Justice Verma Committee is inviting solutions and ideas in regards to sexual harassment/ assault/ molestation/ rape.

Most of us think it is common sense, but it is not. Take a look at these posts, the police, these rapists, this cab drive, this rapists’ lawyers, many commenters all over the internet, many Indian men in talk shows on television, many political leaders – all seem unaware that sexually assaulting a woman is a crime no matter how much they hear about how some victims actually ‘ask for it’.  It’s like they know, it’s not such a nice thing to do, but then “you know, some women seem to ask for it and being men they can’t help it.” [Linking soon]

There is zero effort to teach Indian men that sexually assaulting a woman is a crime. Movies that show sexual harassment of women by men who claim to ‘love them’ and want their safety (by sexually harassing them) have no disclaimer (unlike smoking scenes) that what they are showing is actually a crime.

Now, Justice Verma Committee is inviting suggestions from all. Solutions and ideas in regards to sexual harassment/ assault/ molestation/ rape. Chitra shared this.

Hey IHM,
I just found out through this link:http://social.ndtv.com/gargirawat/status#tab
That Justice Verma Committee which has been set up to review all laws for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault is inviting suggestions from all.
We contact him at: justice.verma@nic.in

I have an idea and since it involves using your blog so it’s just a suggestion:
If you’d like to then we can use your blog as a platform for brainstorming all the solutions and ideas which we have in regards to sexual harassment/ assault/ molestation/ rape through a post specifically dedicated to it. By allowing all the commentators to contribute their ideas and propose solutions we can get in different perspectives and perhaps come up with some very unique/ not so unique but effective solutions nevertheless.
Then if you have the time, you can compile all the relevant ideas and make a draft of all the proposed solution and ideas and present it to us again through a post and then after another round of discussion and making any changes in the draft if the need be, you can e-mail the final list of proposed solutions and ideas to Justice Verma.

Here is what I think is the least that is required, more like the first step towards dealing with Sexual Assaults against women and girls:

Please agree, disagree and add your suggestions too. 

1. A week long ‘Rape- Myths- and- Facts-Awareness’ course (should not be called ‘sensitisation’) for every police personal no matter what their education or rank) and also every political leader. This awareness should also be a part of school curriculum.

The course should make it clear to all, that forced sex with any woman is a crime. Whether the woman is a virgin, a sex worker, whether or not she is sexually active, whether or not she is following any rules of safety, whether or not she drinks, smokes, wears ‘revealing clothes’, has many boy friends, ran away or eloped from her house, was out at ‘odd hours’, was travelling alone, was known to the rapists, has sex with the rapist before, wore half sleeves, no sleeves, high skirt, salwar kurta, saree, jeans, bikini – there is no law that makes an assault on her acceptable.

2. The police should have clear instructions (doesn’t look like they have any as of now) to record a rape-victim’s statement and preferably on video and audio too.

Medical examination and investigation should begin right then – not the next day or next week, or month or year.

Failure to do so, or trying to bully the rape victim or asking her not to report should be a punishable and finable offence.

3. Those in positions of responsibility making baseless and irresponsible  statements to the media about rape prevention should be fined too.

Blaming, Shaming, Naming and thus Silencing the Victims, by those who are responsible for ensuring their safety, should be made a punishable and finable offence. (because this embolden the rapists)

Asking women, directly or indirectly to change the way they eat, drink, travel, socialise, live, work, marry, divorce, love, have relationships, have sex, shop, sell etc to suit criminals should not be permitted. Because this amounts to asking women to give up their freedom, lives, rights, happiness and self reliance. This sort of statements confuse sexual criminals – many Indian men genuinely believe that it’s okay to sexually assault women under certain circumstances, for example “If women dress like Rakhi Sawant, why would we not rape them?” [will link]

Any attempts to reserve the roads/public spaces for rapists and criminals should be firmly dealt with.

What do you think would really help control crime unless we all understand that it is a crime and we see it being dealt with very firmly?

This video should be watched by all.

87 thoughts on “Justice Verma Committee is inviting solutions and ideas in regards to sexual harassment/ assault/ molestation/ rape.

  1. This is a good idea, Chitra. Regardless of whether it reaches Justice Verma or not, we can at least see if there is anything practical that can be accomplished in terms of combating rape or helping rape victims.

    We need not completely reinvent the wheel either. There are other countries which have taken this problem seriously and come out with their own measures.
    For e.g:
    1. Setting up a national sex offenders registry, categorizing known sex offenders as either low risk, medium risk and high risk depending on how violent they are and how likely they are deemed to repeat their crimes. In the US, people in a particular locality have access to view if there are any medium risk or high risk offenders living amongst them. Details of low risk offenders are not shared as they are believed to have some chance of rehabilitation
    2. Setting up rape crisis centers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_crisis_center) in different cities in different locations with legal and medical advocates to help the victims
    3. Setting up a centralized, nation-wide organization (like RAINN – http://www.rainn.org) which specifically focuses on sex offences and how to help the victims with helplines, counseling, coordination with police etc.
    4. Provision of anonymous Rape kits (similar to what is given here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_kit ) which the victims can use without their privacy getting violated.

    There is, of course, a lot more that can be (and should be) done like
    a) defining rape more clearly in the legal code,
    b) taking out PSAs and public ads condemning any and every kind of rape so that the common man is aware what does or does not constitute rape,
    c) reaching out to schools and colleges in an effort to influence popular mindset while they are still young

    Like

    • I like all your suggestions. Refusal to register a case and/or disrespectful behavior towards the victim should be made a punishable offence that would be on trial in the same fast track courts being set up (hopefully) for sexual offences.

      Like

  2. Completely agree with all three. It is a shame that special education is required for attacks on one half of the population. I would add that this education should start with inculcating special sensitivity towards street harassment, molestation etc. These acts go almost completely unnoticed which is such a shame. Make sure to reclaim the public space for women as much as it is for men.

    Like

  3. i sent in the following suggestions:

    1. Please make rape a non bailable offence. This will act as a deterrent, but more importantly, the law might favour the adage “innocent until proved guilty”, and no one is contesting that, but do we want even a single suspected rapist to be out on the streets? We don’t. please, if you can make only one change in the law, let it be this.
    2. Get rid of the 2 finger test. I had read that now, a woman’s word that she has been raped will have to be enough, but I still find the police insisting on a medical test and using the 2 finger test. It is inhuman to do this. Please make any medical test to determine whether rape happened – illegal. Again, while a lot of women might abuse the law, do we want even one rape victim to go through the further torment of an invasive test? A woman who is hurting from the rape does not want anything to go near that part of her body, or any part of her body. She needs a blanket, and support, but not, usually, physical touch. She is saying she was raped, trust her. I understand that there are different types of ppl and some girls might misuse the law and say they were raped when there was no sexual intercourse, but what is the percentage of such women?
    3. Please include marital rape as “rape” . marriage is not lifetime ownership rights. Also, if a man has rights to unlimited, anytime sex from his wife, does the wife enjoy such benefits too? On demand? At work? During a family function? Its impractical. And unreal. And more than anything else, it takes away basic human dignity. I am not an object to be used at will. Neither is my husband.

    Like

      • Apparently so. I really don’t get the whole “women won’t lie about rape” attitude that a lot of Indians seem to abide by. Women are human beings, with as much penchant for lying and deceit as men. Lets be rational, sane and ethical human beings. In our penchant to bring about for a safer world for women, don’t make it an unsafe world for men.
         
        Even if the prevalence of false rape allegations is a small fraction of the overall charges, it is still no valid ground to put someone behind bars on a non-bailable offence, just on someone’s words. Personally, I think rape should be treated like any other violent crime, evidence that the crime happened should the the basis for an arrest, rather than a mere word-of-mouth allegation. You cannot charge a person under section 302 if there is no evidence that a murder took place, why should 476 be an exception?

        Like

        • I agree. There should be evidence to back a claim for any crime. But like domestic violence, the evidence of rape can be tampered with and destroyed. The rapist or even the victim’s own family may threaten, blackmail, or force her into silence. More importantly, if a rape victim is killed, the rapist can easily destroy key evidence, say, simply by washing the body or disposing of it. There have been instances where rapists’ have been let off with a light sentence for extenuating circumstances like these. Why I’m seemingly contradicting myself? It’s because while I agree that no punishment ought to be given without evidence, it is important to also introduce an element of deterrence in our legal system. This has been successfully implemented in the law against domestic violence, for example, where the accused will be arrested on charges and not necessarily after the violence is proven. The legal logic behind this is that if the accused is not guilty he/she will be able to prove it. Otherwise, the accusation of domestic violence is taken seriously enough to have a warrant of non-bailable arrest issued. This provision has been used successfully in many cases that I know of personally although, in all fairness, it is not without its inherent flaws. But the question for us is, do we take rape seriously enough to come up with a harsh punishment against offenders or do we just let things be as it?

