While living within four walls in our house due to lockdown,everyone is having hard time adapting to the new normal of 2020. Everything has changed since the spread of a pandemic. India is managing to revive the economy by following Online trend. Schools and Colleges have shifted to Online platform to complete work from home and attending online meetings, we have seen a huge change in our lifestyle due to lockdown. We have seen people indulging in their hobbies as well as people struggling to reach their home.
While world is glorifying the technological achievements as well as trying to mitigate the crisis, ironically women are still struggling to be recognized as human beings. Even in the situation of pandemic, the phase of increasing acceptability of human rights, the crime of rape is an accute and persistent problem in India.
Despite the national and international focus on women’s rights, women are still victimized largely in the Indian society. Cases of Rape and sexual violence/assault cases are still being reported in the time of lockdown. This article will be focusing on cases that have been reported recently.
The Odisha Tribal girl case
A 13 year old girl in odisha’s biramitrapur was reportedly gang-raped over 4 months at the local police station. The inspector in charge of the station was allegedly one of the perpetrators, and also forced her to terminate a pregnancy.
This is the second such case in Odisha over the span of 2 months. In may, A tribal woman was raped inside a police canteen in malkangiri district. She later died from her injuries.
Both cases are shocking reminders of the crimes against people belonging to Tribal communities and lower castes in our country.
In 2018, The NCRB recorded over 42,700 crimes against members of scheduled castes or Tribes. Women and children are the most vulnerable to these crimes.
A 7 year old girl was brutally raped and killed by three unidentified men in Tamilnadu. The minor’s body was found in a shrub at the Anbal Village in the pudukottai district.
As per the prima facie evidence, she was last accompained by a neighbour who said that he was taking her to a nearby temple. Investigation is still going on. Neighbour is arrested on suspicion as he did not correctly answer in the police questions. Further investigation is under way.
The social media started trending #justiceforjayapriya to adress the concern of child rape and to seek justice.
In the last three months, may cases have been reported of fathers raping their daughters across India. A 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her father in Tamil Nadu last week. A cab driver, the accused hails from Nagapattinam district, and was arrested by the area’s all-women police force . He raped and impregnated his minor daughter repeatedly until the mother discovered the horror and took action.
He has two daughters and according to the police, the entire family shares one room to sleep. A Times Now report said the survivor complained of stomach ache and vomiting to her mother and that’s when she was taken to the hospital for check up. She was discovered pregnant and later the mother found out that her father had been reportedly raping the girl for three months.
The accused has been arrested under the POCSO Act and is in judicial custody. As per reports the girl will be admitted to one of the government homes and after that she will be sent to the child welfare committee (CWC) for counselling.
EFFECTS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE/ASSAULT ON SURVIVORS
The sexual violence leaves a multipled effect especially when it leads to pregnancy or when the violence is passed from one generation to the other. Only few survivors or victim actually report the offence and seek medical and legal support making it difficult to determine the prevalence of child sexual assaults. It requires an empowered victim, a supporting reporting environment and a responsive legal system to report such offences.
The most heinous of all crimes against women is rape. Rape is not merely an offence, but it creates a scar in the marrows of the mind of the victim. In fact, an act of rape is an attack on her individuality and creates a permanent dent causing irreparable loss to her life. In spite of the legislative measures adopted for protection of women, the intensity of rape offences has not been reduced in any country. Numerous factors are considered to be responsible for this deplorable prevailing scenario, such as, poverty, widespread illiteracy, lack of awareness, extensive economic dependence and unbridled cultural male domination, etc.
LEGAL SYSTEM AND PEOPLE
Many are hoping for a thorough reform of India’s judicial system, police procedures, social norms, and laws relating to violence against women. These hopes suggest that government intervention and the creation of new institutions is necessary to protect women. The truth is that India’s laws and stated policies are actually adequate to safeguarding the rights of its citizens. The gap lies in their implementation.
If the protests do not lead to any legal changes in the short run, we should not consider them to have failed. The social norms that are being created right now as a result of this national and international dialogue will be the true legacy of the victim and her supporters. The protests are two steps forward for women, to hope for change in the environment, to seek acceptance in the society.
India announced that more than 50 helplines have been started across India to help women facing domestic violence during the ongoing lockdown. The helplines are run by police, women welfare departments and NGOs working for the rights of women, the official said. The domestic abuse national helpline number is 181 while women police helpline numbers are 1091 and 1291.
NEED FOR SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
Humans by nature are not violent. They are social animals. It is the society that shapes their attitudes and beliefs that give rise to their aspirations. Centuries of patriarchy have conditioned men to believe in their superiority and to look down upon women as inferior beings. The cosmetic industry, media, entertainment even sports thrive on the objectification of women. We have songs comparing women to ‘Tandoori Murgi’, ‘coca-cola’ or ‘gud Ki dali’ beckoning men to consume them. The caste system is another slur on our culture and needs to be abolished. Lower caste women are raped with impunity by men belonging to higher castes. Pornography is the leading industry. Presenting women as saleable commodities, consumer culture is encouraged. Since women are reduced to mere bodies so they can be violated and ravished sans any guilt.
Laws alone cannot provide a solution for this problem. In the last decade, reporting has increased, FIR registration has been made mandatory in rape cases. We have gender-sensitive protocols for medical examination and recording of statement of the victim. Law provides for speedy investigations and fast track of trials in rape cases. What we need is better policing, making public spaces safer for women, ensuring round the clock surveillance of isolated areas and deployment of police at all strategic points. It is not harsher punishments that will deter. It is the fear of being caught and not being spared. A system that ensures that no accused can manipulate or manage to wriggle out of the clutches of law. A system that deals with rape cases expeditiously from arrest till the execution of sentence and no one is spared. The message should go out loud and clear that ‘no one is above the law’. We need to prevent rapes from happening. Prevention and not punishment is the solution and that requires concerted efforts on part of all the stakeholders.
Every Individual must respect the value of social binding,social morals and social responsibility to secure social justice.