The State of World Population Report suggests that In India
1. A Rape is committed every 54 minutes;
2. Molestation every 26 minutes;
3. Kidnapping or abduction every 43 minutes;
4. Eve-teasing every 51 minutes;
5. Dowry death every 1 hour 42 minutes;
6. Criminal offense against women every 7 minutes.
Rape is a crime not only against the body of an individual but also against one’s mind, psyche and reputation. The rapist can be questioned only if he is caught but the raped is questioned at every stage by every strata of the society. The victims have experienced that the police is often reluctant to lodge their complaints. Even if the complaint is lodged, the justice is far from being delivered. In courts circumstantial evidence is highly relied upon. The defense always supports the theory that the intercourse was with mutual consent.
In various cases the absence of injury has been considered as a proof of consent by the courts. Victims are forced to lay every slight detail of the incident which may not be possible. Mostly the facts are presented in an inappropriate manner which often leads to the acquittal of the accused.
In traditional society like ours raising voices against any crime of sexual orientation is considered a taboo. Many girls have witnessed oppression from their own family members in such instances. A rape victim needs a lot of courage to bring the matter into notice. But the agony does not end here. It is continued at every stage whether it is medical treatment, lodging of F.I.R or even attending a trial. The entire system is harsh to her. Time and again some N.G.Os have provided the victims both financial and psychiatric support but practically they are unable to help all of them.
The accused may be known or complete strangers. The crime of date rape has increased significantly in the past few years. Not to forget the rape committed by one’s own relative (including fathers and husbands) and those committed by stalkers, taxi drivers, guides and co-workers. Statistics suggest that in about 7 percent of the cases, fathers or other intimate members of the family or close relatives were themselves the offenders. About three-fourth of the offences were the result of offence by Neighbours and other persons known to the victims. Only one-eighth of the offences were committed by strangers. Reports have also shown that when a married woman is raped, she looses her love for husband and bond with the family. This effects not only her but her children and husband as well.
Imrana was asked to marry her rapist father in law as a viable solution put forth by the religious protagonists. Instead of punishing the culprit they decided to reward him. What kind of justice is this?
The offense of rape declares a punishment not less than 7 years which may extend up to life imprisonment too. But a husband who rapes his wife who is below 12 years of age is only liable for an imprisonment which may extend up to 2 years or fine or both. The Indian law doesn’t recognize the crime of marital rape yet. Also there is no section in IPC which punishes boys under 16 years of age for committing rape. They can be prosecuted only under Section 377 (Unnatural Offences) of I.P.C.
The infamous case of Hetal Parekh indeed deserved capital punishment for the accused Dhananjoy Roy who not only raped 14 year old Hetal but also brutally murdered her. His plea to the president for remission of sentence was rejected by Mr APJ Abdul Kalam. The decision was welcomed by almost everyone in the country.
There is an urgent need of speedy trial for such cases. It may be done by introducing a separate legal system for such sexual offenses. Medical help must be provided to the victims which should include counseling and vocational training (in cases where the woman has be out casted from the society and has no means sustenance). The same can be provided by state fund. The fine for such offenses must not be kept nominal.
If the medical examination is not conducted within 48 hours of rape the offense is very difficult to prove. Most of the females are unaware of this and in order to get rid of the physiological scars they take bath before medical surveillance. Awareness programs must be conducted to demonstrate what a victim must do in case of rape. Moreover keeping in mind the mental state of the victims a female doctor must be appointed for the examination.
The recent amendment in Criminal Procedure Code(Cr.pc) is a very optimistic step. Now such cases have to be presented before a female judge. A more effective witness protection scheme is also being guaranteed. The statements of the victim would be recorded at their house or some other safe place preferentially in presence of a female officer. A female may engage a lawyer to help the prosecution with prior permission of the court. The investigation has to be completed within three months from the date when information was recorded by the officer in charge of the police station. Protection of the victim’s identity, maintaining the confidentiality of the name and address of the parties, camera trials and conduct of trials by a woman magistrate are also provided in the amendment.
This is a duplication of author's post on legaldrift.