A rape/sexual assault survivor has to wait long for the medical report so forensic kit should be made available at the local police stations and hospitals for the benefit of the survivors
While the Nirbhaya, Kathua, Mandsaur and many other rape cases grabbed headlines, rape is a reality that half of our population lives with every day. The fear of a rapist lurking in the fields, on the way to school, when they go to relieve themselves or even in their own homes is omnipresent for women and girls in rural India. Rural Connection launched a campaign to highlight these cases – which failed to become headlines or hashtags – and in doing so, bring out the larger issues raised by so many individual cases. Join us in our campaign, Raktranjit – Bloodstains
Only strict legal provisions are not enough to curtail the rising sexual abuse of minors; education and awareness are critical to bring about a fall in such incidents.
“An ideal village doesn’t just consist of facilities of electricity, roads and water—an ideal village is where, besides these facilities, women and children are safe and are able to conduct their life in absence of fear,” says Sunita Menon, director of Breakthrough, which works to end the discrimination and violence against women and girls.
She added: “It is important to hold a public debate at panchayat level to bring about a stop in crime against women. Only then would people in rural areas come forth and speak openly on the issue of violence against women. Due to the stigma attached to such matters people are afraid to expose or talk about such matters.”
Sunita believes that parents must endeavour to bring about a reduction in the crime against women. “How we rear our boys — we have to change their outlook towards women. The girls must also be taught to neither support nor withstand violence. It is the need of the hour to make people aware with the help of educational institutions and NGOs,” informs Sunita.
The National Crime Records Bureau’s 2017 report clearly indicates that there has been a rapid rise in the cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children. As per the report, there has been an 82% increase in cases of child sexual abuse from 2016 to 2017.
After Kathua and Unnao rape cases, the Prevention of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has been revised and strengthened against child sex abuse. The new ordinance has the provision of death penalty for raping a minor below 10 years of age while increasing the penalty for raping a minor below 16 years from 10 years imprisonment to 20.
Archana Singh, the in-charge of Asha Jyoti Centre in Lucknow suggests measures to curb sexual violence against the minors. She says, “Life imprisonment or a death penalty may not be effective in preventing rape incidences. The need is to strengthen the existing law, swift settlement of cases and raising awareness. The government needs to include sexual abuse and the law against it in school syllabus.”
She added: “If a victim could be provided justice the way the rape law has been strengthened, the rising incidents of sexual abuses can be effectively curbed. Presently, the victim has to wait long before the justice is provided.”
The new law has provided for fast track courts to expedite cases of sexual abuse against minors. Provision has also been made to strengthen the process of gathering forensic evidence. Also, the trial needs to be wrapped up within the period of two months, if an appeal is filed then within six months. The cases of sexual offences against minors are to be settled within 10 months. Meanwhile, there continues to be a long wait in the process.
Professor and sociologist Jayakant Tiwari of Kashi Hindu University, Varanasi informs Rural Connection over the phone, “Law being stringent was strengthened even further, but couldn’t affect the rate of crime. Law and legal provisions can’t curb such incidents. Social change along with the change in the mindset of people regarding women is crucial to achieving that.”
He added: “From police administration to the gram panchayats, such atmosphere of public awakening must be created wherein a person even contemplating the crime should be aware of its dire consequences.”
Talking about how such incidents can be curbed, lawyer Kismet Ali from Barabanki informs: “Stringent laws are necessary to stop the crime, so is people’s awareness. A victim has to wait long for the medical report so forensic kit should be made available at the local police stations and hospitals for the benefit of rape victim. Besides, there should be special appointments of workers-official to look after the cases of sexual abuse.”
Read Part One here
Read Part Two here
Read Part Three here
Read Part Four here
Read Part Five here
Read Part Six here