Act Against Rape - We need Three Clear Actions

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On January 10, 2018, an 8-year old girl went missing in Kathua near Jammu after she had taken the horses for grazing in the nearby forest. The girl's father decided to search for her when she didn't return and finally lodged a complaint. The girl's body was recovered seven days later on 17th January. Asifa had been found raped and murdered. Women in India have accepted sexual harassment & sometimes even rape as a part of life; most of us will forget & forgive. We ask for THREE CLEAR ACTIONS from the government and the Supreme Court of India.

“After committing the barbaric act of rape on the minor victim, the accused Khajuria kept her neck on his left thigh and started applying force with his hands on her neck in order to kill her… Khajuria was unsuccessful in killing her, the juvenile killed her by pressing his knees against her back while strangulating the girl by applying force on both the ends of her chunni. Thereafter, the accused, in order to make sure that the victim is dead, hit her twice on the head with a stone.'' This description of the murder in the charge sheet goes on to show how much the little girl suffered before her murder.

THREE CLEAR ACTIONS we ask for are:

1. We need better policing: India has 1 policeman for every 720 persons, which is the lowest police-to-public ratio across the world. The United States, for comparison, has 1 police officer for every 436 citizens; South Africa has 1 for 347 citizens & Sri Lanka 1 for every 424 citizens. According to the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), India has a shortage of at least 500,000 police personnel. Of the police India does have, over 33 percent of the police force is deployed for VVIP duties and only around one-third do actual policing.  

2. We need sensitized & trained police: India’s police are not trained and sensitized to handle sexual crimes. When confronted with such cases, it has been seen that more often than not the police either look the other way or force the victims to settle the issue with the offenders. Moreover, there is a huge shortage of policewomen, which discourages victims from sharing their experience with police officers.

3. We need a prompt judicial system: The Indian judicial system is painfully slow. It generally takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years for an Indian court to decide on a case and convict the offender. This is primarily because of a shortage of judges. India has 15 judges for every one million, compared to China’s 159. Although, the government has introduced fast track courts to expedite the cases, it still continues to take years before a case sees the light of the day. (Source: The Diplomat, Jan 2017)

Some facts from the last 5 years, that should make us sit up & think:

1. NYTimes, Jan 2013: Of more than 600 rape cases reported in Delhi in 2012 only 1 led to a conviction. On 16-Dec-2013, Nirbhaya became a victim of a brutal gang rape attack & we were promised change. Have those promises been delivered?

2. India Today, Sep 2014: 92 women were raped on an average every day in India & the national capital with 1,636 cases recorded the highest number of such crimes among all cities last year.According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of rape cases reported in India has gone up to 33,707 in 2013 from 24,923 in 2012. 

3. Huffington Post, June 2016In 2015, over 3 lakh women were kidnapped, raped, molested—and in some extreme cases, killed—by men across the country. That's almost a 27 percent increase since 2012 & Nirbhaya.  848 women are either harassed, raped or killed after abduction every single day. Some are sold off to traffickers. Over 13 percent are under the age of 14 years. If you count all the women who are raped by the time they turn 18, that's almost 40 percent of the entire demographic of women rape survivors. 

4. Firspost, May 2017: According to  NCRB, Madhya Pradesh with 4,391 cases, Maharashtra with 4,144, Rajasthan with 3,644, Uttar Pradesh with 3,025, Odisha with 2,251 and Delhi with 2,199 recorded the highest number of reported rape cases. However, it must be noted that a lower rape count could mean a lower 'reported' rape count. States that do better on other gender parity metrics are likely to see a higher count of reported rapes because more victims try to access the justice system. 

5. Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 2017: India promised a lot following the 2012 gang rape of a physiotherapy student so brutal that she died of her injuries. It would give legal aid to victims, make it easier for rape survivors to register the crime, develop a more sensitive police force and "fast-track courts" to expedite cases, it would add more street lights and CCTV cameras to make women feel safer. Let's put all that to one side because hardly any of it has happened. Let's ask instead about the fundamental point: has the average Indian man changed at all in his attitude towards women?