          Like

        • The legal logic behind this is that if the accused is not guilty he/she will be able to prove it.

          Which is logic I personally take serious issue with. This is merely another way of saying that a person is guilty until proven innocent, which is a violation of one of the most fundamental principles of modern jurisprudence. Moreover, that logic ignores the realities of defending yourself against a non-bailable criminal charge in India. It is a process that is emotionally and financially draining in the extreme.

          At the very best, laws like these are desperate countermeasures to an endemic problem, not logically sound solutions. The only way they can be justified is a ‘necessary evil’ approach, and I am not convinced that there is no other solution which is fairer than this. Just like reserving coaches for women in the Delhi Metro system, it is nothing more than an easy way out.

          Like

        • Atheist Indian –

          \\evidence that the crime happened should the the basis for an arrest//

          Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC deal with cases of molestation. Now how does a woman provide evidence that she has been molested? What evidence does she provide if she has been groped by a man without leaving any physical signs on her body? If we go by your logic, the above sections of the IPC become redundant. In fact, molestation itself ceases to be a crime. You cannot compare murder to molestation (or even certain cases of rape) because in murder, there is actual death of a person, whereas in molestation, you cannot find any physical signs on the body of the victim either alive or dead.

          It is even possible in certain circumstances that the only thing differentiating molestation from rape is the penetration of the male organ into the female’s body (in case of rape).

          So if a woman cannot provide evidence of being molested, then, according to you, any male can grab a part of a woman’s body and walk away. Just because groping, grabbing, pinching don’t classify as violent crimes, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be dealt with seriously.

          Like

    • Though it is not agreeable to arreest based on someone’s accusation, how about using polygraphs or lie detectors to check in case there is not physical evidence

      Like

      • Polygraphs are popularly and often wrongly referred to as “lie detectors”. They do not detect lies, but assess physiological proxies/states of emotional arousal such as heart rate, skin conductance etc while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. They are theoretically unsound (The idea that certain body states [sweating, heart rate, etc] reflect only a single psychological process [lying] has not been supported by the evidence), notoriously unreliable (evidence does not allow any precise quantitative estimate of polygraph accuracy or provide confidence that accuracy is stable across personality types, socio-demographic groups, psychological and medical conditions, examiner and examinee expectancies, or ways of administering the test and selecting questions. In particular, the evidence does not provide confidence that polygraph accuracy is robust against potential countermeasures [e.g., physiological indicators measured by the polygraph can be altered by conscious efforts through cognitive or physical means]) and not valid in assessing honesty. For example, often nervous people telling the truth look like liars, and comfortable, confident liars look like they tell the truth. In fact they are considered little better than chance by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the National Academy of Sciences
        For more: 1) http://www.apa.org/research/action/polygraph.aspx
        2) http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/polygraph.aspx
        3) http://mindhacks.com/2005/01/21/polygraph-hacking/

        However interestingly “despite the inherent unreliability of lie detectors, they have recently seen a rebirth[…] because recent studies have shown that offenders will actually produce more risk-relevant information during interviews when wired up to a polygraph than during a standard police interview. Yet this is unlikely to be due to the technology itself; years of research have shown people are more truthful when wired up to a convincing but fake machine – the so-called “bogus pipeline to the truth” effect.

        A 2007 study by psychologist Theresa Gannon and colleagues at the University of Kent tested exactly this effect with sex offenders. Child molesters who were attached to a bogus polygraph admitted higher levels of offence-facilitating thoughts than those who were just given a standard interview”

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/apr/22/lie-detector-fallibility-criminal-psychology?CMP=twt_gu

        “Thus, the only scientific evidence that the polygraph test may have some use shows that people must think it will work for it to work. Any utility that we get out of the polygraph is then based on placebo, and scientifically useless”

        There has also been a recent surge in other “supposedly valid and scientific” methods of lie detection. In fact India has received flak from many for using BEOS, brain fingerprinting and other fMRI techniques.
        http://neurofuture.blogspot.in/2006/04/brain-mapping-criminals-in-india.html
        http://neurofuture.blogspot.in/2006/04/brain-fingerprinting-smudged.html
        “One of the main weaknesses of brain fingerprinting is in the ability of results to be replicated. The creator of brain fingerprinting, Lawrence A. Farwell, PhD; has a patent on the design and the equipment used to perform the test. He has refused to let other scientists perform the procedure and therefore has not allowed for credibility through replication. As anyone knows who has taken any research or science class, one of the fundamental principles of any scientific research or test is its ability to be replicated”
        http://www.livemint.com/Politics/JNbZwqCOiDsXa21mXtUORO/Brain-mapping-debate-over-scientific-validity-continues.html
        For more on problems and specific concerns about fMRI researches see:
        http://mindhacks.com/2012/05/27/the-trouble-with-fmri/
        http://mindhacks.com/2012/05/28/a-bridge-over-troubled-waters-for-fmri/
        http://www.stats.org/stories/2012/Neuroscience_Or_Neurobabble_jul16_12.html

        The whole point is that these techniques may help us someday but right now neuroscience is in its infancy and there is so much we don’t know about brain. It’s important to remain skeptical. Reliability of any method of lie detection – from polygraphs that measure supposedly stress-induced physiological variables such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and skin conductivity, to voice-stress analysers, electroencephalograms of brain activity and now fMRI – remains the “main barrier” preventing its admission in courts.

        Like

        • “Serious validation of fMRI as a tool for lie detection would require assembling a large set of brain scans from defendants accused of various crimes (real crimes, not simulated ones) and using that data to predict whether those defendants were ultimately found guilty or not. There really isn’t any substitute for doing a serious study of that sort, but as far as I know, no one’s done it yet.”

          Like

  4. @IHM, The first step – ‘Rape- Myths- and- Facts-Awareness’ course , is an awesome idea. What I’d like to add is – for it to be effective, it must be held at various stages of school and college education and not just once. Like, once in primary & then secondary and even in college. It could be a dedicated week long course and must be made compulsory for all students – guys and girls both. And it should also involve atleast basic information about the laws and rights of the victimes.

    1 more suggestion( not only for rape cases) – the people who are with the victim when they go to the police station, should be allowed to carry video recording devices – TO RECORD THE POLICEMANS BEHAVIOUR AND WORDS – to ensure that fellow doesn’t shame or use derogatory language or suggest to the victim to not complain. This way – if he isn’t following the procedure – he can be taken to task.

    Like

  5. The ideal solution to this would be to change the mindset of the entire nation, men and women alike, that women are NOT second class citizens and it is not ok to harass them in any way. But we are a long way from that.

    First thing that comes to mind is that the rapists think the women cannot defend themselves. Maybe women should get some basic self defense classes in college, or at their workplace, or SOMEWHERE! Knowledge that they can get harmed back in return can also be a deterrent. I agree, it is not possible to provide this to everyone, but its a start. Even some short videos telecast on TV, pamphlets distributed with basic self defense instructions can be helpful.

    Second, some basic information about what to do when you see someone being harassed. In all the incidents I have read about, there are SO many bystanders, just watching what they think is a “tamasha”! Two reasons come to mind about why folks would not help: first: they are scared for their own safety; second: they are enjoying it as well! For the first, there should be some hotline they can call in to report the incident without leaving their names. And there should be enough centers serving these hotlines, so that there will be someone there to take action within 10-15 minutes. For the second, there should be laws against simply standing and watching. They should also be considered guilty.

    Third, when the guilty are arrested, they should NOT be allowed to cover their faces. Hell, they strip the women naked, and they want to cover their faces? Not done!

    I will share this with others and hope we can collectively come up with some good ideas, and then the Verma Committee actually does something about it!

    Thank you, IHM and Chitra!

    Like

    • “For the second, there should be laws against simply standing and watching. They should also be considered guilty. ”
      I disagree. While helping out a victim is in good ethics, not helping cannot be a felony. It would be a law enforcement nightmare, trying to convict people on such a ‘law’ if there ever is one.

      One of the biggest problems in India is that we have way too many laws and a very weak system of implementing these laws, which makes every single person in the country a felon, one way or the other. This ultimately if why, as a country, we are desensitised to lawlessness and sociopathy. (In fact, sociopathic behaviours are revered in this country as being ‘chaalu’, street smart, etc.)

      Like

  6. All very good suggestions above. In addition to the suggestion of setting up a national sexual-offenders registry above, and about having the guilty cover their faces, I would like to suggest that such people should be exposed for everyone to see. And more importantly, the names of their parents along with their address should be made/announced in public. In a country like India where society and ‘family honor’ are considered so important, such an act of ‘bringing shame to the family’ can be a big deterrent for many such criminals if not all. Maybe in a few situations it can even work both ways as people would start being more attentive towards what their sons are up to.

