India’s Rape Crisis

India’s Rape Crisis

Revathy Menon

The horrors of the Kathua and Unnao rapes shook the conscience of all right thinking people. Close on its heels comes the horrific news of a 22 year old married woman from Chandigarh being allegedly assaulted sexually by at least 40 men over a period of 3 days. This happened in The Morni Hill area of Haryana’s Panchkula district. The victim is believed to have gone to a farm house as she had been promised a job opportunity by an acquaintance. The offer of a cleaning job for a good salary had lured the young woman there. She was given a drink laced with a sedative. The acquaintance and the other assaulters then took advantage of her and raped her repeatedly it is alleged.

Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajender Kumar Meena said that 3 of the accused have been arrested so far and investigations are underway. The police are on the lookout for the culprits of this heinous crime. The victim was taken to the farm house on July 15 and somehow managed to escape from there on July18. When she recounted her ordeal to her husband and family, they immediately approached the police. The women’s police station in Panchkula refused to register the case and so they approached the Chandigarh police where the case was registered. The victim’s statements were recorded under Section 164 of CrPC before a magistrate on Thursday. Medical examination has confirmed the gang rape. Further action is awaited.

Time and again news of rape hits the headlines and then is soon forgotten. The rapists seem an emboldened lot who do not fear the law as any action against them is slow and distant. It is imperative that the government sets severe and stringent measures to deal with rape; not just of minor girls as in some states of India, but against all perpetrators of this crime. A random hanging here or a life imprisonment there hardly makes any impact. If women are to be safe in a society, the law and order must be given paramount importance. And that is where successive Indian governments are failing, failing the women.

This is also the reason why the public tends to take law into its own hands as was seen in the recent rape case of an 11 year old in Chennai. 18 of the accused were thrashed by the public. The accused were all working in the apartment where the little girl lived-lift operator, plumbers, water suppliers. It is alleged that they sedated the young girl and took her to a vacant apartment where they took turns and raped her. She was threatened and out of fear kept quiet. Finally she confided in her elder sister and then the family reported the matter to the police. The infuriated public attacked the accused and lawyers have refused to appear for the accused.

How do we check this malaise? Have we become a benumbed lot? What good any development plans when basic civility is not practiced in society? Is this our great heritage that is being flaunted around every day? What culture are we boasting about when our girls and women are being raped and killed? What bigger shame than a Swiss mother fearing to send her young athlete daughter to India for fear that she maybe assaulted here?

As more and more rapes are being reported today, the urgency to make reforms and punish the guilty is also growing. According to National Crime Records Bureau [NCRB] rape is the fourth most common crime in India. While the recorded number of rapes in 2012 was 24,923, it rose to 34,000 by 2015. India is reeling under a rape crisis with 106 rapes a day. The number of rape cases has doubled between 1990 and 2008. It has been recorded that 4 in 10 cases are minors and rapists are most often relatives or people known to the family.

Till 2016 only one in four rape cases in India ended in conviction. India’s conviction rate for rape is abysmally low at 25.5%. Will matters improve and justice prevail is what all enlightened beings look forward to.