By Abdul Sattar Shaik
In the last few months, UP has witnessed a flurry of rape cases, like no other states. So, what is wrong with UP? Do rapists find it daring to rape any women in this state? Or it’s the law and law-patrollers of UP slack, to register a complaint to get the rapist held accountable for crimes such as rapes and bring them to justice. Most of the women in this country are paranoid if the laws of this county stringent enough to stop them from being preyed on. Let’s take a look at some of the vile incidents of rapes that took place over the years, and see what India has learned from them and how it has progressed when it comes to controlling rapes and how the problems of rape victims are unfolded after undergoing a rape and what reforms can be made?
It’s been exactly eight years now since the horrific rape of Nirbhaya took place. She was taken on board in the bus, while it was moving in the streets of the Indian capital. Where, she was repeatedly raped by five men along with a juvenile and grievously assaulting her to death, only to be thrown out of the bus to die on a highway in torment. Probably this was the first rape case in Indian history that engrossed so much attention from the entire nation, where emotions were pouring out in support of Nirbhaya for the horrendous atrocity she underwent, and the horrible treatment and abuses which women were facing in the Indian society, at the dawn of the 21st century,
This was the crime which doubted the very existence and safety of a woman in a country, where women are looked like a godly figure, and regarded sacred and worshiped in temples. Yet, their very safety looked rather abject and precarious, when it comes to rapes. There were a lot of protests and candlelight marches which were carried out on the roads and prominent places. The media was doing its best to not leave any episode without telecasting it 24/7 on their channels. And the political parties trying their best to play the blame game on one another.
Following year, the rape of a photojournalist who had gone to abandoned Shakti mills in the south of Mumbai, to take an assignment with her colleague; unfolded her tragedy of being gang-raped by five men and threatened of vilification by releasing her pictures, if she reports the incident. All the five perpetrators who then went absconding were arrested from different parts of the country. Three of the main accused from the five were later found to be repeated offenders, on the testimony of another victim who had undergone the same horror, at the hands of these culprits. They were all sentenced to death under section 37CE, which was introduced following the Delhi rape incident in 2012.
Then next, was the Bollywood style rape of a seventeen-year-old girl who was lured on the pretext of a job, to be moved to the city and then deviously being sold to high profile BJP MLS to prey on her. Later the victim was raped by his cons and was sold to a pimp for a price of 60000 rupees. The case kept trailing for a year, where the police were siding with the culprit because of his political status and did not name him in the FIR, the culprit assaulted the victim’s fathers who died in judicial custody days after the assault, which led to his arrest. The accused set up a car accident which killed two of her family members and injuring her lawyer in the car which they were travelling. The shamed MLA was convicted when there were widespread protests across the county and sentenced to life imprisonment.
As though things were not getting any better, then this county saw the rape of a 7-year-old innocent child from Kashmir, Asifa. Who was abducted from the jungles when she was out for grazing her livestock, sedated, and then gang-raped by an entire family for three days, before killing her by throwing boulders over her? The case sent shock waves across the country and worldwide, It stirred up a lot of attention in the Indian and international media, and there was a lot of condemnation from across the world from prominent people from the UN, demanding justice.
Last year, the rape case which made big headlines, was the Hatras rape tragedy, where a 19-year-old woman, belonging to the Dalit community, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted when she was in the fields, by men from an upper-caste Hindu faith. The case did not catch enough attention when the girl was hospitalized and being treated, only when she died, and her dead body was not given to the family members and instead burned down in police protection. It exploded like a bomb, and every media house wanted to sensationalize it, and the political parties too did create a lot of furore when the case became the talk of the town of entire India.
In the majority of the cases when the victim reaches the police station and tries to lodge a complaint, which in most of the cases are the poor, and lower castes, the police don’t register a case immediately. Instead, the victim is scrutinized and in worst cases doubted of being a woman of low character. This is the general perception of the male-dominated chauvinistic society in this country, where the police are no different than the society. The women in general are stigmatized for anything it has to do with their chastity, even when it was not by their willful cooperation.