    ‘Family honor’ – Why not use an age old drawback of the society as a tool to counter itself ?

    Like

    • I don’t think the parents’ names should be included anywhere. They are not the offenders and shouldn’t be punished. Yes, families of rape victims are shamed by society. We are trying to change the regressive thinking, not to become regressive ourselves.

      Like

      • The intent of naming the families is not primarily to shame them. But because the fear of the family being shamed may deter any person who may otherwise end up being a sex offender.

        Like

        • I agree! ANother big problem in India is that the victim and their families are put to shame. WHY??? No one is ashamed if there is a robbery in their home, or if they are involved in an accident. Then why in this case is the poor victim supposed to hide their faces and hang their heads?

          Like

  7. I can’t help but feel that none of these measures will mean anything without systemic police and judicial reforms. First, make the police independent of the executive. Second, increase the number of police personnel, and raise their salaries to attract better talent. Third, increase the number of judges and streamline the procedure for criminal cases.

    If I’m not mistaken, the police reforms act as endorsed by the Supreme Court has yet to be adopted by even a single state.

    Every single “rape specific” measure is meaningless if it takes 10 years to get justice. Which is why I was kind of hoping for the current outrage to be directed towards improving the police/judicial system instead. Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen though.

    Like

    • What sort of talent are you expecting to attract in the police? The country’s best talent is already getting into the high ranks of the police through the Civil Services. It is the lower ranks like constables who are actually in the field to enforce law. Even if you increase the salaries to many folds, do you think any highly educated and talented person would apply for the post of a constable?

      Like

        • Good point. With the sixth pay commission and the associated salary rise, I have seen a lot of my educated batchmates make their way into SI and other constable level posts in the police forces. If the trend continues, we’d see a much better police force within the next decade or so. Hopefully, no more police asking, “Why are you wearing XYZ at N time of the night?” when a woman reports rape. Or for that matter, telling me that it is my fault that my bike/laptop is stolen, because I parked it in the ‘wrong place’ or didn’t take adequate precautions.

          In any case, between an inefficient police force and a demagogic public, I’d rather bank my safety on the inefficient police force. I remember that incident during college days, when the police came to my rescue when a vengeful flatmate tried using the mass hysteria of my neighbours to incite allegations of terrorism against me. If we leave crime fighting to public judgement, we’d have people hanging innocent people every day for the entertainment or satisfaction of the masses. Especially in a country like India where people tend to think more out of emotions and petty cultural standards of morality, rather than rationality of judgement and higher ethics.

          Like

        • When you talk of police ‘officers’ then we already have an efficient system to recruit talented individuals to such posts. But ‘officers’ do not handle law enforcement on the streets. They can only supervise the subordinate personnel. How do you expect to attract talented people in those ranks even by increased salaries is what I would like to know. And more than talent, it’s their mindset that causes a problem. We all expect the best for India, but sadly the reality is very different. A high salary cannot change the mindset of a person and thus, we cannot match the police force of developed countries such as the UK, USA, etc.

          Like

        • @Atheist Indian,
          More than talent it is the character and mindset of an individual that ensures the proper justice to one’s job. We have had and will continue to have people equivalent to JNU postgraduates who make their way into the top administrative and police ranks and the issue statements questioning the clothes/morals or victims. Don’t we see DGPs/IGs/SPs of police questioning the victims of sexual crimes ? Aren’t they educated or talented ? Talent or education is NOT equal to rational thinking, honesty or accountability.

          Secondly, you cannot have a constable of police being paid more than his superior officer, can you ? Then why would an ‘able’ candidate apply for an inferior post rather than for a higher ranked post ? And that leads to lesser abled individuals being recruited for lower ranked posts. I really wonder if your educated friends really opted for the constabulary.

          Like

  8. Folks Last date is 5th Jan 2013 , So please give your comment fast to the mentioned email id.
    you can see my email sent to Justice Verma : https://fakeindianbbahu.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/justice-verma-seeks-suggestions-from-public-on-rape-laws-email-id-and-fax-details-included-in-post/
    I have to send one more on
    1) speedy trial , as the victim gets stuck with this in a place and cannot carry normal shifting of places as per her job/life and has to put in time just because some useless person did some horrible act for no fault of hers.
    2) Include any type of voilation of body / oral etc as rape not just penetration in Vagina , plus it should be gender neutral too.

    Like

  9. Here was my letter:

    Hi,

    Here are a few ideas can help:

    1. Make marital rape a crime. Rape is rape regardless of who does it

    2. Rapists cannot get a lighter sentence by being “forgiven” by the victim or agreeing to marry her. Rape is a crime against the state. The offender and the victim can marry if they choose, but that won’t affect the sentencing even one bit.

    3. Ensure independence of the police force from the political class

    4. Raise the salaries of the police officers and increase the number as well. This will reduce the incentives to take bribes and also attract better talent

    5. Police officers who refuse to register FIRs or register a case of rape when demanded must be arrested. It should be made a cognizable offence

    6. “Suspension” or “Transfer” of police officials accused of rape is not a substitute for full legal punishment. The offenders must be arrested, and tried regardless of who they are.

    Hope these few suggestions will help improve the situation regarding sexual crimes in the country.

    Regards,
    Bhagwad Jal Park
    Blog: http://www.bhagwad.com/blog

    Like

  10. Most sources indicate that this Committee will be giving ‘suggestions’ re amendments and reform. My first question would be what the weight given to these ‘suggestions’ will be – will they be seriously considered and used to reform the law, or will they just be sent into a pile of other Committee reports that rarely see the light of day?

    I truly hope that the Committee’s report is considered and results in effective amendments. I also hope people are careful when they write their emails, because just calling for capital punishment/castration/ any other unreasonable form of punishment will only make a mockery out of this process. This is a very valuable opportunity for public participation, and ought to be used with caution and an informed mind.

    Thanks for sharing IHM, and I hope all stakeholders do make their voices heard.

    Like

  11. 1. I like yr “rape awareness course” idea, but would like that to encompass ideas of sexuality and personal space, ie; like the fact that while the road is a public space, using it to leer, jeer at or grope women is a violation. Basic ideas like the fact that women are individuals in their own right and hv right to wear and do what they like.
    2. Set up frequent checks where policewomen act as “decoys” to catch potential molesters in public places. If these r frequent enough and offenders are publicly shamed/punished, it will dissuade others.
    3. Run ads. Which reinforce the rights of women : against street molestation etc. and inform public of punishment for offenders.
    3. Foeticide, dowry system are indirectly related to all this. Gov. Must enforce strict banning of sex-determination, aborting female fetuses. Fast track courts must also be set up to handle dowry cases.
    4. Have strict action against media (film, ads, print) which objectify women.

    Like

  12. @ Kay
    One of the reason why Asian parents are so obsessed with controlling their sons’ and daughters’ lives is because the cultural practice of shaming parents for the kids’ misdeeds already exists. It is also the primary motivator where parents go to great extents to ‘save face’ by doing whatever they could, to make their progenies look less guilty of a crime.

    Also, it is unethical to involved non-actors in a crime. In our haste to dissuade criminals, lets not get into emotional outrage and create a new set of victims. No matter how lax they are as parents, a rapist is the only one accountable for his/her actions, not his her parents (unless the parents are actively involved in abetting/covering up the crime). It will ultimately make us no different from those to shame rape victims to protect their tribal/family honour.

    Like

    • Atheist Indian, I never suggested of putting the onus of a sex crime on the parents or family of the culprit. Neither did I say that parents or family should be accountable for the actions of such criminals. All I was suggesting that such a provision could help in deterring prospective criminals as hopefully, very few would be fine with their families paying for the crimes they did. Yes, such a practice of shaming has existed in the society, but making it inevitable and public may deter future criminals.

      Once again, my suggestion doesn’t hold the intent to target the ‘non-actors’ of a crime, but just as a warning to prospective criminals. If this is not feasible then what else can deter criminals ? Obviously strict punishment doesn’t seem to affect such individuals anyways.

      Like

  13. Also, I thin raising salaries of the police and giving them more autonomy from the political manipulation would go a long way into attracting better talent. Better talent doesn’t equate JNU postgraduates, who find their way through the Civil Services; but a more educated, intuitive and talented bunch than the constables we have now. Dignity of labour cannot be socially engineered; it comes into being when labour stops being so measly and undignified.

