After Delhi gang-rape, India struggles to put words into action #Vaw


 

DELHI: A hundred days after India mourned the death of a gang-rape victim and vowed to fight sex crimes, the torn clothes and tears of Bharti Kagra bear testimony to a tide of violence that refuses to ebb.

 


AFP 

Tuesday 23 April 2013, 09:20AM


An Indian woman files a complaint in New Delhi. Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyanyana

An Indian woman files a complaint in New Delhi. Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyanyana

Kagra is one of the 812 women whom police say have been molested in New Delhi since the death of the medical student, who was brutally assaulted by six attackers in a moving bus on December 16 last year.

The student died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. The savagery of the attack triggered nationwide protests, prompting lawmakers to toughen punishments for sexual offences and pledge to make India safer for women.

Optimists called it a “turning point”, while Delhi’s under-fire top police officer said his force had been “jolted” and would institute “major changes in the way offences against women are dealt with”.

Kagra’s experiences give reason to doubt whether the outpouring of anger from women across the country, many of whom took to the streets in some cities, will result in better protection.

Carrying the clothes she says were ripped by her husband and brother-in-law during an assault on her, she struggles to register a case at a south Delhi police station where no female officers are present – even though they are mandatory under the new anti-rape law.

“First, the men humiliated me and now when I come out to seek justice the cops insult me… some even suggested that I should make peace with my husband,” she told AFP inside the police station in the Moti Bagh district of the capital.

In response to her shouts and cries, two policemen reluctantly register her complaint. Kagra allowed AFP to use her name, to publicise the problems women still face in registering such complaints.

Women currently make up only 6.5 per cent of India’s police force and major recruitment changes will be needed to enforce the new sex crime law, which requires a female officer to record molestation and rape complaints.

This ruling risks going the way of so much legislation in India – well-meaning but mostly ignored in practice. Rights groups say real change will only come when widely held patriarchal and sexist attitudes change.

“I don’t see enough initiative to change the mindset of the law enforcement agencies, especially the police,” said Ranjana Kumari, director at the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi.

However, one consequence of the Delhi gang-rape is that women are more confident in reporting sex crimes, she says.

Delhi police reported a 148-per cent leap in rape cases lodged between January 1 and March 24 compared with the same period in 2012, and a 600-per cent rise in molestation cases reported up until April 3.

It’s not just Indian women who have been targeted. A Swiss tourist was gang-raped last month while camping in central India, an offence that led to another flurry of negative headlines.

Many Western countries have warned female tourists to exercise caution in India, a move that has hit the tourism industry which earned over US$16 billion from foreign travellers in 2011.

 

The Phuket News

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Rapist in the family: The great Indian cover-up #Vaw


CHILDRAPE

by Jan 10, 2013, Firstpost

“It is true, trust me,” says Bina Jain, as she recounts one of the many incest cases she encountered in three decades of running Bapun Ghar, a women’s shelter in central Delhi. “She is my fruit after all. So what if I tasted her?” was the justification the man gave to the gynecologist for impregnating his 16 year old daughter, says Jain.

Every year, she says, the shelter gets custody of roughly twenty girls and women abandoned by families. It is a grim reflection of the treatment given to rape victims who, in some cases, are described by the families as ‘dirty’ and ‘untouchable’.

Jain rattles off cases where the rapist is the father, brother, uncle, tutor, neighbour – men known to the victim. In more than 90 percent of the rape cases booked across the country, the perpetrators are men known to the victim, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.Lenient rape laws, pathetic policing, and politicians as rapists were discussed threadbare in the wake of the barbaric gangrape in the national capital past December. But the known devil, staring in the face of thousands of girls, was once again spared. And he always gets away with his crime as the girl is asked not to speak, for the family’s honour, for what the father owes her, for better future of her siblings, for the tradition of submission, for the sake of being an Indian girl.

The overall conviction rate in rape cases in 2011, as per NCRB, was an abysmal 26.4 percent. Soumya Bhaumik, legal consultant, Centre for Social Research, Delhi, says the pressure on the victim from her family is one of the primary reasons for the low conviction rate. “It is common in urban and rural settings. Therefore, it is extremely courageous when in such cases a girl testifies in court,” says Bhaumik, “As opposed to the cases when the family pressurises her or sweet talks her to withdraw the complaint.”

A girl in certain social set-ups in India does not have to go further than her home where an all-pervasive devaluing of the girl begins from the day she is born. “It begins with the news of the baby girl being born. Everything else follows. Throughout her upbringing, she is considered dispensable. This is why no one stands up to protect her when she is in trouble. Even the best of the people in the society follows this dominant trend,” says Akhila Sivadas, director, Centre for Advocacy & Research, Delhi.

As long as these dynamics will prevail, the victim will be expected to not only endure the crime but live in close proximity with the predator. The matter becomes a family secret. And the men in the garb of ‘family’ or ‘friend’ or ‘neighbour’ never feel guilty. In cases where the victims are firm about their decisions at the cost of ‘bringing shame to the family’, they face severe consequences. They are stigmatised. They are rejected. They are blamed for bringing disgrace to their families.

The decision whether to restore the victim to her family or not is often the biggest dilemma a practitioner of rehabilitation faces in such cases, says Dr Nimesh Desai, director, Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences, Delhi. “Ethically, we should bring the culprit to the book because we cannot become party to the cover- up. But there is always a hidden danger in convincing the victim to talk against the offender because ultimately the girl would go back the family and they might punish her for being courageous.”

There are various reasons why a rape victim in India cannot look for refuge outside the family. One is that fact that the very notion of a girl moving out of the home and thereby detaching herself from ‘relations’ has a negative connotation in the Indian milieu, writes Sudhir Kakar, novelist and psychoanalyst, in The Times of India. While Kakar is commenting on the women who have migrated to big cities to work or study, it applies just as well to rape victims.

Another problem faced by the victims of sexual abuse and rape in India is the lack of knowledge about governmental support or resources available for rape victims. “There is immense recognition of what she goes through, but no reactionary or proactive mechanism to address the causes of the same. We lack a coherent governance framework which can address the why and how of the problem,” says Sivadas.

For example, very few rape victims avail the compensation that they are entitled to from the state under the section 357A of the CrPC. Very few social welfare bodies are aware of the fact that the Centre has been delaying the implementation comprehensive rape victims’ relief scheme that was drafted following by the National Commission for Women following a Supreme Court writ petition in 1994. According to the draft of the scheme, a rape victim is entitled to financial support of upto Rs 3 lakh and vocational training, jobs from the government.

There are no easy answers to addressing a crime committed by a family member. And the answers that could have come to help aren’t out there known to people. There is no exposing of the great family cover- up anytime soon. And therefore continues a vicious cycle where the rape victim has no option other than to succumb to fate, tradition and family.