Author: Vaishnavi Navghare.
All over the world, at each minute thousands of women fall pray to different violent crimes such as domestic violence, mental harassment, assault, physical abuse, human trafficking etc. But from all this crimes rape is one of those crime whose rate is increasing rapidly. Rape is now no-where a new word in newspapers nowadays. Women are not only victim to it outside their houses but also inside in their houses. This is one of the most brutal and heinous crime against the women. Such crime not only devastate their happy life but kills their hope to live further.
Right from the new born child to a 100 year old women all have fall pray to this crime as it doesn’t see the age. India is one of the most unsafe country for women for such crimes. Therefore justice system of India need to be more protective, gentle, helpful towards the women victims of violent crime. This victims not only get psychologically affected, but the outside world let it difficult for them and their family to live. In such condition a helpful assistance from the police and justice system can give them an immense mental support to fight for justice.
This article is primarily focusing on the rape victims and their perception towards police, what circumstances the rape victim faces while investigation, how police mishandle the cases and how the whole police and justice mechanism can be improved to make it more comfortable and friendly for the victims.
CHAPTER 1: VIOLENT CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN ACROSS THE WORLD
1.1 Declaration on the elimination of violence against women
Declaration on the elimination of violence against women is the first international platform and the first international human rights instrument to address the issues related to violent crimes against the women. It was issued by UN general assembly in 1993. According to this declaration the violent crimes violates the human rights of women and her exercise of fundamental freedom. This declaration also provides the definition of gender based abuse it says that “any act of gender based violence that result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. This definition is further made clearer and amplified in article 2 of the declaration which says that there are three different categories in which violent crimes takes place, these are-
- Psychological, physical and sexual violence that takes place in family, which mainly includes dowry related violence, female infanticide, spousal violence, domestic violence marital rape, female and girl child exploitation.
- Psychological, physical and sexual violence that takes place outside the house within community, that mainly includes Rape, sexual abuse, human/ girl child trafficking, assault, forced prostitution.
- Psychological, physical and sexual violence carry out and forgiven/neglected by the state.1
1.2 Violent crimes against women
The violent crimes against women takes place in almost every country in the world, it is now treated as a common practice by the society. It takes place against women of all races, nationalities, class, age, caste, religion etc. This violence has now taken the shape of custom and tradition in some parts of the world as they treat women like a toy.
Mostly in interior and district areas women have also accepted such harassment against them as they are unaware about their rights. Therefore it is very important to make the women aware about laws, help them to fight for injustice against them and to make the strict laws against violence.2
Some of the common violent crimes against women
1. Domestic violence
Domestic violence is the most common crime in not only developing but in developed country as well. It includes the physical and mental harassment by the spouse and in laws. Such type of crime increases because the neighbors, relatives and even the parents of the victim treat it as the private matter between the offender and victim. Also some women quietly struggle through this pain without saying a word. In USA per minute at least 18 women fall pray to this crime, get beaten up and harassed.
2. Son preference
Son preference is the common crime especially in the Asia. It includes female foeticide, infanticide. Usually in many urban and rural areas female are forced to abort the female foetus. If they denied to do so then they are not provided with the good facilities and nutrition. Also in some areas the family physically and mentally harass the women and also abandoned and divorced them. In order to curb this issue we need to stop the illegal business of sex determination.
3. Dowry harassment and death/ Early marriage of women without her consent
Dowry is practice of giving payment in form of money or things like car or gold in exchange of a girl before her marriage it is the common practice in India. Today also in many suburb ares of India average 5 women are beaten and burned due to dowry related issues everyday. Early marriage kills the childhood of a girl. It causes many physical and mental health problems to her, as she is not mentally ready to take this responsibility. It can lead many complications in pregnancy and even sometimes the death too. Marrying a girl without her consent is like violating her human right and right to choose.