    Like

  14. IHM,
    I think we need the Gender sensitization plan on a much broader scale because that will be the game changer. Police, politicians and school children are fine but who will sensitize the current set of adults in our country? We really need Media to do this, drilled into our minds again and again. Government need to keep a separate amount out of the budget from this. I know it is asking for the moon but unless we change the mindset of the current set of adults, things will not move.

    Like

  15. in my opinion, no change will be permanent without a change in social attitudes. along with sensitization training offered to law-enforcers, these are some steps i think would be useful, even though they may take time for the difference to show.

    1 – make sexual harassment awareness training compulsory in all schools and colleges (for teachers and admin), hospitals, government organizations, non- governmental organizations and commercial establishments at every level. the ethical wrong of it, the legal wrong of it and the punishment for the crime must be made very clear.
    also false implication of a person in such a crime must be a punishable offense, and this must be made clear in the training
    this awareness training must be not be a one off event, and must be conducted at regular intervals.
    it happens in many corporates now. no reason why it cannot become the norm everywhere, and at every level. it is not just uneducated men who have grown up in chauvinistic/patriarchal environments who harass and rape women. men from every social and financial background do it to both men and women, and what is less spoken about, maybe because it is less common, is that women also harass men sexually; a woman harassing a man is no less wrong than it happening the other way.

    2 – sex education must be compulsory in all schools for the students with trained counsellors offering the programme, rather than a school teacher. sexual harassment awareness counseling must be offered at the appropriate level for school and college students, again with the ethical and legal wrong of it, and the punishment for the crime being made very clear.

    3 – rape is a violent and extremely invasive crime, whether it is committed against a man or a woman, and should be treated as such, no more, no less.

    let us focus on making the world both inside of the home, and outside of it, safe, as much for women as it is for men, and not make either gender the villain or the victim.

    Like

  16. 1) The language and wording of laws needs to be looked at immediately. The appalling and archaic phrases like “Intention to insult the modesty of a woman or outrage the modesty of a woman” must be done away with. They reflect a patriarchal mode of thinking. The question that looms large is what exactly constitutes modesty? The term “modesty” is centred on words like “womanly propriety”, “chastity”, “decency” and so on. What if a woman is immodest? What if she is not inhibited or doesn’t observe conventional proprieties in speech, behaviour, or dress? Does it give any man the right to misbehave with her, to violate her bodily autonomy?
    2) Even today in many cases of rape the judiciary adopts a linguistic strategy whereby it refuses to name the offence i.e., the judges are often reluctant to use the word “rape”. The discursive representation of rape as an expression of “erotic impulses”, “lust ridden acts”, “Lascivious propensity of man”, “simmering sex urges”, “passion”, “lewd immoral and unholy behaviour” where “bestiality defines not rape but lust” is still widespread. Such voyeuristic narrative builds up the ground for ideological condoning of rape and reiterates rape as a normal conduct of a man, blurring the lines between sexual subjugation and sexual pleasure. It normalizes sexual violence. Further, Courts perception of “modesty, chastity/virginity, shame, honour” as structuring a woman’s body and her life shapes the delivery of justice. The discourse on rape needs to de-eroticised, and pronouncements of judgements in cases of rape/sexual assault/molestation/sexual harassment should be framed in impersonal terms which promote these as criminal acts.
    3) The restrictive meaning which is currently attached to penetration is inadequate considering that many cases of rape/sexual assault and child sexual abuse include forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal. Therefore it is necessary that rape/sexual assault be redefined as being penetration of vagina/ anus/urethra with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, when the victim doesn’t consent to the activity, when the victim is unable to give informed consent (such as when they are asleep or otherwise incapacitated or if they are developmentally disabled, or are suffering from severe mental illnesses) and when there is passive submission by the victim due to force/coercion or fear induced by serious threats. Further penetration to any extent even the slightest has been adopted by many countries as amounting to sexual assault/rape and this could very well be adopted by our country.
    Note: I firmly believe that If someone agrees to a sexual act but then wants it to stop somewhere in the middle whether because of pain, any form of discomfort or lack of enjoyment or any other reason whatsoever., it needs to stop. A person’s right to withdraw their consent during the act needs to be recognized. Everyone should have the right to say “stop” and expect their sexual partner(s) to stop. For the detractors of this argument, being able to withdraw consent to sex does not mean being able to say after a fully consensual sexual encounter “I now withdraw my consent” and go file rape charges. I am pointing it out because I am not sure if such a clause pertaining to withdrawal of consent any time during the act can be added to the legal definition of rape in India. I think even if this cannot be done legally, this should be looked down upon socially and a common respect for one’s sexual partner and, an honest and open communication about sex and consent should be encouraged.
    Further, people are arguing both in favour as well as against making the rape laws gender neutral. Personally I believe that laws should be gender neutral i.e., address the needs of everyone however I do recognize that the kind of perceived and real threat of rape/sexual assault/sexual harassment women live under everyday is something men rarely have to go through. The fact is that although men can be victims of sexual assault, more than 90% of rapes are committed by men against women (Crowell & Burgess, 1996) and for both men and women close to 99% of their rapists are males. (Again, for detractors of this argument this doesn’t mean that 99% men are rapists, in fact it is quite the opposite) Therefore rape/sexual assault/sexual harassment is a form of gender violence and should be recognized as such. So even if these laws in the current scenario are not made gender neutral it doesn’t mean that there should be an absence of a framework that recognizes the various forms of sexual violence against boys, men and LGTB community. Separate laws should be made or clauses should be inserted to address sexual violence perpetrated against them. But first Section 377, Indian Penal Code, 1860 which criminalizes consensual sex between two adults of the same sex should be repealed and there should be the inclusion of a separate provision to punish child sexual abuse. It should also be recognized that though rare, female perpetrators are found in cases of statutory rape and child sexual abuse.
    4) Special programs in consultation with judicial and other officers in charge of prosecution services and experts on women’s, children’s, and health rights should be organized for prosecutors on proceedings related to rape and other sexual offenses, and on the rights of survivors. It should be ensured that all cases of sexual assault are tried by special courts which are manned by judges, prosecutors and counsellors, `especially trained/sensitised to issues of sexual assault’.

    5) The investigation and trial of sexual offences should be time-bound and should be concluded within six months to twelve months.
    6) I am not sure if something has been done to correct the law in India where rapists are “punished” by being required to marry the woman they raped. If it has not been done, then it must be done now. It’s needs to be recognized that what is supposed to punish a rapist results in a woman being pawned off unto her rapist, giving the rapist legal right to rape the woman every day if he pleases.
    7) This brings me to the marital exception. This exemption I believe is based upon the belief under which the wife is regarded as the husbands’ chattel. She is supposed to have given a general consent to her husband as a natural implication of the marriage. India must allow for prosecution of rapes that occur within marriages. The laws need to recognise that husband and wife are equal partners in marriage and it is unacceptable that by marriage the wife submits herself irrevocably to sexual intercourse in all circumstances. This should not be overlooked citing “excessive interference in marital relationships”
    8) Information about victim’s previous sexual behaviour and history that is used to humiliate the victim or as an evidence to disqualify the victim’s testimony should not be admissible in courts. As it stands now, a 2003 amendment to the Indian Evidence Act says that the defense cannot cross-examine the prosecutrix about her “general immoral character yet questions about character have not been stamped out of trial court practice because the extent to which such questions are allowed or disallowed is dependent on the sensitivity and personal beliefs of the presiding judge.
    9) “Indian courtroom proceedings related to rape routinely discuss the state of the girl’s or woman’s hymen. A common misconception underlying these proceedings is that the hymen is like a closed door sealing the vaginal opening, which is necessarily “broken” on “first intercourse.” The hymen is actually just a collar of tissue around the vaginal opening that does not cover it fully. Especially in pubertal and post-pubertal girls and women, it becomes elastic. Contrary to the medico-legal significance attached to the hymen in Indian rape trials, the international consensus is that the examination of a woman’s or girl’s hymen cannot indicate definitively whether she is a ‘virgin’ or is ‘sexually active.’ ‘Old tears’ or ‘laxity’ of the hymen and vagina do not prove that a girl or woman is ‘habituated to sex,’ because they can be caused by exercise, physical activity, or the insertion of tampons or fingers, among other events not related to sexual intercourse”.
    In the light of the above-mentioned facts there should be immediate nationwide prohibition of the finger test and its variants from all forensic examinations of female rape survivors. This archaic forensic procedure is highly unscientific, highly arbitrary, inherently subjective, inhuman, degrading, and has no forensic value, according to forensic and medical experts. It is also legally irrelevant. The question of whether a woman has had any previous sexual experience has no bearing on whether she consented to the sexual act under consideration.
    Further doctors should be instructed not to comment on whether they believe any girl or woman is “habituated to sexual intercourse”. All senior police officials must ensure that police requisition letters for forensic examinations do not ask doctors to comment on whether a rape survivor is “habituated to sexual intercourse.” It should also be communicated to trial and appellate court judges that finger test results and medical opinions about whether a survivor is “habituated to sexual intercourse” are unscientific, degrading, and legally irrelevant, and should not be presented in court proceedings related to sexual offences.
    10) “There is no informed, uniform, or sensitive procedure. What guides the testing is the personal belief of the police and the doctor.” Therefore uniform guidelines and policies specifying how forensic evidence can be collected in a manner that respects survivors’ rights, and also what types of forensic evidence should be collected must be issued. This protocol should be developed in a transparent manner and in consultation with women’s, children’s, and health rights advocates, doctors, and lawyers. Moreover, it must be ensured that forensic examination of survivors of sexual violence adheres to the procedural and evidentiary decisions pronounced by the Indian Supreme Court and international laws as well as standards and ethics issued by the World Health Organization.
    11) A committee must be formed to review, update, and revise medical jurisprudence textbooks on a regular basis to ensure the inclusion of the latest positions in Indian law on procedure and evidence related to sexual violence.

