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Rise of false rape cases in India need to be dealt strongly says Delhi HC

Rise of false rape cases in India need to be dealt strongly says Delhi HC

Relevance

  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Vulnerable Sections || Women

Introduction

  • Rape/Sex crimes against women are on the rise due to various reasons. Although there are many laws available to safeguard women against such crime, they have failed to protect women in India.
  • The issues of violence against women continue unabated in India. While the Nirbhaya case still lives in our collective memory, on August 24, an MBA student was gang-raped near Chamundi hills in Mysuru.
  • In such incidents, the Apex court has been viewed as a saviour by the weak and marginalized groups. This is also true because of power asymmetry in a society where often police are seen to side with power holders.

Reasons for sexual crime problem in India

  • In recent years, New Delhi has earned the title of “rape capital” of India, with more than 560 cases of rape reported in the city, but violence against Indian women is widespread and has deep roots.
  • Few female police: Studies show that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. India has historically had a much lower percentage of female police officers than other Asian countries. In New Delhi, just 7% of police officers are women, and they are frequently given inconsequential posts that don’t involve patrol duty, according to the Times of India.
  • Blaming provocative clothing:There’s a tendency to assume the victims of sexual violence somehow brought it on themselves. In a survey, 68% of the respondents said that provocative clothing is an invitation to rape. In response to the recent gang-rape incident, a legislator in Rajasthan suggested banning skirts as a uniform for girls in private schools, citing it as the reason for increased cases of sexual harassment.
  • A lack of public safety: Women generally aren’t protected outside their homes. Many streets are poorly lit, and there’s a lack of women’s toilets. Women who drink, smoke, or go to pubs are widely seen in Indian society as morally loose, and village clan councils have blamed a rise in women talking on cellphones and going to the bazaar for an increase in the incidence of rape.
  • Stigmatizing the victim:When verbal harassment or groping do occur in public areas, bystanders frequently look the other way rather than intervene, both to avoid a conflict and because they on some level blame the victim. Male politicians contribute to the problem, making statements that make light of rape or vilify rape victims’ supporters.
  • Encouraging rape victims to compromise: Rape victims are often encouraged by village elders and clan councils to “compromise” with the family of the accused and drop charges or even to marry the attacker. Such compromises are aimed at keeping the peace between families or clan groups. What’s more, a girl’s eventual prospects of marriage are thought to be more important than bringing a rapist to justice.
  • A sluggish court system:India’s court system is painfully slow, because of a shortage of judges. The country has about 15 judges for every 1 million people. This leads to a delay injustice.
  • The low status of women: Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is women’s overall lower status in Indian society. The patriarchal mindset and feudal mindset has led to women being tagged as a burden and an object.

Issues associated with the Indian legal and socio-political system

  • Legal system: Our legal system records that rape survivors are routinely killed or kill themselves in protest. But the legal system does not take any action on the root cause.
  • Media: Media discourse on rape is mostly spectaculars and sensationalized for TRP ratings.
  • Society immediately starts focusing on anti-rape protests and not on the welfare of the victim. Further, society also put restrictions on women’s movements to prevent that from happening.
  • State response is focused on criminalizing anti-rape protests.
  • Victims are counter-cased and victimized further.
  • Judiciary: There is no Judicial inquiry on why the victims are imprisoned on false counter cases?

Laws and Measures to curb crimes /violence against women in India

  • Legislations
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
    • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence. It was brought into force by the Indian government and Ministry of Women and Child Development on 26 October 2006.
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
    • An Act to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures, or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
    • It is a legislative act in India that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
    • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 is an act to provide for the prohibition of solemnization of child marriages and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Child means a person, if male, has not completed twenty-one years of age and if female, has not completed eighteen years of age.
  • National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO )-The National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) will help law enforcement agencies investigate and track sexual offenders across the country.
  • Women Safety Division -MHA has established a Women Safety Division to coordinate various initiatives for women’s safety.
    • MHA has issued advisories to all State Governments/UTs, advising them to ensure a thorough investigation, prompt medical examination of rape victims, and increased gender sensitivity in the police.
  • ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. State Governments are thus responsible for the safety and security of the citizens including women and girls.
  • Nirbhaya Fund for Women’s Safety and Security Projects
    • One-Stop Center Program to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence in both private and public settings under one roof.
    • the ‘Universalization of Women Helpline Scheme’ and
    • the ‘Mahila Police Volunteers Scheme’
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 was passed to provide effective legal deterrence against sexual offenses.
  • Furthermore, the ‘Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018′ was enacted, making the punishment for offenses such as rape more severe by including the death penalty for rape of a girl under the age of 12 years.
    • The Act also requires that investigations and trials be completed within two months of each other.

What are the drawbacks of the anti-rape laws in India?

  • There is a growing concern over the potential abuse of the anti-rape laws.
  • Indian anti-rape laws only protect women from rape and sexual assault. They don’t provide security to men and transgender people.
  • These laws are limited and don’t have violence or coercion at their core.
  • Marital rape is still legal – unless the married couple is separated.
  • The politicians accused of the crime may remain in office and benefit from the slow justice system until convicted.

Way forward

  • A ruling by the Chhattisgarh High Court and the Kerala High Court, reiterating that any sexual act by a man against his wife, even if it involved force, is not rape. This can be course-corrected.
  • In the Aparna Bhat & Ors vs. State of Madhya Pradesh case, the Supreme Court accepted the “paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes that are regrettably reflected at times in judicial orders and judgments”. This has to be course-corrected by the judiciary by including more women judges.
  • Article 21 of our constitution ensures the right to live with dignity for women. Sexual crimes are against the right to live with dignity and violation of fundamental rights. Oppression in all of its forms is among the root causes of sexual violence.
  • Sexual violence is preventable through collaborations of community members at multiple levels of society in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith settings, workplaces, and other settings. We all play a role in preventing sexual violence and establishing norms of respect, safety, equality, and helping others.
  • Instead of curbing the freedom of women, society and the state must ensure the protection of women both in public and private places.
  • Awareness must be made at the grassroots level to both men and women about women’s rights.

Mains model Question

  • Laws alone cannot address the problem of rape in India. Comment.

References