights is the best protection against all abuse , not being shepherded indoors after 8 pm, and not being segregated in educational institutions (etc).


      • “I can’t seem to think of anyone in my extended family or my friend’s circle”

        You know, these things really are hidden and shushed. Every woman I have ever discussed this with knows someone in her extended family or family friend circle who tried to molest her or her friends/ siblings/ cousins. I know some in my extended family as well. As a man, you probably find this difficult to relate to because even if it happened in your ‘circle’, it probably never got to you.


      • Niketan,
        Many of us who contribute here come from privileged backgrounds – we faced prejudices and biases and stereotyping, but on a much more subtle level. Women from a privileged background have more of a voice, so when they object to the first action that’s ut of line, it may not go further than that. The more economically disadvantaged the people are, and the more rural the setting, the worse the power structures. Here women are mute and invisible. Also it depends on which state you’re in. Rajasthan, Haryana, UP, MP take the cake in terms of women’s oppression.

        Also Carvaka is right – when it does happen in educated, privileged families, people don’t talk about it. We prefer denial and hushing up. Then people start believing “It only happens to THEM.” “Them” is this vague set of outsiders we create in our minds that are weird and different from us.


    • It certainly is a case of denial. In a way, it’s a lot more scary to think someone you trust and know could commit such a crime. Thus far, in my time of volunteering with victims of rape, 9 times out of 10 the victim knew their attacker. I specifically recall one incident with a woman who was in her mid 30’s who was raped by her husband’s best friend. They had known each other for years and I’m not sure what had hurt this woman more. The fact that she was raped or the fact that this crime was committed by someone she knew and trusted.


  2. I once read about a similar study in the IndianExpress – “In more than 90% of rape cases – its the fathers raping their daughters”. It was a long time ago – and no matter how exaggerated it sounds – I somehow feel it could be true. After all – with the kind of social dynamics in this country its not easy to report such crimes.


    • What the heck?? Am I having nightmares after too much vodka?

      I think this behavior is limited to totally dysfunctional families, which I’d presume isn’t typical of mainstream families? Of course, I agree there should be a way to report this, but I’m hoping this isn’t more common than I hope it is


        • My comment only pertained to Mir’s comment where she said in 90% cases, its the father who rapes the daughter. IHM and anon.coward’s comments are answering a different question.

          In cases where a father rapes the daughter, I’m sure its not a isolated problem pertaining to just the girl being raped, I’m sure the family is dysfunctional beyond that. Essentially, I’m asking if in such cases, the issue is one beyond women’s issues? Maybe its substance abuse or alcoholism or something that is causing these women to be abused? Agree there is no reason to abuse a woman, but I think we are seeing things too much in isolation here.

          Looking at the number of dislikes to my previous comment, I think I’m either not writing clearly, or folks aren’t understanding what I’m saying and being a bit reactionary.


      • If a family member rapes another member of the family, then the family will be classified as dysfunctional. But a rapist can be outside family also. The important thing is he is known to the victim most of the time and this isn’t India specific it’s a world wide issue. Unfortunately the abuser being known to the victim causes more emotional damage, denting victim’s psyche that makes it very difficult even impossible for her to trust anyone.


  3. Rapes within the family happen in context of kinship structure that is based on both jovial and respect avoidance. Societies permit certain sexual overtures within non married genders in the families look at the folk songs and folklore. Jija sali (with wife’s sister); dewar bhabhi (with younger brother’s wife), mami bhanja (with wife of your maternal uncle) these are all jovial relationships where as jeth (husband’s brother), woman’s father-in-law, nandoi (husband’s sister’s husband) are all respect avoidance but the dynamics of sexual exploitation in the avoidance give it more power and authority over the younger woman. Then there is uncle (phoopha) father’s sister’s husband communities have been known of marrying woman and her niece to the same man because there was dearth of eligible bachelors. Then we know of some south Indian communities marrying daughters to their maternal uncles (mama). In the former cases woman is accused as enticer where as in the later she is disbelieved for people in authority are respected and it is her duty to avoid them. Sister’s husband has most favorable outcomes because wife is dispensable once untimely dead or unable to reproduces natal families readily replace her with her younger sister (not older even if she is unmarried).