4. Forced Prostitution
Every day hundreds are women forced into prostitution either by their parents or husbands. Poverty is the main reason for forced prostitution. Many women even get trapped into this business, usually offenders lured them by fake marriage proposals and jobs in cities. This is how they fall into a dark world they could have never imagined to be in.
It usually includes the fake inappropriate video surfacing over the internet. Many women get blackmailed each day and forced to do many work without their will in lieu of leaking their video online. In such cases women often commits suicide due to the society. Also many women enter into porn industry due to their weak economical and social condition. Pornography is that form of violence which indirectly affects the women mental and physical health.
6. Girl child trafficking
Today also many parents sell their daughters for small amount due to poverty and also if they don’t want to take the responsibility of girl child. In cities many sex workers kidnapped children and traffic them to borders across the other countries. In order to stop human trafficking we need to curb the business illegal trafficking worker.
It is one of most serious and brutal crime and common among all the violent crimes that we have discussed. Rape can occur anywhere and with anyone. Women are not even safe today inside their houses. Mostly the justice in rape cases is a long term journey today. Victim usually face a physical and mental trauma which cannot be explained. Also when the victim reaches the justice system the journey is not easy for her. Also many women face the marital rape but it becomes very hard for them to prove it. Many women also get acid attacks after they got raped or they get brutally murdered.
8. Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment at workplace and at public places gained lime light after case of Railway board and others v. Chandrima Das. In this case the women was raped by the workers of the railway board and due to this government issued guidelines for the safety of women at workplace. But then also today, it is not safe for the women to work late night or to travel late in night.
9. Custodial violence against women
We can imagine if women and not safe inside their houses how can they be safe inside the prison. Many women get physically and verbally abused inside the police detention centers across the world. It is very important for our police system to take such matters seriously and report a separate case against the offenders. Such rapes are usually the symbolic rape of the whole community.
10. Violence against refugees
Thousands of Refugee women fall pray to the sexual violence by military officials, immigration workers and refugee men they are also forced into prostitution.
11. Violence against women in armed conflict
Sexual abuse is the major weapon in each and every war conflict that we have seen. Even in second world war women of Yugoslavia were raped and made sex slaves by the soldiers of Japan. In order to fulfill the revenge against the enemy women of that country have to always sacrifice.3
1.3 Current rate of violent crimes against women all around the world
- Every one in the three women experience sexual and mental violence by their spouse or partners.
- Only 52% women can make their own decision about the inmate life.
- One out of the two women were killed in 2017 by their partners.
- 71% out of the total human who are trafficked are women or girls, majority of them are sexually exploited.
- 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation.4
CHAPTER 2: RAPE AS A VIOLENT CRIME
UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres has said that-
“Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. Let us not forget that the gender inequalities that fuel rape culture are essentially a question of power imbalances”.
The theme for the 2019 international day for the elimination of violence against the women in 2019 was “orange the world: generation equality strands against rape”.
Therefore this article primary focuses on rape victims and their perception towards police. Also as the rape cases are at alarming rate in India, we are focusing majorly on rape victims from India.
2.1 Rape as violent crime in India
2.1.1 Rape laws in India
Rape can be marital rape, college campus rape, custodial rape, gang rape, child rape, war rape etc.
As per the Indian Penal Code Section 375 it says that-
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines ‘rape’ as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped, or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age”5
Amendment to Section 375
“The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 or the Nirbhaya Act, was passed in Parliament to amend Section 375. To remove ambiguity in the earlier law and provide for strict punishment in cases of rarest cases of sexual violence, the legislation was expanded to define acts like penetration of penis into vagina, urethra, anus or mouth, or any object or any part of body to any extent into the aforesaid woman body parts (or making another person do so), as constituting an offence of sexual assault. Applying mouth or touching private parts were also classified as offences of sexual assault”.
