Five years since the gang-rape of a 23-year old in the capital left the entire nation shaken, a new Human Rights Watch report has found that survivors of sexual violence are still grappling with the same debilitating culture of humiliation, hostility and harassment across the country’s police stations and hospitals.
What is holding India back from implementing the sexual assault laws passed after Jyoti Singh’s fatal gang-rape five years ago?
The rate of filing chargesheets in rape cases is high. The conviction rate has, however, gone down post the Nirbhaya incident. If stricter laws were a solution, we should have had a better situation.
In 2015, over 7500 cases of rape were filed in which the accused was a live-in partner or boyfriend or husband, and as per NCRB, lie in the category of rape after making a false promise of marriage. Several cases have come to light where it was proven that the case had been filed just because the relationship turned sour. Many women take their cases back when the man marries them. This must be kept in mind to understand why genuine victims aren’t getting justice.
The courts in Delhi have gone on record to say that the dignity and honour of men needs to be protected in cases where false allegations are levelled against them. Justice Nivedita Anil Sharma has, in one of her judgments, asked if men falsely accused of rape should be called “rape case survivors”.’
Here are other perspectives on sexual assault laws:
Sabah K: Journalist at ThePrint, and survivor of sexual assault
Neetika Vishwanath: Lawyer, Centre on the Death Penalty at National Law University, Delhi
Manasi Phadke: Associate editor, ThePrint
Madhu Mehra: Feminist lawyer and executive director at a legal resource group on women’s equality and social justice
The laws and rules made for rape survivors are too strong. If a policeman doesn’t register an FIR, he too can be jailed. But the question is how many people are aware about these laws? There are cases of women extorting money after threatening to file rape cases.
We already have limited resources in implementing laws. When frivolous cases come up, just imagine how much time and resources are consumed.
We need a mechanism to root out false cases, without any compromise. In many cases, the complainant turns hostile. If there are factors that make a woman vulnerable once she has filed a case, then proper security and protection must be given to her so that she doesn’t turn hostile.
We also need more infrastructure, more police, more judges, etc. to implement laws. I have seen a case in a ‘fast-track’ court going on for a year. The implementation mechanism must be strengthened to improve the conditions of genuine rape survivors.
Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj is the director of documentary film “Martyrs of Marriage” on misuse of IPC 498A also known as anti dowry law.