Today, our society boasts about technological developments that man could have never imagined and yet in this modern day society women aren’t respected. Apart from the many heinous crimes that are committed, our woman today face a fate worse than death – The possibility of being sexually abused, harassed or raped! All the crimes make me wonder – have we seriously become sophisticated? Have we lost our barbaric ways? Or do we just claim to evolve. Do we have rights to speak about being modern and having equality when in real life we do not really preach it? I think we should have a reality check. The Delhi gang rape and the 24,923 rape cases registered in 2012 have once again proved that in our society, women are no longer safe and perpetrators of crime walk free on the streets.
In the Nirbhaya case, the victim and her friend were sitting on the roads waiting for somebody to help them. Auto-rickshaws, cars and even pedestrians chose to ignore them. Finally, somebody called the police. Even though three PCR Vans arrived, the police was fighting between themselves, deciding whose jurisdiction the case comes under. They did not provide clothes to the victims and did not bother to call an ambulance. The friend who was severely injured had to carry the victim to the PCR van. Not one police officer offered help. Instead of taking them to close-by hospitals, they were taken to a hospital far away.
Not a single citizen was ready to help them. However, I feel that part of the fault also lies with police. If a person did offer help, he would become a witness and the police would make his life miserable. If time had not been wasted, and she had been rushed to the hospital immediately then she might have been alive today! All this happened in the streets of Delhi, passing through a couple of Police outposts. If people cannot walk freely on the streets of India’s capital, where can they?
This brutal incident is just one of the 18,359 rape cases registered in India in the first three quarters of 2012. Our politicians have condemned these acts from time to time. The Prime Minister spoke a week after the incident. He started by saying that he was the father of three daughters he felt extremely concerned and sorry. However, ironically a common man suffers in Delhi because of the huge amount of security given to the VIPs. He knows very well that his daughters cannot be attacked because of the security they have. The same applies with other politicians such as Sheila Dixit, our Home Minister – Sushil Kumar Shinde, Sonia Gandhi and others. Delhi has nearly 80,000 police officers and a large faction of police officers is serving the VIPs. The number of officers serving the VIP’s adds up to nearly 45,000. The government of India have revealed that 15 people in the country have been provided Z-Plus security with over 500 commandos of the National Security Guards deployed for this task. In India, security is provided to high-risk individuals depending on the threat perception to the person, the category is divided into four tiers: Z-Plus, Z, Y and X. Z-Plus category is the highest level of security cover. Persons under this category of security are entitled to round-the-clock personal security, which include, 28 National Security Guard commandos, an escort, a pilot and tailing vehicles, Cobra commandos and 12 home guards. L. Advani, Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and many Chief Ministers are provided such protection. Enhanced security for many politicians has always been under the scanner. Nearly Rs 400 crore a year is being spent on such security measures. Do VIPs need such cover at the expense of the common man? Alas, the common man has been forgotten!
Before going into the prevention of rapes, the root causes of this heinous crime should be analyzed. Exposure to trauma and violence in childhood are one of the causes. This is mainly because of illiteracy, poverty and delay in prosecution and hence Indian judiciary making a fool out of itself. The lower class women are not aware of their rights and even if they are abused, do not fight back. Children often see their mother’s being hit by the father and start getting ideas about masculinity. Patriarchy and popular ideas about masculinity give men an expectation of powerfulness both over women within a broader social context. Hence, rape provides an experience of power over women. Men view women as sexual objects, who should be conquered. Moreover, the conviction rate of such offenders is so delayed and low that there is no fear left in the society. More than 68,000 rape cases have been registered from 2009-11, but only 16,000 have been convicted.
Yet another cause is corruption among the police. Despite an attempt to eliminate corruption by ways like increased salaries, upgraded training, incentive for education, and developing policies that focus directly on factors leading to corruption, it still exists. The Priyadarshini Mattoo case is a classic example of police corruption. Priyadarshini Mattoo, a law student was raped and murdered by Santosh Singh, the son of an IPS officer in 1996. The trial judge and the High Court agreed that under the influence of Santosh’s father J P Singh the police had manipulated the probe in the initial stages to help the accused. The Delhi High Court criticized the Delhi police “for absolute dereliction of duty”. Police officials ignored several complaints made by the victim during 1994-1996 against Santosh Singh for stalking and harassing her. Lalit Mohan, the Inspector was instrumental in creating false evidence and false defense for the accused. The witnesses of the police including a Sub-Inspector deposed falsely. The judgment held the CBI responsible for unfair investigation and failure to produce Virender Prasad, Mattoo’s household help, which resulted in the obstruction of justice. The police had claimed Prasad had gone missing and was not traceable, yet in the aftermath a journalist could easily find him in his Bihar village. Santosh Singh was finally tried 14 years later in 2009. There have also been many cases where police constables itself have committed rape. If we can’t trust the people who are supposed to protect us then who can we trust for protection? ( For a list of incident of Police corruption see – http://www.corruptioninindia.org/IndianPolice.php)
It is more important for the law to prevent rapes than to give better medical facilities after it. Singapore is a very safe country. You can see women even minors walking alone on streets at any given time. The secret however, is not the CCTV cameras but actually the stringent laws. The police have to become more vigil. Security given to VIP’s should be reduced or the strength of the police force enhanced for the benefit of the common man. The courts have to quicken the judgments and bring about a sense of fear amongst the offenders. This can be achieved by having special courts for sexual offences just like there are 26 special courts for corruption in Delhi. Giving death penalties is one option. Chemical castration is a cheaper alternative than imprisonment, and is more effective as well. It makes sure that the offenders suffer as the victims did. According to a survey, 97% of sex offenders are likely to commit a crime after imprisonment. However, after castration only 3% are likely to commit a crime.
Another crime, another protest, some more tear and that’s it!!!! The menacing cycle seem to be going on perennially. Nothing has changed other than the names taking over the constitutional seats. The government promised to take action years ago and that’s what it’s still doing – making promises.
There is a rape case every 22 minutes and the time has come for each one of us to play an important role. Instead, of telling our daughters what to wear we should tell our sons, how to respect and behave with women. Each parent thus, has a crucial role. We need to spread education and tell our children how to respect each other including women in the society. The society should have zero tolerance towards the offenders. The women have to fight back as well. All of us have to spread the message. We all need to act now and each one of us can make a difference and make our society a safer place to live in. All forms of violence against women must stop – from the use of rape as a weapon of war to the use of violence by a husband to terrorize his wife within her own home. We have to bring a reform in our system. Enough is enough. We must unite. Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government; Because the Delhi gang rape has again reiterated that the next victim could be anybody – just about anybody, which includes people dear to you.