    12)” Develop and introduce, in consultation with lawyers and experts on women’s, children’s, and health rights, a mandatory gender-sensitive training module for medical students on treating and examining survivors of sexual violence.”

    13) The Indian police organization needs to reshape into an accountable, effective, rights-respecting, non-discriminatory institution. Principles of gender equality must be systematically integrated throughout all police procedures, protocols, rules and regulations. The same should be reinforced through organisation of mandatory gender sensitivity trainings on regular intervals say on a monthly basis. A onetime week-long or a month long “gender sensitivity training is not sufficient”. To see some real and major change in attitudes of police officers a more proactive and active approach to countering insensitive, discriminatory and victim blaming attitudes (both implicit as well as explicit) must be adopted. Special programmes and workshops by women’s, children’s, LGBT , minority and health rights experts in India focusing on major issues relating to these groups and classes as well as on busting myths that perpetuate victim blaming attitude must be held on a monthly basis. Moreover, these efforts should be supplemented by development of monitoring and evaluation tools for assessing these measures. A monthly report on how sensitively and insensitively the police officers have handled such cases must be presented to the government and other organisations working towards equality. Finally an empirical evaluation of the impact of initiatives on attitudinal changes must be done on a yearly basis to measure the progress of these programmes and considering major revisions as and when needed. This document must be available on a public domain.

    14) Many countries like U.K. and Canada for example have one-stop multidisciplinary centres that provide survivors of sexual violence with integrated services, including physical and psychological care. Staff members at such centres offer medical aid and psychological counselling using standard treatment and examination protocols. They are trained to be sensitive to the needs of assault survivors and to treat them without bias or prejudice. In some cases, survivors may even file a criminal complaint at the centre, giving a statement in a manner that respects privacy and dignity in order to launch a criminal investigation. Many of these centres are also linked to other specialized support services, including social welfare and legal aid. India should also set up such centres in every district or city.

    To be Continued in other comment..

    Like

  17. I have a few suggestions and I’ll categorise them like this:
    Police/Administrative:
    1. Let’s have separate police forces for VIP protection and for common people. This is to ensure that the people of this country know the number of police on duty and the percentage of taxpayer money used to protect VIPs vis-a-vis ordinary people. This measure will not deter rapists but it will increase accountability and transparency in the system. No police commissioner will be able to give the excuse of lack of resources and get away with mismanagement.
    2. Better policing. The 100 dial provision doesn’t always work and I’m saying this from personal experience. Therefore we need a helpline number strictly to address sexual harassment. However, this will only make it easier to report incidents and not necessarily prevent them.
    3. There should be digital boards in prominent locations displaying directions to the nearest police station and the officer in charge along with the phone number. I’d like to see a system at every traffic signal that has a button/telephone to enable passersby to quickly report incidents to the nearest thaana. Installing this should not be a problem even in smaller towns, however maintenance and quick response is the real challenge.
    4. Every police station should have a clearly visible board with written instructions on the duties and rights of people, including the victim, attending police officers, and bystanders. The board should clearly mention that the police HAVE TO lodge an FIR if requested; the FIR should be lodged as narrated by the person lodging it and NOT as interpreted by the policeman. I know this is not the case at present and hence people should be made aware of their rights.
    5. Raising a citizen police force will be a good idea. I’d also recommend a swipe card, or GPS enabled-device to manage and control the citizen police.

    Legal – Deterrence/Punishment:
    1. A national crime register is a good idea. This should be updated at real-time (the govt has enough funds to commission and maintain a web database I believe!) and quarterly hard copies should be shared in every locality by the government machinery. In fact, this is one of the easiest tasks and can be done at the block/panchayat level. This would allow us to take advantage of the strong local culture in small towns and villages – the idea is to sensitise people about the violent nature of these criminals.
    2. Redefine rape and the punishments associated with its many forms. It may be difficult but not impossible. The basic definition of rape — i.e. penal penetrative sex without consent is hedged in with many extenuating circumstances, with the maximum punishment being 10 years rigorous imprisonment. That means, even if a woman is severely injured or incapacitated by the atrocity, the accused will probably be booked for attempt to murder, and not for rape. Also, marital rape, if at all reported and proven, has a maximum imprisonment of 2 years. I wonder why being raped by your husband should make it less of a crime than being raped by another man! This gives me a feeling that our judiciary does not take rape as a crime seriously. I’m not an expert in legal matters, but I’d want harsher punishment for rapists, with less or no extenuating circumstances – something like a chemical castration combined with life-long monthly attendance at the police station. We don’t want to feed (“reform” in politically correct language) rapists with taxpayer money, do we? One absence should raise an alarm and a manhunt can be initiated.
    3. The Indian Penal Code recognizes physical injury on the body of the victim and injury on the male organ as evidence of rape. There have been cases where a rapist has been exonerated because injury marks were absent. I think this is stupid, if not totally horrific. We need to update our laws on what is and is not considered as evidence.
    4. In another case, a court of law exonerated men accused of gang-raping a woman of lower caste on the premise that her medical tests were delayed, hence evidence was not conclusive and that men of higher caste could not commit such a crime on a low-caste woman. We need to standardise our judgments. Such stupidity has to stop.
    3. Again, I’m no expert, but a rape victim should not be asked to give multiple statements. A rape victim should not be asked to regurgitate the horrific events in a court in full view of the public. It adds to the trauma and is one of the major reasons why rapes go unreported. One statement should be recorded and used for all purposes. The circumstances of the recording should also be documented, along with any questionnaire that were used, and evidence that she was not under pressure while giving her statement.
    4. Give rape victims free access to lawyers. The expenses of going to court should not be a deterrent to reporting rapes, which is so under the present system.
    5. Give rape victims free access to medication. Hospital expenses should not be a deterrent to govt funding, since it is the failure of the govt (police) which lets such incidents happen.
    5. Give rape victims access to NGOs/counselors to ask for support if faced with social ostracism.
    6. For heaven’s sake stop declaring monetary compensation for rape victims. No one can compensate for the trauma and fear that a rape survivor will have to fight for a long time. No amount of money can compensate for the loss of trust. Politicians must stop making these cheap stunts.
    7. Make it mandatory for institutions/companies to accept a rape victim back to service, and not make any performance-related excuses to throw her out of work. (I know my country too well and hence I think we need a legal provision for this.)

    Long Term – Educational:
    1. Start a nation-wide TV and radio campaign against rape like the Miley sur humara tumhara campaign in the nineties. Adverts on cigarette packets, alcohol, and other consumer goods will help.
    2. Like the recent anti-tobacco campaigns, we should have anti-sexual harassment tickers running across certain scenes in movie theatres. I know my definition of “certain scenes” will be controversial, but I’d consider the scenes of “Ruk Ja o dil deewane” song from DDLJ as one that merits a “This is a punishable offence” type of ticker. Don’t get me wrong; I love that movie; I’m sure there are hundreds of similar examples but can’t remember the others now. Also, I don’t consider any average scene from Munni/Sheila/Fevicol for the same treatment. My point is to address the average Indian male’s misplaced notions about women and feminine expressions of desire and derision. I think that sexual harassment is ingrained in our society and it finds expression in our movies. And given their appeal, we could use these for sending the right messages.
    2. Start lessons on citizen rights (including women’s rights, and definitions of what is and is not sexual harassment) from primary school – since much of the rural population drop off after primary school if at all they go to school.
    3. Repeat #2 in high school, college, and university.
    4. Teach our girls to fight. I know for a fact that Indian families teach the opposite to little girls. It’s time to change that.