It takes days and months, and going through an ordeal of circles from the inspector to sub-inspector, and then to validate the grievance of Injuries, backed by a medical report from a government hospital to register a formal complaint, accompanied by an acknowledgment slip to the victim. The case then advances into an investigation mode, where a few policemen investigate the site of the incident and relentless interrogation and questioning to the victim. And after much waiting, pleading, and roaming from nook to corner of the police station, an FIR may get registered against the culprit If you are lucky enough and if the police are fair enough and morally fulfilling their duties without being corrupted. But, if you have influence or if you are known to some political leader or someone from a high-ranking government officer, you may and your FIR may have to exempt this ordeal and your case will get registered within hours.
On average, there are about 100 rapes that are being committed daily in India according to the data given by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Now, the point of the matter is, how do we expect every case to deserve the kind of attention it gets like these four cases, and for the victims to get the justice they deserve? Only when the cases are bought to the media and public attention, they are being recognized and some form of justice is been provided to the victims and their family members. Although late, these cases have taken a course of time to bring forth justice, Better late than never! But, what about the cases which don’t fall under the public radar. What will be their fate? And who is going to decide their outcome, and will they ever reach the stage where they can be looked into as a rape case that needs to be brought to justice? Or will they get lost in the tall heaps of files in the police stations and courts? This is often the fate of most of the cases, where people either give up due to the arduous journey of fighting a case and the trouble they undergo. or by not having enough faith in our Judicial system.
The recent case of a 20-year-old girl Gulnaz from Bihar, who was burnt alive by a Hindu boy on the eve of Milad-un-Nabi, is an attesting example of this callous attitude and the selective narrative which the media and police have adopted. The case hardly came to light in the initial weeks of occurrence, and only when people started posting on social media, and the victim’s family staged a protest in the middle of the road with the dead body, did the incident grabbed the attention. Although few politicians did see this as an opportunity to blame the newly formed Bihar government, by shooting an arrow from their opponents’ shoulders, none have gone and met the victim’s family members and provided any condolence or moral support to them. It has been almost a month since the incident took place and still the culprits are on the run and none of the four people and the prime accused have been caught and taken into custody.
The rape of a woman who went to give a complaint in the Shahjahanpur police station of alleged gang rape was in turn raped by the police Sub-inspector who was listening to her case. This is an asserting example of the way how women are mistreated and taken for jest in the society, even to the extent of police who should be able to exercise law and be safeguarding the public, have become the predators, who look at women like sex slaves when they come to lodge complaints.
In a country where police are more particularly trained on the physical aspect and some of the most essential aspects of empathy are neglected. Police should be trained from the very beginning to be able to empathize with the victims when they come and give complaints, and this is where we lag at. As the west trains, the police not only to be valiant and tough but to be sensitive to people. There should be a more nuanced approach that needs to be employed by the police when it comes to dealing with and registering complaints.
The training should be ongoing as we see the culture in some other industries like IT (Information technology), where training is given paramount importance due to its ever-evolving nature and to keep employees be sensitive to issues like equality, harassment at work, racism and bullying. millions of dollars are spent on it. Since humans are the most important part of society, they should be treated well and especially women, and the police need to be trained to respect the victims, there should be a more professional environment in the police stations than an intimidating one which often is the case, where police officers lack the dignity and respect when someone comes to register a complaint.
Despite all the list of the case, two fresh cases of rapes which are making the headlines are the rape of a 50-year-old Anganwadi worker who has been brutally raped by a priest of a local temple along with his disciples who later murdered her and dropped her off at home and ran away. Two days before this horrific incident, a 19-year-old girl from Moradabad was raped at gunpoint and thrown off the terrace, sustaining grievous injuries to the victim and being treated in a hospital. This is the tragedy of being a woman in this country, where cows feel safe to roam on the roads and protected by self-proclaimed vigilante lunatics empowered to take the lives of Muslims on the pretext of eating meat and laws/Ordinances passed in parliaments in hallucination to protect them, but women still left to their misery.
The columnist holds an MSc in Engineering from the UK and can be contacted at email@example.com