‘There can’t be a uniform punishment for every case of rape’

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What are the steps required to sensitise people against crimes like rape?
To look at an issue like rape under the light of the recent case would be a case in isolation. This is one of the rarest of rare cases. To address this issue, you have to take a look at the attitude of the society towards women — cases of harassment, molestation and any act of violence against women and anything that dents the dignity of a woman. Rape is the worst form of it. So there has to be change in the mindset of the society. The police can barely do anything about it. As the keepers of law and order all we can do is to be sensitive. Since crimes against women are a fruit of the systematic problem that plagues our society, people themselves have to take a stand to rid this problem. Any kind of harassment against should be counted as a grave social problem.

What response do you expect from the people?
In this specific case, no one came forward to help the girl and her friend while they were lying unconscious on the road, bleeding. No one even came forward with a blanket. It was only after one of our PCR vans reached the spot and that the battered bodies were covered with blankets. Even a bystander has a major role to play. It is sad that no one came forward to help them. People should realise that the same thing might happen to them tomorrow.

Do you suggest any kind of deterrent measures to curb such crimes?
We believe that a fear of punishment should be created among the people, so that no one dares make such moves. If a government employee harasses a woman on the road, he should be sacked. We can’t hold a kangaroo court and bring the perpetrators to justice. It is not possible for a policeman to spot an incident like this and then bash up the guilty. A procedure has to be followed. If a policeman witnesses a case of harassment, he should immediately intervene and take the man into custody. A case can be initiated only when the victim lodges a complaint. In most cases, no one come forward to lodge a complaint.

Do you think there are any preventive measures to stop rape?
We are going to start a major campaign against rape. We are always trying to sensitise people about these issues. We recently issued a notice to all the BPOs asking them to ensure the security of their female employees during the night hours. Otherwise, they will be subjected to a legal action. This was a necessary step as most cases of harassment we get are from BPO employees who work the late hours.

In your opinion, what are the key provisions of the much talked about rape law that need to be amended?
Rape is a very complicated issue. There can’t be a uniform punishment for every case of rape. There are incidents that are less violent and different in nature from a brutal case of gang rape that we witnessed in Delhi. So the punishment in every case should be commensurate to the gravity of the crime. You definitely cannot sentence someone to death for passing a lewd comment to a girl.

There have been allegations against the police that they are insensitive towards the victims starting from lodging the complaints to legal procedures. How would you react to that?
There have been a lot of allegations against the lower rung of personnel who deal with these cases on a first hand basis. We are trying to create sense of sympathy among them and sensitise them about the crimes against women. We will be holding regular workshops with them to make them more aware of such situations.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is a good piece. I don’t agree with an important statement in the intro, however, and I doubt if much will change (everywhere, not just in India) until this is acknowledged. Rape is not about sex, period. It is a crime of extreme violence. Again, rape is not about sex. Think about it. It is a twisted, brutal expression of power over someone perceived as being less powerful. A 5-year-old child is just the most extreme example. (And boys are raped too.)

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