    Like

  18. If it is ok for Indian mothers to teach their daughters not to have sex before marriage when they reach puberty why cant the Indian Mothers teach their sons not to rape when they reach puberty ??? All the hype about respecting women and all is bull crap coz I am sure those 6 animals must have been respecting their mothers since the time of their birth but somehow that was not a deterrent when they raped a girl and inserted an iron rod into her vagina.

    Like

    • I completely agree with you. Even during the protests in Delhi, there were a lot of males who said things like – “even we have mothers and sisters at home”.

      But what about all those females who are not your mother and sister ??

      Like

    • I agree with your larger point about teaching sons not to rape/respect women, but I’m not so sure that rapists who have such utter disregard for women actually respect their mothers. Indian society pays lip-service to it’s women – respect your mother/ girls are “lakshmi” of home etc. , but in reality women often are the least respected in a home. Women in joint families start off at the lowest end of the pecking order. Females are generally raised to be subservient to their fathers/brothers/husbands, and not raise their voices to argue or give opinions. Women often eat last in a family, work tirelessly, are taunted for not bringing in enough dowry or not giving birth to sons. If there is work to be done, it will the women who fetch and carry while the man lolls about.

      Children growing up in such families see their powerless mothers verbally/physically/emotionally abused, and grow up to similarly abuse/be abused themselves. Family members might then say that they “respect” women, but what are they really doing ? They are disrespecting women – when they refuse to educate their daughter, when they demand dowry, when they cringe at the thought of the birth of another daughter, when they teach their girls to only “serve and obey”. Respect then is a hollow word, because Indian society disrespects women spectacularly.

      Like

  19. Re-posting my response, as you requested, IHM:

    First off, I think we need changes in legal definitions themselves. Rape occurs in more ways than mere penile-vaginal. For example, penetration with a foreign object should be considered rape, because it is. Penetration with intent to cause injury should be treated as aggravated rape and should carry greater penalties than ‘normal’ rape, as is the norm in many jurisdictions worldwide. Currently, such acts are prosecuted as ‘voluntarily causing hurt’. While that header is not inaccurate, it does not represent the full extent of criminality of the act. The idea here is not just to cause physical hurt, but also to inflict humiliation and degradation upon the victim. The law should take cognizance of that. We must also get rid of legal immunity provided to spouses who rape their partners.

    Second, sexual harassment should be called and treated as sexual harassment, not ‘obscenity’ or ‘outraging the modesty of a woman’. The definitions need to be made less vague and the dynamics of the act itself need to be considered frankly, without euphemistic phrasing. A cue may be taken from the workplace sexual harassment law, and physical and/or verbal contact in a public place made with intent to sexually harass an individual should be outlawed without exception.

    As far as increased convictions are concerned, that would require a paradigm shift in judiciary and law-enforcement, as I’ve pointed out before. Conviction rates aren’t a function of the laws themselves, but rather the efficiency of the prosecution infrastructure. Does everything come together like a well-oiled machine? Does political interference play a big role? Are procedures updated, streamlined and automated? Are administrators accountable for their actions? Is law enforcement available and accessible? These things matter much more than what the punishment is in terms of making people safer, because this is what ensures people are actually caught when they commit wrongdoing.

    Substantial reform is also required in evidence collection procedures, which should be aimed at encouraging witnesses to provide testimony, by making them feel comfortable and safe. This means getting rid of intrusive and humiliating evidence collection methods (a la two-finger test), well-stocked police departments and a functional witness protection program.

    Like

    • Agree with all your points.

      Quick question though, is there a system for complaints against the judiciary in India? By the general public, as well as by others in the profession? Is the legal profession self-regulated? Can people complain about comments judges make in their judgements, and is action ever taken against such judges? I know you didn’t mention his, but its just something that’s been bugging me since I read IHM’s previous post about the way some of the sexual assault cases have been decided, and the way judges have written their judgements.

      Like

      • In India, the judiciary is supposed to be self-regulatory, and although this works to some extent when it comes to lawyers, senior judges are a whole different story. There is a system of impeachment that has existed from British times, but in practice, it is basically unworkable. Typically, the only punishment for judicial malpractice is a transfer order.

        There’s a new law under parliamentary consideration at this point, which seeks to make external regulation of the judiciary a little stronger. Of course, the need for regulation must be balanced against the need for independence of the judiciary from governmental and public interference.

        Ordinary people (third parties to cases) cannot complain against court judgments except under very special circumstances, through laid down channels. For the most part, criticizing court orders and specific judges too much will run you the risk of being prosecuted for contempt of court.

        Like

        • Thanks for the info! I know it can be difficult to balance judicial accountability and independence. Interesting that the only possible punishment is a transfer order. I was interested because even if cases get reported, and prosecuted, as we have seen, judges hold the final decision, and if they are disinclined to do what is right, there should be a mechanism to hold them accountable. Although, even here in Canada (as I’m sure you know), judicial complaints rarely result in anything more than a slap on the wrist, if that. But, at least we have a complaint mechanism, and the general public can make complaints.

          For the most part, criticizing court orders and specific judges too much will run you the risk of being prosecuted for contempt of court.

          That’s horrible! What is the common person supposed to do when faced with a judge who certainly doesn’t deserve his or her seat and is clearly biased?

          Like

        • What is the common person supposed to do when faced with a judge who certainly doesn’t deserve his or her seat and is clearly biased?

          Nothing beyond appealing to a higher court (if personally involved in the case).

          If you’re interested, there was a rather intense Lok Sabha debate on the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill last year, which is being considered as the way forward in this regard:

          http://164.100.47.132/newdebate/15/9/28122011/11To12am.pdf

          The relevant portion starts at page 7541; you can safely ignore the eight pages before that. It’s a delicate matter, certainly. The Indian constitution provides the judiciary great latitude and protection. In today’s climate, though, we must ask how much is too much.

          Like

        • Thanks for all of that! I did go and read it, and it was an interesting read (apart from the Hindi, which I’m no good with :P). It’s nice to know that there was an attempt to include non-judicial members in the committee, even if they are jurists (p. 7551). I’m glad something is being attempted to hold judges accountable.

          Like

  20. It doesn’t start with rape. It ends with rape. Things need to change at the start. What happens to Indian teenagers who cat-calls girls on the street, or shout obscenities at them, or “accidentally” or deliberately touch them without consent ?

    All too often: *nothing*

    Not everyone who starts with these and similar “minor” transgressions will escalate until it ends in rape – but a few will. The lack of negative feedback on the minor transgressions will teach them that it’s okay, that they’re allowed, that consent does not matter, and that acting abusively towards women is acceptable and unpunished.

    Rapists are a tiny minority. But many, perhaps even most will stand silently at the side when a buddy shouts some obscenity at a woman on the street – rather than say something like “Hi, would you stop behaving like an idiot?”.

    If that was the reaction most got from their surroundings on minor transgressions, they would learn a different lesson: They’d learn that it’s *not* okay to act abusively towards women.

    Rapes would diminish in short order, as would the less serious, but much more common forms of abusive behaviour such as street harassment.

    Like

  21. Rape cases can be brought under control but not erased all together.
    As a woman i feel we need to educate our young generation about crime against woman the same way we have sex education included in our syllabus.
    It is high time we cultivate a thought of respect for a woman in our children irrespective of gender.

    The main drawback of this legal process is delayed proceedings, we should have a system wherein these cases are closed within 2 years of crime.

    In many of the rape cases, the accused is know to the victim, so when a rape which is committed, is not on the spur of moment, its well thought, so if we have stringent punishment then at least we can refrain one from committing the same.

