If a woman tells you she has been raped …

You are known in your locality as a helpful, practical and resourceful person. People consult you whenever they have a tricky problem, confident that, not only will you find a solution, you will also help them implement that solution.

One evening, a young lady, a school teacher who lives alone in the apartment above yours, telephones you and requests you to visit her house at any time convenient to you to discuss a personal and extremely private matter. She requests you not to tell anybody that she has contacted you. You meet her an hour later.

She informs you that she was raped that afternoon in her house. She refuses to disclose the identity of the person who raped her, saying she doesn’t want to make a police complaint since that would involve a lot of unpleasant publicity. She only wants you to help her by making arrangements for a medical examination, and follow-up treatment if necessary, by any good, known gynaecologist who can be relied upon to keep the matter in strict confidence.

You immediately telephone a gynaecologist known to you, who agrees to see the young lady immediately at her clinic. You offer to drive the young lady to the clinic in your car. She agrees.

During the drive to the clinic, you gently counsel the young lady that she should report the matter to the police. You explain that the fact that most rapists are not punished in any way gives them and other men a clear signal that they can rape with impunity. You assure her that lifetime concealment of the identity of rape victims is legally mandatory and offer to get a friend, who is a senior lawyer who has handled many such cases, to represent her. She says that she needs some time to think over the matter.

After completing the medical examination, the gynaecologist privately tells you that it is clearly a case of rape, definitely not consensual sex. She advises the young lady to file a police complaint. She also assures her that there will be no publicity. The young lady agrees to file a police complaint, provided your lawyer friend agrees to represent her.

You immediately telephone the lawyer, who agrees to see the young lady immediately at her office.

On the way to the lawyer’s office, the young lady informs you that she had been raped by your brother who lives in the apartment above hers.

Which of the following are you most likely to do?
a. Tell the young lady that she should meet the lawyer and file the police complaint, and assure her that you will continue to support her.
b. Tell the young lady that she should meet the lawyer and file the police complaint, explain that it would be delicate for you to be involved in this matter, and remain neutral from then on.
c. Tell the young lady that she should meet the lawyer and file the police complaint, explain that it would be delicate for you to be involved in this matter, and then actively assist your brother to get good legal help.
d. Request the young lady not to meet the lawyer and not to file the police complaint, and assure her that you will get your brother to make amends in the form of a generous cash settlement.

Please do not send me your answer. Please keep the answer to yourself.

If your honest answer is ‘a’ or ‘b’, good! If your honest answer is ‘c’ or ‘d’, ask yourself why you changed your mind.

Comments are welcome!

Other posts on Humanism and Sexual Harassment:
If a girl is being sexually harassed …
Thwarting sexual harassers, Reducing sexual harassment



12 thoughts on “If a woman tells you she has been raped …

  1. Now that you’ve done your duty as an alert citizen to the best of your ability by putting her on the right medical and legal experts, I firmly believe that you have done your duty to the hilt and that’s over and you can safely put it at the back of your mind!
    a. It is undoubtedly the absolutely right approach. Any sane person would do it!
    b. In my opinion there is no conflict of interest – even if the offender happens to be your brother, every crime has necessarily to be reported or you too may be held guilty of knowingly suppressing the truth – more particularly when you drove the victim to the gynae. and counsel. You have rightly asked her to lodge a complaint and this confirmed by the the lawyer.
    You don’t have to actively participate actively hereafter.
    c. You may or may not talk to your brother, the choice is yours. While you have is rightly guided the victim, what can you guide any offender who has knowingly transgressed with his eyes open?
    d. No way! No compromising or compensation however generous it may be. How can you ensure that he doesn’t repeat the offense when he knows that he can get immunity by paying money?

    A highly placed IPS cop rightly justified “encounter killing” by saying that it is indeed a pain guarding, parading to courts, feeding with biryani known terrorists and criminals who are beyond redemption. “Bumping them off” is the term that they use finishing them “killed in an encounter” !
    Permit me to add ‘e’
    e. Instead my cure for such offenders is immediate silent chemical castration, harsh it may seem, it is both a short as well as a long term solution to a fast spreading menace that is not largely reported.

    As a proactive Indian under no circumstances will you be a party to the suppression of such utterly unethical, immoral and illegal act.

  2. Really thought provoking, I honestly think I’d go with B. As for support for brother, you cannot but feel a certain sympathy for him & I’d yet support him but not in the way of obstructing justice.

  3. In the present scenario, honestly, I would ask her to go ahead and complain and fight for justice, severe all ties with my brother, may be help her to my best efforts, though not publicly, but I may not be able to support her completely for fear of losing my own people. Society, I damn care about. But, yes not all of the family can be put at stake. I know it is wrong, but I believe that’s what I’ll end up doing.

    That’s what we were discussing the other day. Our country hasn’t grown to a level where people appreciate rightfulness. And most of the times, the fear of family and society is the one that stops one from taking the right steps. Deep down people definitely respect the righteous ones, but still lack the guts to accept it openly.

    An honest answer to a powerful question.

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  5. If you were doing a street survey, most of them would come up with “A” as the answer. But in reality it depends on the affection and care you have for your own brother and to what extent you take yourself to help him out. “B” is an option for people who fear of losing own people. End of the day, when the heat is gone, settle with C or D.

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  10. You know, that is so deep?
    I think most likely, the initial response would change to, ‘Impossible! You are lying. I know my brother thoroughly.’
    It may even change to ‘You must have encouraged it in some way.’
    I’m not saying it is the ideal response, only stating what is most likely to be a normal human response to an unpleasant fact.

    We so often behave contrary to what we expect others to behave.

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