Punishment under Section 375
“Except in certain aggravated situations, the punishment will be imprisonment of not less than seven years but it may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine. In aggravated situations, punishment will be rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment”.6
2.1.2 Rate of rape as a violent crime in India
According to the recent NCRB data 2018 the most numbers of IPC crimes registered under crime against women were from from these four categories
- Cruelty against by husband or the relatives- 31.9%
- Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty- 27.6%
- Kidnapping and abduction of women- 22.5%
- Rape- 10.3%
Crime rate per lakh women population in India is 58.8 in 2018. In 2017 it was 57.9. we can say that, the crime rate against women has increased in 2018 and 2019.
This chart shows total number of violent crime cases against women in three recent years
We can see from the above figures that the crime against women is increasing with the consecutive year. It is sign that crime against women is increasing at alarming rate.7
The chart for total number of rape cases in 2018
|Total cases investigated
|Total numbers of victims
|Rate of crime
Here we can see the total number of cases there is gap between the number of actual cases and the cases investigated, which shows that still there are hundreds of victim who didn’t even get the access to investigation.8
The chart for total number of rape cases with the women above 18 years of age 9
|Total cases investigated
|Total numbers of victims
|Rate of crime
The chart for total number of rape cases with the women below 18 tears of age10
|Total cases investigated
|Total numbers of victims
|Rate of crime
The chart for the number of rape cases registered under different circumstances in 201811
|Rape cases under different circumstances
|Number of cases
|Rape by police personnel
|Rape by police servant
|Rape by member of armed forces
|Rape by the management staff of jail or custody
|Rape by management staff of hospital
|Rape by relative, guardian, Teacher
|Rape on pregnant women
|Rape on women below 16 years old
|Rape on women incapable of giving consent
This numbers shows that women are more unsafe inside their houses than outside as there are 2218 rape cases reported are against the near ones of the victims.
2.1.3 Procedure for investigation
The long journey towards the justice is not easy for the victim, here is the process the victim has to go through to convict the accused-
1. Victim files a FIR
Victim can file FIR near any of the police station were victim resides, if the incident takes place in another state then victim can file case there also.
2. Police records the statement of the witness
In this process after lodging the FIR against the accused the police take the statement s of the victim and the witness (if any) which includes the narration of the whole incident which they have experienced.
3. Police investigate the crime scene
It is very important for the police to investigate the whole crime scene so that they can collect the evidences and verify whether the victim is saying truth or not. Also they send the evidences to forensic to test them.
4. Medical examination of the victim takes place
It includes the medical testing of the victim to check the signs of the rape and to document it.
5. Rehabilitation of the rape survivor is done
Moral and emotional support to the victim is very essential during this whole process therefore doctors and counselling ensures that the victim get good rehabilitation and counselling to keep her mental health sound.
6. Signing of the panchnama
All the clothes and accessories the victim wears during the crime is collected, sealed and submitted to the police for verification and assurance with signature by two person is basically known as panchas and the whole process is called as Panchnama.
7. Then the accused is arrested
If the accused’s whereabouts are known and if he is easily accessible then police arrest the accused. Otherwise it can take some time to find him.
8. Medical examination of accused.
Medical examination of the accused is done to collect the evidences and validate the accused victims account of incident.
9. Accused is presented before the court and Statement of the accused and survivor get recorded before the judge
Here the accused describe the whole event before the victim and the magistrate so as the victim. Both of their statements gets recorded and documented. Then the police is directed to make the chargesheet against the victim on the basis of statements.
10. Charge sheet is filed against the accused
Chargesheet is prepared by the police and all the investigation details, findings and the statement of the victim are placed in it, once the chargesheet gets ready it gets submitted to the court and the trial process begins.
11. Trial of the accused takes place
Now here the state fights on behalf of the survivor and not the survivor herself fights her case. Lawyers from the both side presents their argument in the court and the whole process gets recorded.