    Like

  22. Many commentators here have already raised important points and have provided good solutions. Therefor I will take up something that I believe needs to talked about-“the bystander effect”
    This phenomenon is very prominent in India whether it’s a big city, a small town or a village.
    –> Bystander effect refers to a “social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present. The mere presence of other bystanders greatly decreases intervention. As the number of bystanders increases, any given bystander is less likely to notice the incident, less likely to interpret the incident as a problem, and less likely to assume the responsibility for taking action. In the end, nobody takes action, and consequences can be dire”

    Several factors can account for this kind of inaction and apathy:
    a) social influence and pluralistic ignorance:bystanders monitor the reactions of other people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is necessary to intervene. Each person uses others’ behaviour as clues to reality. Since everyone is doing exactly the same thing (nothing), they all conclude from the inaction of others that help is not needed.
    b) The other major obstacle to intervention is known as diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when observers all assume that someone else is going to intervene and so each individual feels less responsible and refrains from doing anything.”
    c) audience inhibition: “The norm of minding your own business” tell us that we should not interfere in an event between two strange people. Overcoming this norm requires a tremendous psychological effort and the prospect of intervening in a situation where we are not wanted is seen as exceedingly embarrassing and is to be avoided at any cost. This of course attenuates our tendency to intervene and help a fellow human in need, especially if the need for our intervention is not fully clear and the risk of embarrassment is considerable.
    d) Deciding whether to intervene in an emergency situation is a complex series of mental gymnastics. Bystanders often weigh the costs of intervening (embarrassment, effort, danger) against the possible costs associated with not helping (self-blame and censure from others), rewards associated with helping (self praise, victim gratitude) and rewards associated with not helping (continuation of other activities). The final decision to intervene or not is the result of this calculation and helping behaviour is essentially motivated by maximizing the gains for the self, rather than being motivated by altruism and a genuine will to aid your fellow man.
    e) In some groups, particularly those characterized by high cohesiveness, directive leadership, and homogeneity of group members say for example a village community where bystanders watch women being stripped, raped, beaten and paraded, the phenomenon of “groupthink” can be held responsible, The fear of being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group, cause group members to suspend critical thinking and engage in reciprocal encouragement of the group’s chosen path of action. In groupthink, the individual places the responsibility on the group’s consensus decisions, when in fact these decisions actually are a result of a dysfunctional process hampered by the absence of individual responsibility and critical thinking.
    f) ”Just world-hypothesis” – a term coined to capture the tendency for people to want to believe that the world is “just” so strongly that when they witness an otherwise inexplicable injustice they will rationalize it by searching for things that the victim might have done to deserve it can also explain inaction on part of bystanders.
    g)Lastly, normalization of violent behaviour in a society serve to perpetuate apathy or inaction.
    h) It also seems that people with higher ethical values, beliefs in equity are more likely to help

    I believe it’s important to understand this phenomenon and the reasons for it. Once we are aware of it, we can develop various strategies to counter and overcome bystander effect.
    we need to arm people with intervention strategies but above all a fundamental belief that their actions matter.

    Like

    • Very good points, but my question is “how”? How do we make ordinary people, mostly illiterate, go against precedents set by myth, religion, and social conditioning into behaving differently, according to the values we, the English speaking citified junta believe in?
      For this to happen, we’d need a massive literacy drive, introduce lessons on correct and incorrect sexual behavior from school (which by the way, will go against many religious texts), and before that we’d also need to update the teacher training curriculum and have teachers learn by rote what they need to teach students whether or not they believe in these themselves. You see, the problem of sexual violence against women in India is endemic, and sanctioned by many of our elected representatives. I think we also need a law like the French Good Samaritan law that makes it mandatory for a passer-by to take a victim to hospital. Oh and we also need to amend the Police Act to make the police more accountable to the people of the country, train them to handle emergency situations like the one in Delhi, blah blah blah…. do you think our political establishment would do this? Hell, do you even think they agree with us on the need to do this? I don’t think so. And therefore, the only option we have is to continue protests, have more and more legislators, former bureaucrats, etc join the movement, and pressurize the govt into action.

      Like

  23. Pingback: Rape culture « Peek Inside My Mind

  24. Rape, molestation and abductions, the crimes are numerous but low conviction rates for the same is one of the major reasons for the growing number of offences against women, point out experts.

    “Apart from other factors, the low conviction rate in the cases of rape is the biggest worry we have today. There is hardly any deterrence. Law should provide fast track courts to deal with such cases,” says Girija Vyas, Chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW).

    While there were 37,000 cases of molestation and eve-teasing in 2006-07, the conviction rate for such crimes, is below 30 per cent. For rape it is just a dismal 27 per cent.

    Brinda Karat, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), member says, “I have raised the issue in the Parliament several times that there is a need to step up conviction rate in rape cases drastically. Poor legal system, wrong understanding of policemen in these cases and lengthy procedures especially in child rape where after horrifying rounds of investigation the victim starts feeling that she is an accused and should not have registered the case, are few reasons for low conviction rate.”

    “In every 10 hours, a girl of the age of 1-10 is being raped in India. We are raising this issue and have demanded enforcement of stringent laws by government,” she adds.

    Reacting to a recent incident in which a minor was raped by a constable and his accomplice in a moving car in the national capital, Vyas says, “This is a special case and it should be dealt with a fast track court. On many occasions, complains do not get registered on time and then it is very difficult to prove that rape actually happened. It should be registered within 24 hours of the incident.”

    The accused believe they can get away with it. Officials are corrupt and easily bribed (some are even committing rapes themselves). Women are shamed and humiliated when they come forward because of the backward notion that it’s the woman’s fault (even when the ‘women’ are young children). If they make a case, it becomes public knowledge and their families and society shun them in many cases as they are then seen as ‘damaged goods’. If unmarried they will have great difficulty getting married. Courts don’t always do justice for the victim and find rapists not guilty for ridiculous reasons.

    Predators know this and take advantage of it. Even if they get caught, if they have enough money or influence, nothing will happen to them. A woman would have to turn the case into a media circus to have a chance at justice and 90% of rape victims in India would not do so out of fear and shame .

    There is a need for review in certain provisions under various laws related to rape so that victims get justice.

    The National Commission for Women has identified nine areas for review . These are:

    1. Review of the definition of rape

    2. Reduction of procedural delays

    3.Uniformity in age of consent under sections 375 and 376 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, to bring it in conformity with the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1869

    4. Whether exception to section 375 should be deleted

    5. Whether section 155 clause 4 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 needs to be amended or deleted.

    6. Whether statutory provisions are needed for compensation to the rape victim

    7. Whether provisions for counseling legal aid should be made mandatory under laws.

    8. Death penalty to persons convicted for rape

    9. Recommendation for enhancement of punishment in cases where the accused, with the knowledge of suffering from HIV infection/AIDS, infects the victim as a result of rape.

    Like

  25. 15)Make rape a non-bailable offense. Have a mandatory minimum sentence for sexual assault/rape if such a provision doesn’t exist. Recognize the complexity of sexual assault, particularly when the parties know each other and the fact that social interaction with the accused before the sexual assault , absence of physical resistance & absence of severe physical injuries (as fear of serious injury or death and trauma can cause some victims to become immobilized), and certain post-assault victim behaviors(because there is a wide range of reactions and behaviors that victims exhibit during and in the aftermath of sexual assault, and it is erroneous to assume that a victim should behave in any particular way) do not imply consent.

    16) Make a provision so that victims doesn’t have to face the accused person in court if they do not want to. Make arrangements so that a victim can give evidence from a private room away from the courtroom, which is then transmitted to the courtroom via
    a television. Alternatively, if the victim wishes to give evidence in the courtroom but, it must be ensure that they don’t have to see the accused, that they can request that a
    screen or partition be used.

    17) People often don’t report sexual assault when it first happens, for a number of reasons. The court should take such delays into account and there should be no time limits in reporting sexual assault. The defence should be limited in how it may use any delay as
    an argument against one’s credibility as a witness.

    18) Statutes should also be set forth regarding victim’s right to be informed of their rights, as well as the resources available and the right to available medical and psychological assistance.

    19)Sex workers are deeply devalued and dehumanized as a class and they have to go through all kinds of sexual and physical abuse just because their profession is not considered honourable and legal. Police and Judges and society at large tend to dismiss their reports of being raped. Their right to decide whom they want to provide their services to, and to decide what kind of services they need to provide must be recognized. Sex workers deserve safety and they deserve human rights.
    Further a separate hotline number could be set up to exclusively deal with the complaints of sexual assaults/ rapes by prostitutes, so that whenever they feel threatened, they have a legal recourse and they do not have to compromise with their dignity, and safety.

    20)Judiciary, senior police officials, political leaders, parliamentarians and other major public figures occupy a unique position and insensitive remarks made by them where they put the blame on victim, perpetuate rape myths, shame victims and ask for women’s freedom to be curbed reinforce such attitudes among the masses and allows for tacit acceptance of sexual violence against women. This is part of the reason why the attackers often do not see their actions as crimes, find themselves free to rape/sexually assault/molest/sexually harass again and again. Therefore they should be held accountable for such remarks. In fact if possible introduce a code of conduct for them regarding their behavior and comments about sexual violence, gender issues, minority issues.

    21) Put a stop to the use of the word “Eve-teasing” -euphemistic expression for sexual harassment at least at judicial, political and police level. This expression conceptualises women as eves, temptresses who provoke men into sexual titillation. This popular perception of sexual harassment posits the phenomena as a joke, harmless fun where women are both a tease and deserve to be teased and trivializes serious issue of sexual harassment that women face in public spaces (something constantly reminds them that their bodies exist in a constant state of both perceived and actual vulnerability to those who do not see them as fully human.
    and that despite equal rights awarded by the constitution they have second class status in the society “where mindset of men is such that they consider women as property to be used and thus owned”) and aids victim blaming attitudes. It conflates a crime with bad manners and innocuous fun. So call it what it is-street sexual harassment.
    Moreover, address it seriously because public harassment has emotional and psychological consequences and limits opportunities for girls and women just as effectively as outright discrimination.While rapists are a minority, majority of men indulge in sexual harassment of women in public places.

