Rape cases unlike any other crime bring more stigma to the victim than the perpetrator. Hence most of these cases go unreported. Even with number of reported cases the conviction percentage has been on a constant decline. In majority of rape cases, victim is known to the perpetrator. Social pressure, coercing from relatives – forceful or emotional leads to victims and/or witnesses withdrawing testimony. NCRB report shows that the conviction rate has fallen from 44.2% in 1973 to 22.5% in 2010.
So the picture definitely doesn’t look good. Why have we come to such a point? Is the law not competent enough to imbibe fear in the minds of perpetrators? Is the poor conviction ratio giving a boost to the Rapists ego that they will never be tried?
Let’s visit the IPC (Indian Penal code) to see for ourselves. (copied-rephrased from Internet, this isn’t a detailed version and is trimmed down with the intention of providing a basic introduction. The full version can be viewed at several websites for free.)
IPC defines Rape as a Man having sexual intercourse (penetration is sufficient) with a Woman under any of the below 6 circumstances.
1. Against her will. 2. Without her consent.
3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
5. With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
6. With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.
Exception- Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape. Strange but yes, IPC empowers a husband to rape his wife after she attains an age of 15.
Punishment: Rape is punishable under s.376, of the Indian Penal Code, according to which:
Any man committing a rape shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of at least 7 years but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.
This excludes the sentences handed out to public servants which include a Police officer, anyone appointed in police station and/or its premises, any other public servant, Child or women welfare institutions, anyone committing a rape on a pregnant woman, any hospital staff in hospital premises, or gang rapes (where each accused shall be deemed to committed a gang rape) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years and may be extended for life and shall also be liable to fine.
There are a few amendments lined-up which can be viewed at http://ncw.nic.in/PDFFiles/Amendments%20to%20laws%20relating%20to%20women.pdf .
All of these punishments fail to address one important point; these do nothing to take the pain away from the victim. Unlike any other crime involving violence, rape cases have affect the victim mentally more than physically, the effects of which are more dangerous and likely to last long.
The Delhi police asked women to be more modestly dressed to avoid getting raped. But there exists no report to suggest that a girl is a veil or purdah is less likely to be raped than one dressed in jeans or a skirt. Rather than asking the women to dress appropriately the police should’ve worked more on ensuring their safety and keeping the Apes roaming with a missile hanging between their legs ready to be launched on the first available target at bay. Yes, most common argument. But how many of us have shown the guts to save a girl being molested in public view. We’ve seen what happened in the Guwahati molestation case.
The khaps want marriage ages to be relaxed to 15 years so instead to raping strangers they ensure that one rapes his own wife. But wait a minute, who said married men don’t rape?
But when I read news about Fathers raping daughters, Son raping his mother, Teachers molesting student, Watchmen raping teens, a trusted colleague raping an unsuspecting friend, Master raping his servant, Servant raping master’s daughter, Relatives raping kin , I can’t come to think of any solution that can alleviate the situation.
Do I sound confused with what I am trying to write? No. I am not. Definitely not. But I am frustrated. The Frustrated Indian. One who begins his day with these sorts of news and can’t help thinking how this country is going to dogs.
What can we do to ensure a better living for our Sisters, mothers, daughters, kins or friends?
1. Proper education is a must. They must be taught to understand what their rights are. What doesn’t qualify as a friendly gesture and should know when to draw a line when dealing with such a person.
2. Counseling among young children is most important thing. Talking to your children about indecent behavior is not as bad as letting them get molested from a school peon, teacher, bus driver, watchmen, your maid, your relative or any other such unsuspecting person. Parental controls on what your children access on the internet, who they talk to, who they meet till a certain age is necessary. Proponents of privacy please stay away at this one.
3. At least one self-defense technique to be taught in schools.
4. Professional help to victims to get over the trauma, counseling and medical help by the government. Helping them start a new life by giving some employment / self-employment opportunities.
5. Change of mindset among us. There’s a lot of difference between a slut and a rape victim. We need to accept the victim. She’s the one who has suffered here and not the perpetrator.
6. Exemplary sentences to be awarded to imbibe some fear against this cruelty. The lack of it can be highlighted by the mere fact that Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s case is the only one that comes to my mind when death punishment was granted for rape. And it took 14 years to reach its end.
TFI also invites its readers to share if they can suggest/know-of some techniques/ways on how a girl can keep herself safe from the eyes of a predator or techniques/ways a girl can use when she finds her self in such a situation.
Together we can and will have to fight this evil for a better tomorrow for our own loved ones.
Image Courtesy: http://blogs.reuters.com
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