    With so much permissible sexual tension there are greater chances of sexual assaults on unsuspecting young women. It is amusing in theis culture thrive ultimate role modles and dichotomy if Sita and Laxman have ideal relationship then there are lewd folk songs underlining this relationship in folk life. Families have only one solution to this problem keep daughters away from these relations, cover them in veil (ghoonghat) and prevent them from making an eye contact with these relations.or ask them to make invisible in the presence of these relations.

    Then there is a whole section of cousins that are brushed off as boys will be boys. Here Aradhana explains it how.

    Desi Girl


  4. Somehow, the results of this study are not surprising. Given the power structures we have in traditional families, abuse of power is inevitable. I recently visited Rajasthan for the first time – the women covered their heads and faces all day, cooked and served the family all day, and did not dare exchange a word with their own husbands. The women only talk among themselves. Reporting a crime in this scenario seems almost impossible. Yet a few brave women from these kinds of settings are starting to do it, at the risk of being beaten, burnt, or killed.

    All the way across the globe in Canada, an Indian Canadian reporter recently came out and confessed that her uncle had been molesting/abusing several little girls in the family for years. Having lived in a tightly knitted traditional Indian community, she remained silent for the longest time out of a sense of shame and protecting her family’s honor. Astonishing how culture can have such a strong hold despite education, exposure, and an environment where such crimes are recognized and penalized.

    This culture of silence is ingrained in us at a very young age – if you don’t talk about, it’ll go away. But we are finally breaking through the silence. We are finally talking about it. More and more women (and their men – fathers, brothers, husbands) are now reporting crimes.


    • I wonder why we are not hearing more about these statistics in the news and everywhere else? There is so much demand to save the culture/tradition to prevent rapes, and no demand for analyzing and understanding what these results indicate?


      • I think our media is a tad immature – not that media elsewhere is better – but ours is still evolving. We often have a case of doing the trendy thing, then forgetting all about it. We have more crimes being reported and covered but not followed by substantial analysis. Introspection is needed. A handful of editors and writers are doing it. When we dig deep into our culture, we may not like what we see. If I say the smallest thing against Indian culture in a group of Indians (very educated, successful ones), the conversation immediately shuts down. Awkward glances are exchanged, slowly the topic gets changed. The focus is more on individual accomplishment rather than larger sociological issues that affect all of us. Perhaps, same thing with the media? Short attention span and discomfort with the truth? Unless problems get acknowledged, problems don’t get solved.


        • This is why we call ours a Rape Culture. I heard some MP minister/somebody else, a woman, on national television, say somethings are best left covered and not talked about! Wish I could find that video.


  5. Shocked ! I knew most rape cases in India were from within the known circle. But 98% is a staggering figure. So here is how I discern this information.
    1. Its a big let down on claims of holding the actions of women responsible for getting themselves raped. No more can our Govt & (ir)responsible authorities hide from their responsibilities, by blaming women for these crimes.
    2. The conviction rates should be higher as identification of accused must be easier. Police needs to answer this.But I have lost my faith in our Police Dept already so I don’t care much.