    22)Launch a long time public awareness campaign:
    a) against sexual harassment (in both public spaces as well as workplaces) rape and sexual violence perpetrated against women as well as child sexual abuse. Send out a strong message to anyone thinking about committing such offences.
    b) to challenge the victim blaming myths that exist about rape and sexual violence and child abuse.
    c)to provide information on how to report a suspected crime safely and effectively.
    Use both TV and radio as medium for this initiative.
    Hang flyers and digital boards around your market places, parking lots, malls and other prominent areas with the reminder that sexual harassment/molestation is a crime. Create mirror stickers to be displayed in public toilets. Whatever means is used, clearly define what exactly constitutes rape/sexual assault/ harassment. Put up posters in market places, public transportation, government schools and universities and other public institutions against sexual violence and with tips and advice on where to seek help.

    23) Ensure that every school and college has mandatory readings,and classes on”gender sensitisation, gender violence and equality” as a part of their curriculum provided by people who are trained and sensitised to these concerns and issues. Develop and introduce uniform policies and procedures for preventing and responding to gender-based violence in educational settings whether private or public. Have codes of conduct for teachers, school employees, and students that prohibit all forms of sexual violence and harassment at school Educate teachers/professors, school/college officials, and other relevant actors about how to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and violence. Ask schools and colleges to put in to place counsellors and support services for children who are subjected to such abuse.

    24) Introduce comprehensive sex-education in all educational institutions.

    25) Hold media accountable for insensitive reporting of sexual violence.

    Like

  26. edited*
    16) Make a provisions so that a victim doesn’t have to face the accused person in court if they do not want to. Make arrangements so that a victim can give evidence from a private room away from the courtroom, which is then transmitted to the courtroom via a television. Alternatively, if the victim wishes to give evidence in the courtroom but do not wish to face the accused, then inform them that they can request for a screen or partition to be used.

    Like

  27. Another point that I forgot to mention earlier and which can be subsumed under point 22 is:

    Make it clear that it is as much a woman’s right to be out in public places at any time, wearing anything, doing as she pleases(as long as they are not infringing on anybody else’s right or violating some law) as it a man’s right. Nobody is doing them any favours. It’s not a privilege that police, civil society, parliamentarians are extending to them, rather it is their constitutional right through government sponsored campaigns and public statements.

    Like

  28. I really like the ideas presented by the organization Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA). From this site http://www.changemakers.com/node/84334:

    “MAVA’s theory is that a focused, long-term effort with these young men can significantly prevent gender-based violence. Yuva Maitri selects young people from colleges and rural communities who possess the leadership skills and creativity to become “communicators” who will train their peers in an intense, yet sensitive manner, to communicate with other young men on gender, healthy relationships, masculinity and sexuality-related matters.”

    Maybe encouraging parents to have the dreaded “sex talk” with their kids but include responsibility and respect towards others rather than just focusing on possible consequences of unprotected sex.

    Like

  29. Hey IHM,
    I am hoping that you will compile all the relevant solutions and e-mail the proposed ideas to the commission along with commentators signatures. Could you please confirm if you intend to do that or not?

    Like

      • Hey IHM,
        I did plan to send an email of my solutions and ideas but I haven’t been able to do that as of yet as I have been keeping busy. Anyhow I believe it would better if you could compile all these ideas and solutions that commentators here have proposed and send an email to the committee bearing our signatures. I certainly think an email on everybody’s behalf is better than all of sending the committee separate individual emails. I also believe that our signatures and collective approval of these suggestions would strengthen the credibility of this email.

        Lastly I would like to thank you for providing all of us this platform, I have never read so many sensible and really good solutions at one place. Every Petition I have signed regarding this, I have only seen blood lust. People asking for death penalty ( something I am opposed to on a philosophical ground as well as on grounds of how death penalty might make matters worse by making conviction rates lower than they already are and of course there is this very real chance that those committing sexual assaults might actually murder their victims), treating this as an isolated case and many actually saying how this should not have happened but you know girls and women do bring it upon themselves.

        Like

        • I certainly think an email on everybody’s behalf is better than all of us* sending the committee separate individual emails.

          Like

      • Hey IHM,
        I’d like to make one last point, if you decide to collate all the solutions
        and email them, then please remember that two separate commissions have been set up. There is one Justice verma commission (the one I pointed out to you earlier) and another called the usha mehra commission

        “The usha mehra commission will suggest measures to make Delhi and NCR safer for women. It will submit its report within three months, which will be tabled in Parliament along with action taken by the government.

        “Any information, suggestions, measures and responses to improve the safety and security of women particularly in the National Capital Territory of Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) may be sent through email at usha.mehracommission@nic.in or through Fax at 011-23093750 latest by January 10, 2013″

        Therefore, all the solutions related to legislation-anything that requires backing by law should be sent to justice verma commission while the ones that do not need backing up by the judiciary but can be implemented by the government (like more street lights or as some one suggested putting up “digital boards in prominent locations displaying directions to the nearest police station along with the phone number of the officer in charge) should be sent to Usha mehra commission.

        Also as somebody pointed out the Justice Verma will only accept suggestions till January 5, 2013.

        Like

  30. Reblogged this on Perceptions of a reluctant Homemaker and commented:
    The Delhi rape victim finally sucummbed after putting up a brave fight. The country has shoen outrage, but we need to channlesie it. Justice verma has asked citizens for suggestions on sexual harrasement and rape. Reblogged gere from Indian homemaker’s website.Some of the suggestions by readers:
    1.Make rape a non-bailable offence, 2. Create registry of sex offenders. 3. Sensitise Police force 4. Set up rape crisis centre
    Laws and course of action need to change.

    Like

  31. If you haven’t sent the email already and if it hasn’t been mentioned yet, 2 things:

    1) Provide free defense classes for all women
    2) Make stun guns/tasers legal for all women (and make pepper sprays readily available to women). I am not sure how much it’ll help (it’ll atleast delay the rapist and the woman can escape), but it might be a short-term solution.

    Like

  32. These perverts should be given soul shacking punishments that would shake their soul and soul of all others those would have ever attempted and would ever had thought of doing so. That punishment should be a lesson for all the men that have been doing any kind of crime against women and children whether it’s happening on streets or inside the homes.

    A/C TO ME SUCH BLACKGUARDS SHOULD BE GIVEN IMMEDIATE PUNISHMENT AND THAT TOO SHOULD BE GIVEN IN PUBLIC AND SHOULD BE BROADCASTED NATIONWIDE.

    Like

  33. Our hatred towards them is completely justified and as much as I want to beat them up and killed mercilessly, I’m sure you all want the same thing. But is it a solution for the million more rapists in this country ? No, it isn’t !! We need to come up with simple and effective ways of preventing such horrible cases of taking place again. Some of them are :
    1. Once an FIR regarding rape is given, unnecessary questions like ” where did he touch you ” and other disgusting questions should be avoided. The matter should be solved as quickly as possible.

    2. The rapists should be arrested as fast as possible and their faces should NOT be covered.

    3. The Court should devise 3 degrees of crime where the 3rd degree of punishment is extremely severe.

    4. Security used by all our politicians should be cut down to 1. They are not some great people who are doing any good for the country anyway.

    5. Cameras should be installed in all government transport and ID’s should be issued to all boarders of a public transport.

    6. Have better and more specialized doctors so that the government cannot just wash their hands away from the case and send the victim to a hospital abroad.

    7. It’s high time to include ” Sex Education ” in every school’s curriculum so that children at a young age KNOW the DIFFERENCE between consensual sex and rape. ( If people think that it’s against our culture to include such a topic in schools, well then isn’t rape against our culture ?? )

    Like

  34. Dear IHM , Have u sent the consolidated Suggestion mail to Justice Verma ?????
    else this debate on your forum is mindless rattling if it does reach the right place ….Sorry for the harsh words , but That is the case and 5th is the last date.

    Like

  35. Pingback: Don’t you think we should have a sex offenders’ registry of some sort? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  36. Pingback: Before trying to pose as champions of women’s issues… | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  37. Pingback: 7 things that can make ‘Rape sometimes right’. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  38. Pingback: “What do you think, blogger why Sexual Violence have increased at home in a country like INDIA which has the most peaceful religion?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  39. Pingback: Should Lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh be disbarred for their remarks and opinions expressed in the documentary India’s Daughter? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s