Monday, 9 January 2012

Rape and molestation, mindset and judgments

It has been a rather sad first week of the New Year. It is difficult to change mindsets and again and again the same kind of judgments land making light of the plight of girls and women on the receiving end of gender violence.

No faith that the legal system will help
First came the news of a mother wanting to opt out of the legal system which had failed to bring justice to her daughter now 18, who had been raped in Delhi four years ago. The girl fearing ridicule and bias by the society had tried to commit suicide by swallowing acid. Her damaged food pipe had to be replaced by an artificial one and the mother informed the court that her daughter lay in a vegetable state. The mother pleaded in court that the case be closed. She expressed the family's inability and unwillingness to fight the case and seek justice any longer.

Waiting for four years is indeed a long harrowing time, especially when the authorities do not act. It leaves the victim and the family which also suffers trauma, double victimised, first by the rapist criminal and then by an inactive state system. In this case, the parents had pursued the case for four years, during which the girl's father suffered two heart attacks and her mother had to work as a maid to feed the family. There was no help from the state, monetary or otherwise.

Finally, the Delhi court ordered Rs one lakh as compensation, pointing out that the apex court too has held that subordinate courts trying rape cases have the jurisdiction to award interim compensation as the offence of rape is against the victim's basic human rights and violation of her fundamental right to life and liberty.

"I'm shocked to observe that despite this pathetic state of the victim and her family, who, I find, are feeling a sense of physical and psychological isolation, no assistance has been provided to her by the state," the judge observed, ordering Delhi Government to award her the compensation, noting the vegetative state the victim has reduced to.

The judge, who has given some gender sensitive judgments in the past, noted: "Rape of a minor not only affects her but has also a devastative impact on her entire family, which equally suffers in silence as has happened in the present case."

"It is cases like these which the Ministry of Women and Child development needs to target for restorative justice so that the medical and legal assistance, besides professional and psychological counselling, shelter and other support is provided to the victim, which, in the present, case has not been done," the judge is reported to have said.

Pack of molestors
And just as the New Year dawned we learnt of yet another very sad case of a gang of raucous men pouncing on a young girl. Check out the complete lack of restraint by a group of young men on New Year's eve in Gurgaon. A similar case had happened in Mumbai some years ago. The poor men get so out of control at the mere sight of a woman that they pounce on her.  The Hindustan Times quotes an eye witness as saying, “They were touching her initially and ended up tearing her clothes. They were passing lewd remarks in the middle of the road. I was shocked to see what could happen on Gurgaon roads."

Society should be very concerned that it raises its members to behave in this fashion. These men need urgent psychiatric help to be able to control their impulses. Otherwise they need to be put behind bars.

When we have a top cop talk of "josh food" and that "clothes can provoke men to rape" one can only wonder at the sheer ignorance of these men in powerful positions. I had the occasion to go through the training course of Haryana cops. There was just no effort made to sensitise them on  gender violence and how to deal with it. So it comes as no surprise when you find these men indulging in gender violence themselves and the rising number of custodial rapes.

In all such cases, as our top cop, society feels the women ask for it. This is what prevents women from lodging a case. In the Gurgoan case, the FIR has been registered by the policemen who got injured in the melee that followed their attempt to rescue the girl. Not by the girl. For the girl knows better. She will have to relive her trauma if she lodges a complaint. And then what? What will happen to the men? Their families will probably laugh it off. The men will continue to strut around and nothing would have changed.

Where is justice?
Now, look at another mockery of justice: The judgement given by the Bombay High court in the case of a 10-month old baby girl who was sodomised. The court actually reduced the sentence  handed out to Ramkishan Harijan, who worked as a labourer with a brick-trader in Mumbai, from 10 years to seven.years, accepting his contention that "he lost control over himself as he was living away from his family".

The Indian Express reports that in his judgment, Justice M L Tahaliyani also said that the six years Harijan had already spent in jail be taken into account. “Trial judge was aware of the fact that the appellant (Harijan) was married and (had) two children and his family was staying in Uttar Pradesh... No doubt, this by itself may not be a reason for lenient sentence. However, had it been considered in the proper perspective, the learned trial court probably would have imposed lesser sentence than 10 years,” Justice M L Tahaliyani wrote in his judgment recently. Click here for earlier shocking judgements.

Increase the sentence, keep the man locked up, for he is a beast and cannot be trusted among humans
Why should the fact that the man is married and has children reduce the sentence? In fact, there is all the more reason to free the wife legally from such a man so that she and the children have nothing to do with him. If the man is so deranged to force himself on a neighbour's child, a  10-month old baby at that and injuring her so brutally that she was left bleeding from her private parts, just think of the danger he would pose to his own wife and children. Think how cruel he could be with them over whom he has more control. So, there is all the more reason for the court to increase the period of the sentence so that he poses no threat to his own and other children. And arrange psychaitric counselling for him. For only a totally depraved and deranged being (I cannot call him human) can act in this way with a baby.

You might like to read-
Chemical castration for rapists, why not?


Indian Home Maker said...

Shocking... so not just provocation by a woman's clothing, but also staying away from family is permitted as an indirect excuse to commit a heinous crime.

I am going to link to this post and blog about Rape Culture.

shail said...

What I want to do after reading this post is scream and cry, but unable to do that too.
How can anyone give staying away from family a thought when anyone least of all a 10 month old baby is violated?

Indian Home Maker said...

PT is a lawyer and he has created this petition against the reduced sentence for the rapist who sodomised the ten month old baby girl.

Indian Home Maker said...

SV said...

Welcome back IHM and Shail,
Shail, judgments like these make you wonder what kind of a society we live in, where our bodies and well being is so negated that it is not even considered proper to give us justice. So no justice for the 18 year old girl who is confined to bed for the last 4 years, no justice for the young woman who was molested in Gurgoan and a reduced sentence for the horror who brutally sodomised the baby girl. Rape Culture, as IHM says. Looks like our justice system is promoting it.

The petition is a good idea and I will sign it.

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