12. Finally the judge delivers the judgement.
After all of this process the judge delivers justice to the victim.12
But in today’s time this whole process can be seem like a fairy tale because some victims are not even aware about their rights, some never approach the court, some looses the hope in early stage only, and some dose not access to the whole process, some are forced to struggle as the accused are there family members only, and some who really wants to fight did not gets the proper support from the justice system or we can say police.
CHAPTER 3: STRUGGLE OF A RAPE VICTIM
3.1 Need for victimization to a rape victim
Life of the rape survivor is not all all easy for her. During this period she went through a lot of emotional, social, financial and physical sufferings. Most traumatic thing is for the most survivor most of these sufferings starts from the home only. Right from the society they live to the whole process of trial she has to bear the all humiliation, embarrassment and jokes cracked on her each day. It is a “suffering through silence” for her and that’s why most of the rape survivor commits suicide because they don’t get a proper victimization that can lesser their agony. They don’t get a proper mental and emotional support from the police and justice system which can uplift their self esteem.
3.1.1 Sufferings of a rape victim
1. Emotional suffering
First and the foremost is the emotional suffering the survivor goes through. It includes mood swings, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, anger, embarrassment, loneliness, bad dreams, self- blaming, suicide attempts, eating disorder, imagining the bad incident and crying, and many more. Many girls self blamed themselves for the whole incident and some are made to do so by their own family. Many girls starts hating men and don’t like to see them. This all symptoms slowly started to kill themselves from inside and one day they really try to do so. Therefore first and foremost the rape survivor needs is the mental and emotional support. In order to uplift their self esteem its important to give them counselling session, and make the environment around them extremely friendly, comfortable, encouraging and supportive.
2. Financial suffering
Most of the families feel ashamed to have the rape survivor in their house, for them their status in the society is more more important than their daughter, sister, mother and wife. And that is why many husband abandoned their wives on street and refuse to accept them. Also many companies fire the employees who are the rape victim to avoid the speculations. Also many families don’t have the enough money to provide the proper counselling and rehabilitation to the victim. That’s why the financial suffering really demotivates them to live their life.
3. Social suffering
“Characterless girl”, “cheap girl”, “don’t talk to her”, “there must be the fault in her only” this all comments and taunts the rape survivor has to listen whenever she steps out of her house. Many rape survivor and their families get boycotted from the society and community to which they belong. Society behaves and reacts very differently towards the rape survivor and her family. They think that these girls are character less and talking and working with them will lower their status in the society. This is a really big issue, because 90% of the rape survivor commits suicide because of the society’s perception towards them. It is the high time that people need to change their opinions and perception towards the rape victim.
4. Physical suffering
Along with the mental and emotional suffering the rape victim also goes through the physical suffering just after the incident and can be afterward also. It includes the injuries, bleeding, infection, bruises, wounds, cut, vaginal pain and discharges, difficulty in walking and many more. Some victims can even go at coma or get mentally disable due to shock. We can see that it is not easy for the victim to bear all the suffering at once.13
CHAPTER 4: PERCEPTION OF THE RAPE VICTIM TOWARDS THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Only support and strength for the rape victim is the justice system and especially the police. If this system is not treating the victim properly and everyone will start losing faith from the system and it will deny them the fair and equal treatment, denial of justice and protection, infringement of their human rights and fundamental rights and also it sometimes aggravates the victim to take a revenge on its own.
4.1 Problems faced by a rape victim during reporting and investigation of the case
What are the problems faced by the rape victim in today’s modern time-
1. Making the victim feel extremely uncomfortable
Many police stations have only the male assistant and no lady constable, this does make the environment uncomfortable also mainly the police officers from the rural areas does make the victim feel uncomfortable through their nonprofessional behaviour.
2. Asking the unnecessary questions
Many times police ask the victim the very random any uncertain questions which does not have any link to the incident which can also make the victim feel scary and unfriendly.
3. Insulting and blaming the parents
Mainly the police stations from the rural areas make fun of the victim and the parents. They blame the victim and the parents for the cause and ask them to not to file the case to avoid the hustle.
