When you think of countries with the worst rates of rape, the United States is probably not your first thought. More likely, India tops that list or is at least on it. But this is very wrong. The U.S. is actually the worst country globally for rape cases — a lot worse.
To really get a sense of how much worse it is in the U.S. than it is in India, let’s look at the facts. In 2011, out of a population of 1.2 billion — with a “b” — 24,206 rapes were reported. That same year, the U.S. had 83,425 reports of rape even though our population is 300 million, according to More.com.
The amount of rape cases that go unreported wouldn’t make a difference either, as the percentages of these cases are roughly equal for both countries: over 60 percent in both cases, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates.
To make matters worse, the U.S. has a measly conviction rate as well. The conviction rate is determined by the percentage of rapists that are put on trial and convicted for their crimes. Time Magazine reports that in India, the conviction rate is 24 percent. Yet, in the U.S., only 2 percent of rapists will get convicted for their crimes, RAINN reports.
Despite India’s new laws about rape — including harsher punishments for perpetrators and more resources for rape survivors — the differences between India and the U.S. are arbitrary. Rape is a serious global issue that needs to be addressed in all locations equally. When looking at the symptoms of rape in a society, it’s largely the same no matter where you are.
For example, in both the U.S. and India, the vast majority of rape victims knew their rapists before the crime — 98 percent in India and 82 percent in the U.S., according to Wonderslist and RAINN. In both countries, rape predominantly happens to women, victims are negatively stigmatized and shamed and physical and mental health consequences are the same.
I could continue on and on. No matter how it’s cut, the issue is the exact same. Arguments about India being more rural, or that more rapes in the United States happen at drunken parties or such, are rooted in false biases that only serve to convolute the issue.
There is positive side to this: the solutions. The solutions taking place in the U.S. largely work in India as well: treating the crimes as serious criminal offenses, encouraging accurate reporting on the issue, educating citizens on the effects of victim blaming. These are all programs that yield positive results which are happening now both here and there.
And we should implement India’s solutions, like adding more female police officers into the force. Ultimately, this is not just an Indian issue or an American issue. It’s an international issue that also applies to a local level. Only by working together, with other cultures and countries, can we make the world safer for our women, everywhere.