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Mar 07, 2013 at 10:37pm IST

Shame in khaki: Indian policemen still blame women for sexual violence

Jaipur/Lucknow/Chandigarh: "Asli rape ek ya do per cent honge, 98 per cent sehmati hai (Actual rapes account for only one to two per cent of the cases, rest are all consensual sex)" - a policeman in Alwar, Rajasthan

- "Tang kapda, chhota kapda, make-up... zaahir taur pe nahin kahenge, par man hi man mein toh kuch kahenge" (Skimpy and tight clothes, make-up.. Men may not say anything on the face, but deep within they will) - a policeman in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan.

- "Ye jitna bhi gangrape hoga, who western style mein hi hoga... 90 per cent. Usi ke saath hoga jo western style mein hoga." (Western culture is to be blamed for rapes. Women in "western" clothes invite rape) - policeman in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh.

Bigoted, insensitive, and uninformed - that's the reality of our police. Posing as researchers, CNN-IBN reporters met over 50 policemen in over 25 police stations in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, encountering prejudice in almost every thana. Even as lawmakers consider stronger laws against sexual offences, most keepers of the law that we met insisted that a woman cannot be raped without her consent.

Whether it was in Alwar or Bhiwani or Meerut or Rohtak or Bulandshahar or Dausa or Panipat, the story repeated itself alarmingly in every state. Despite growing violence against women and protests over police apathy, some men in khaki still have a feudal mindset, asserting that it's the victims who invite abuse.

And moral judgments aside, there was even the shocking ignorance of the law. The police's 'consent' theory extends even to kidnapping. Most missing cases, the police told us, were cases of girls willingly running away with men.

When the police force chooses to view rape merely as consensual sex, when the autonomy of women makes our policemen uncomfortable, when prejudice routinely colours their view on crimes against women, you know our women are simply not safe.

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