4. Passing the embarrassing comments
Pattern of asking the questions and interrogating the victim can help a lot to solve the case but many police officers instead of interrogating make fun of victim and pass comments on her because she is helpless and poor.
5. Delay in registration of complaint
In order to avoid the hustle of investigating and trail many police officers ask the victim to not to file the case or just avoid them by giving different times and date to come.
6. Not keeping the details and interrogation private
It happen in many rural areas that the details of the victim and the incident gets leaked and this can cause a immense harm to the mental state of the family of the victim and to the victim itself, this in fact increases the rate of the suicide among the victims.14
4.2 Misuse of the power
The chart for the disposal of rape cases by police and court from 2018 to December 2019
|Total cases under investigation
|Charge sheet rate
|Total cases for trial
|Total cases convicted
From these numbers we came to know that the actual conviction rate is very less than the cases under investigation. Which we can say is either the misuse of the power of the police or we have a very slow running justice system in our country.15
Some examples of how police mishandle the case16:
- Not interrogating the accused
- Not maintaining proper record
- Delay in arrest
- Making the false statement to save the accused
- Twisting the facts and evidences
- Does not carry out medical examination of accused
- Not invoking proper sections of law
- Not taking efforts to collect the evidences
- Releasing the victims on bail
- Conscious delay and omission to save the high profile accuse
- Delay in concluding the case.
4.3 Cases related to misuse of the power by justice system
1. S.P.S Rathore v. CBI and Anr 2016 (Ruchika Girhotra case)
Haryana Inspector General of police was the president of the Lawn Tennis Association in 1990 and he was charged with the offence of molesting a budding Lawn tennis player Ruchika Girhotra in his office. No solid FIR as well as investigation of the case was done for almost 19 years.
The family members of the victim also faced many problems like false cases of theft and accident were lodged against the father and brother of the victim. Ruchika was emotionally shattered after the incident and in 1993 she committed suicide by taking poison. She and her family faced lot of hate and false allegation as the case was related to the IGP. After 19 years due to the role of media and some NGO the case was reopened and matter was once again subjudice.
2. Shivani Bhatnagar Murder Case
IPS officer R.K Sharma was charged with the offence of killing Shivani Bhatnagar in 1999. She was journalist and and principle correspondent at Indian express. He killed her because he was in the fear that Shivani will expose their relationship. Even the Union communication minister Pramod Mahajan was suspected in her murder but he denied the allegation. The accused surrendered himself in 2002 and and was given life sentence after 9 years of the struggle.
3. Bitti Mohanty case
Bitihotra Mohanty is the son of Orissa DGP Bidya Bhushan Mohanty who was charged in the offence of raping the German national student while her stay at Alwar in 2006. As he was the son of DGP the case was not strongly investigated but still the family of victim continued to fight against the accused. He was jail for seven years in 2006 but was released on parole after 15 days. As the case is related to the high profile family the police are only promising to convict the accused but are not doing anything.
4. Madhukar Tandon case
Madhukar Tandon was DGP of Rajasthan in 1997 and he was charged with the offence of sexually exploiting the tribal women Malli Devi who was house keeper at his house. He was absconded for almost 13 years and police were not taking any strict action against him. Many persistent efforts were made by the husband of the victim to jailed him. Later in 2007 he finally surrendered before the city court.
5. Mathura Rape case
Mathura rape case was incident of custodial rape of a tribal girl from Gadchiroli Maharashtra by two policemen in 1972. This case came into limelight when Supreme court acquitted both of the accused (it was stated in the court that Mathura has given her consent for the intercourse although she didn’t) and it led to the massive protest by the citizen of India and due to this there was amendment made in the in Indian Rape law in section 376 which made custodial rape punishable under law and also in order to prove there was consent or not moved from accuser to accused.17
These were just few leading cases which became well known and got recognized due to the media and public but there are thousands and lakhs of cases were get unrecognized and victim never gets justice.
