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Dealing with Rape & other sexual crimes against women: A quick compilation of suggestions emailed to Justice Verma Committee

January 3, 2013 by Snigdha

Dealing with Rape & other sexual crimes against women

A quick compilation of suggestions emailed to Justice Verma Committee

The following is what I have emailed to the Verma Committee in response to their call to citizens to give suggestions regarding amendments to existing laws on rape and other sexual crimes against women.

Please add your suggestions and/or reiterate the ones with which you agree, and send by email to justice.verma@nic.in or through fax at 011-23092675 by 5th Jan, 2013. We simply can not afford to keep quiet at this juncture. It is necessary that the committee gets a sizeable cross-section of public opinion on various dimensions of this complex issue of crime against women.

Any crime has to be dealt with broadly at 3 levels – Prevention, Deterrence & Justice. Prevention requires Reforms to change attitude & systems on all related fields and implementation of systems. Deterrence comes from fear of consequences of committing a crime, which, in turn, flows from visibility of quick & certain apprehension of the culprit, conviction  and severity of punishment. Justice comes from reasonable correspondence of punishment to crime committed including reform & rehabilitation of the convict in eminently deserving cases – very discerningly & judiciously based on all critical dimensions like motivation, provocations, triggers, age & maturity, residual life out of jail after serving the sentence requiring the need to bring back the person to the social mainstream etc.

While Police and Administration has the first responsibility to ensure safety of citizens & quick apprehension of offenders, investigation & producing them with evidence before the Court of Law, the Legal system has the onerous responsibility to ensure carriage of justice as well as a major portion of deterrence in terms of  fast-track trial/conviction and exemplary punishment that instils fear of consequences.

Keeping in view the above and my understanding that the assigned scope of suggestions to be made by the esteemed Verma committee is to suggest amendments to existing Laws relating to crimes against women/ sexual offences, I, as a lay-person, offer the following suggestions. Legal nuances & modalities can always be worked out by the experts and experienced in the legal field.

 1.  The first cardinal principle on which  Laws relating to RAPE must be based on should be : “ Even a prostitute/sex worker has a right not to be raped.”

2. Rape to be made a non-bailable offense.

 3. Fast track courts at least for crimes against women of serious nature like rape, acid attacks and other serious sexual assaults ( to be clearly defined). The ideal position would be to have separate fast track courts for all crimes against women – from eve-teasing, stalking, molestation, other sorts of sexual harassment to acid attacks, rape, and dowry deaths.

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Rape Vrs R-A-P-E

December 26, 2012 by Snigdha

Rape Vrs R-A-P-E                        

Following the recent incident of savage gangrape of a paramedico student in Delhi public bus, there has been a huge countrywide outrage as well as a massive brainstorming on how to ensure safety of women and curb crimes against women. Lots of articles containing valuable opinion and suggestions from esteemed members of society have also been published in media.

But one article “ Crime and Punishment” ostensibly championing the cause of women, got me really thinking about the duality of beliefs and consequent lack of genuine empathy for women in society .

(visit link http://newindianexpress.com/opinion/article1389302.ece)

The reasons and concerns observed by the author asto why “award  of death penalty will not stop rape, but swift and harsh punishment will certainly deter would-be rapists” are well taken (although,personally,I would advocate stringent punishment for rape with capital punishment as the maximum, depending upon the rarity and severity of brutality of the crime.). But I felt deeply distressed to find two observations by the esteemed author at the same breath, which perhaps reveals a disturbing phenomenon of many in the society, both men and women, who think they believe in gender neutrality/equality, but deep down in their subconscious, they still harbour and accept the centuries-old prejudices against women. To quote, at one place the author says, “ Rape is horrible because it violates the body,the mind,the honour and the dignity of the victim and thereby is a direct attack on all womanhood.”  and yet, at another place, he goes on to say,“ Murder, that is, permanently depriving a person of life, will always be a more serious offence than rape, regardless of what women activists might say. Despite this, generally speaking, in murder cases life imprisonment is the norm and death penalty is the exception. Is rape so much more serious than murder that we should insist on a mandatory death penalty in rape cases?”

A Freudian slip by the esteemed author??

Rape, (that too the unimaginably violent ones being perpetrated by sick and pervert men with frequent regularity of late) is a violation of body that results in inhuman physical torture- in many cases leading to death or severe conditions leaving the victim as a living corpse, and leads to an  annihilation of  the soul of the victim and worse still, it systematically crushes down entire generations of women through an atmosphere of intense fear of dire consequences for women who dare establish an identity of their own beyond being an appendage to some male!  Pray, how is this any less serious than murder? How I wish I had a magic wand to convert a few men to girl foetuses and make them grow through the entire labyrinth of gender discrimination from mother’s womb to grave, from subtle to pronounced to violent – just to make them understand what it means to be a woman even in today’s so called much-progressed world!!

By the way, the word RAPE itself contains its own solution: Reform, Act, Punish , Exemplify ! Ironically, R-A-P-E can serve as a Master Approach to address any type of deep-seated sickness pertaining to mindset and system. High time, this word is purged of the stigma attached to it so that all can utter it – like all other words referring  to a ‘crime’ so that the shame is on the criminal and not on the victim and secondly, convert it to a positive term to mean a multipronged approach to deal with complex socio-systemic problems.

Any crime has to be dealt with at 3 levels – Prevention, Deterrence & Justice. Prevention requires Reforms to change attitude & systems on all related fields; Deterrence flows from quickness&certainty of being caught & convicted and severity of punishment; Justice comes from reasonable correspondence of punishment to crime committed including reform& rehabilitation of the criminal in deserving cases.

Within this broad framework of action, commendable doable suggestions have come out of all the brainstormings vide sloganeering, debates, discussions, articles etc – which need to be collated and acted upon. Not that we did not know about these earlier – but definitely the silver lining for the society in this darkest cloud for the rape victim is that it has brought the focus back on the issue of women’s safety ! As in every other difficult situation, here too the crying need of the hour is action – the willingness to act !  Some of the suggestions specific to safety of women out of house, like FIR on  CCTV, CCTV coverage in public transports, near malls, cinema halls, more PCR vans, badges for drivers of all public transports ( both govt. and private owned vehicles ) with their name, driving licence and photo  etc. can be implemented forthwith without any difficulty.

Assuming a girl is allowed to be born and treated equally in getting an opportunity for going to a school, Co-education from day one is perhaps one of the most effective measures to facilitate inculcating respect for women in menfolk and self-esteem in women. When boys see a girls matching upto them or doing better in academics and extra-curricular activities in schools/colleges, they automatically see the latter with respect – nobody has to keep preaching “respect the women”. These boys and girls, when they grow up and take important positions in society and organisations, are most likely to be merit-oriented without much gender bias, unless they have picked up that gender bias from other stronger social fabrics and wrong role models.  I can say this with conviction from my own experience and examples of many other women that I know of. So, I reiterate, co-ed is not a sufficient measure to deal with gender issues, but surely one of the most effective ones.

A lot more to be done – to reform society, to reform police, to reform provisions of law, to reform all involved in law enforcement and justice delivery! Herculean task . But we must start dealing with it with genuine seriousness. Let a man not rape a human being; let all of us R-A-P-E the issue of crime – not only against women, but against crimes of all types!

 

 

 

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