    In short, we are at square one with a deaf govt and helpless citizens. Lets stop our blabber and do some brainstorming over what can actually be done to shake our status quo and make this country safer for women.
    1. Rape/harassment victims obviously find it difficult to raise voice. How can we help them do so. Will special women helplines work?
    2. Can tele-counselling be provided to such victims, thereby preserving their anonymity and making it easier for them to reach out for help.
    3. Sex education is considered a taboo even in urban India. Most children figure out “uncomfortable people and sleazy talks” but do not understand how to handle such situations and who or how to approach someone for help. They are even shy to talk to their parents about this.(The blame is squared on parents here) Can we have phone numbers of counselors/professionals to be given to them at school to make the approach easier? .
    4. We rallied in New Delhi (Gurgaon in my case), shouting slogans at out brazen Govt to improve the condition of women in India. And we failed, because we did not have any clear agenda. We did not ask them to carry out specific actions that they could and prove their allegiance to the masses. I remember few students from the crowd were called by the govt with promises of action but when asked for the demands they couldn’t give them anything solid. Blanket statements never help the cause. So next time we rally, lets be prepared and ask the right questions such as:
    a. Sex education and personal safety be included as standard course in CBSE textbooks for children.
    b. Topics like Behavioural ethics and women empowerment be made part of curriculum for grown ups.
    c. Seperate fast track courts be set for rape and sexual haressment cases.
    d. Number of solved cases on women issues be given weightage in yearly KRA of Police.( Money trumps beliefs too ! )
    e. Newly inaugurated women’s cell should make its statistics public on a website. Do these thunders ever rain?
    e. CCTV be installed in public buses and trains.
    5. Free food at school doesn’t encourage rural parents to send their wards, specially girls, to schools. Every child at school is one laborer less in the field and is one penny less off the day. How can we change this? Will “free food for the whole family if children sent to school” trick work ?
    6. Will arming our girls with tasers or pepper sprays help the cause? This is one big debate in itself and has its own complications. But what do you think?
    Let me know what are your ideas. What should we do? How will it change? Please don’t tell me that “it will change when we change” or stuff like “when men learn to respect women, we will change for good”. Because like it or not, its not gonna happen out of the blue. This is like saying, “when we stop harming people and learn to live peacefully, this earth will become heaven”. Never gonna happen.These advises look rosy but are impractical. So please let flow of your thoughts.
    This blog is a great place with great minds at a noble goal. I am sure we will have lots of good, practical ideas if only everyone contributes. Together, we can make this country a better place to live in.


    • a. Sex education and personal safety be included as standard course in CBSE textbooks for children.

      IHM: I wouldn’t call it ‘personal safety’ – but it’s good for children to know that their bodies belong to them and nobody has a right to touch them (or anybody else) in ways that makes them feel uncomfortable.

      b. Topics like Behavioural ethics and women empowerment be made part of curriculum for grown ups.
      IHM: Gender studies – yes it should be taught in school.

      c. Seperate fast track courts be set for rape and sexual haressment cases.
      IHM: Certainty of punishment is the only way to control sexual crimes in India.

      d. Number of solved cases on women issues be given weightage in yearly KRA of Police.( Money trumps beliefs too ! )
      IHM: Police should simply be told that their job is to investigate every case, and not attempt to moral police or molest the women of this country. Many in the police do not know what ‘rape’ is – it should be required of them to know the law, which is a little different from their frequently khap or manumriti like beliefs.

      e. Newly inaugurated women’s cell should make its statistics public on a website. Do these thunders ever rain?
      IHM: Yes statistics should be made public and analyzed and understood and used for the benefit of the society.

      e. CCTV be installed in public buses and trains.
      Should be helpful.

      5. Free food at school doesn’t encourage rural parents to send their wards, specially girls, to schools. Every child at school is one laborer less in the field and is one penny less off the day. How can we change this? Will “free food for the whole family if children sent to school” trick work ?

      6. Will arming our girls with tasers or pepper sprays help the cause? This is one big debate in itself and has its own complications. But what do you think?
      IHM: Could help in some situations, but it can be snatched away or used on the woman too. A voice (figuratively) is sometimes more powerful than a pepper spray. Generally, nobody would dare to abuse a woman/girl child in his family/social circle/work place if he knows that she knows she has rights and support, and she would not be blamed for provoking the abuser. Silence and helplessness of the victims empowers abusers. Women should be able to complain/report sexual harassment without fear of being blamed, maybe with objective investigations – that would work.


    • @Pallav,

      All your suggestions are what we have been pushing for in my 20+yrs in this field.
      Until there are no immediate detrimental consequences people do not deter. The consequences have to be both physical, financial and social. Incarceration, heavy monetary fines and outing like in sexual predator registry are the only. Least families of the perpetrators are also made to pay socially people’s mindset is not going to change that is the only way to challenge “boys will be boys.”

      National and state sex offender registry is the need of the hour. It should be like a tattoo on the forehead “I am a rapist” or just “rapist.”

      As people are now challenging victim blaming we have to also start outing sex offenders and their families if they support them. Social isolation is the tool for perpetrators of crimes against women and children not victims.

      People are more than willing to give their daughters to rapists and dowry murders so where is the need for them to change?

      Hope this leads to some constructive discussion.
      Desi Girl


      • Yes ! Good point. The taboo of being an offender should be carried by the perpetrator not the other way round. And you are right, families supporting such goons are equally responsible.


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