CHAPTER 5: NEED FOR A CHANGE
5.1 Need for change in police behaviour during Investigation and trial process
There need to be a immediate change in the investigation and trial process of the victim of rape. The mind of the rape victim has become very sensitive and harsh and abnormal behaviour and harm their mental state. The investigation of the rape victim has to be done with very friendly and professional way. So that they can relive their heart before the investigator and can tell the facts without any fear in the mind and this will ultimately help the police to solve the case soon.
Also the proper investigation will give the moral support to the victim, it will give mental strength to the victim to face the world and will help to abolish the taboo related to rape victims in the mind of the people. In order to change the investigation and trial process their need to change in the attitude of the person and that can be achieved by giving proper training and seminars to the police officers. Also we need to give proper training to the officers to control their anger and frustration. Also we can assign the special officer who can be especially trained to interrogate the rape victims. But the better way is to train the officers to handle the rape victims in very calm and supportive way.
5.2 Need for the change in Medical and other investigation of the rape victim
The medical examination is the very crucial step in the rape investigation and it has to be done with utmost care. That’s why the lady constable has to be there with the rape victim while the whole investigation process. There need to be very supportive and friendly attitude by the doctors too while handling the rape cases.
The mental state of the rape victim can be improved by giving the free counselling sessions. If the victim is form the poor family the free medical investigation and counselling program should be given to the victim. Last but not least we need to abolish the stereotype attitude which is there in the society against the rape victim.
5.3 Need for the change in perception of the society
The perception of the society is the root cause of the whole taboo that is created. Many victims commits suicide or don’t file the case due the fear of the society. For this we need to change our vision and perception towards the rape victim. We need to accept them as human and that is what they want. No awareness program can work for this it all starts from within. We need to change ourselves first and then the society will ultimately change.
From the recent NCRB report we can say that rape cases in India are on the peak, also the age of the victims is very sensitive, the rate of conviction is low as compare to the cases filed, also rape by the relatives and guardian are highest in number. The custodial rape is also very shameful in its own.
Police mishandling and harsh behaviour is also somehow provoking the victim to commit suicide, From this we can say that the justice system of our country is lacking in protecting the rape victim and to give them the save environment.
Form this information we can conclude that the rape cases in India are increasing day by day and police mishandling can act as a catalyst to this. Therefore the police officers who mishandle the rape cases or tried to fraudulently hide the facts or save the accused should be strictly punished under law.
There is immediate need to stringent the rape laws in India and to increase the level of punishment. Also the attitude of the police officers should be change while handling the rape victims to change the perception of society in whole.
- Ending violence against women, UNWomen.org, 2019, p.10.
- David p. Bryden, “Rape in the criminal justice system”, Pritzker school of law journal of criminal law and criminology”, Vol 87, No 4, pp.1194-1384.
- Mukul Raizada, “Victims of violent crimes under Indian justice system critical study”, NLU Delhi, 2017.
- Violent crime against women, Unicef.irc.org.
- Section 375 of Indian Penal Code 1862.
- Section 375 of Indian Penal Code 1862.
- National crime records Bureau India, Vol 1, 2018.
- A study of pre-trial and trail stages of rape prosecutions in Delhi towards victims friendly responses and procedures for prosecuting rape, Ministry of Law and Justice Government of India.
- Sonia Aneja, “Sexual violence against women with special reference to rape victimization and judicial approach in India”, University of Jammu, 2012.
- R. Bachman, “Violence against women a national crime victimization survey report”, U.S department of justice, January 1994.
- National crime records Bureau India, Vol 1, 2018.
- Jan Jordan, “ Worlds apart?, Women, rape and the police reporting process”, The British Journal criminology, Vol 41, No 4, pp. 679-706.
- Alok Kumar Gupta, “Indian police- crisis of credibility”, Indian Journal of Political science, Vol 73, No 2, April- June 2012, pp. 299-310.