The entire human race owes it to the female race which nurtures and initiates the cycle of life. But yet the most humiliating, demeaning and debasing act of rape is committed by males on females throughout the world. Historically victorious armies around the world have also used Rape as a weapon to subjugate the vanquished. Even now the Rape as instrument of subjugation continues in many parts of our world.
If we see the status of rape in our country, the situation remains appalling. Eighty nine women are raped every day including four women murdered after rape every five days. Every fourth rape is that of a minor. 50 percent of the victims are of the age group between 18 to 30 years. But our response against this heinous crime of the most brutal nature in our country has always been half hearted leading to repeat of this heinous crime. This frequent repeat clearly underlines that something is grossly wrong in the way we are dealing with this problem in spite of having the best fine-tuned legal systems and stringent laws. Hence we need to analyse the root cause for our casual approach to this horrid problem and take corrective measures if we need to sentence it to death.
Substantial research has been carried out in this area by social scientists across the world who have brought out multifarious reasons and causes which can be broadly categorised as social, psychological, economic and political factors including the role of the state power. Some of the social factors which stand out is that we live in a society that is Patriarchal in structure. The patriarchal societal norms around the use of violence as a means to achieve objective of domination have been strongly associated with the prevalence of rape which gets strongly reinforced by women accepting domestic violence as a part of their sub culture. No doubt in our country one in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their life time. Thirty percent of the population in the age group 15 to 49 experience physical violence .Six percent of the population in the same age group had experienced sexual violence once in their life time, 31per cent of the married women have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence. To top it 65percent men believe women should tolerate violence to keep the family together. They go to the extent of even ostracising the rape victim and blame the victim for Rape. The social attitude of misogyny deeply embedded against women in our society is proof for the above details
The above social causes are further amplified by the commodification of women in our cinema world which is unabated in form of vulgar songs, In addition to the films, the world of pornography latently encourages treating of women as very cheap commodity and fantasising sex leading the teenagers to experiment what they see. The influence of pornography on teenagers as well as the adults leading to eroticising the domination, humiliation and coercion of women is enormous which manifest as gang rape in extreme cases.
Hence the first initiative to stifle the progression of the Rape in our country and sentence it to death has to be taken up by the society. It needs to first start at the macro and micro level of the society. At the macro level which is family, the emotional connect the parents have with their children has to be very strong and selfless. The parents need to set a high bar of mutual respect and exemplary sexual conduct before the children. Bring up girl child without any gender discrimination and economically empower them as equals with their brothers. Mothers need to get out of their soft corner for male child .Bring up male child to respect women and treat them with dignity and care. Impart sexual education and spread awareness on vulnerability of girls to sexual assault, preparing the girls on self-defence and give them alpha confidence.
The societies at the micro level should develop a culture to respect and protect women so that they are in a safe environment. . Society should never disregard women’s rights and safety. They need to understand that violence against women degrades the entire society and accordingly take corrective measures
They should go out of way to support and reintegrate rape victims. They should be vigilant to identify deviant male behaviours in the society and take corrective measures. They should be aware of the area which make women vulnerable and take up with the state for remedial measures.
On the psychological aspect of Rape, many psychologist have opined that the ideology of male sexual entitlement, strong male superiority with emphasis on dominance, physical strength and male honour contributes to such tendencies. The concept of the males as sexual initiators and women as sexual gate keeper latently embedded in the teenage gender biased mind, reinforced by the lack of sensible socialisation of male and female teens also leads to this problem. It is also opined by the scientist that the crisis of masculine identity can also manifest into sexual violence. This reinforcement of the social and cultural attitude that are compliant in rape and sexual harassment is another reason. Hence all the aspects need to be tackled in a systematic manner while bringing up our male child.
Let us now analyse the political aspect of rape. The political discourses after heinous rape cases is an important indicator. All issues other than questioning the judicial process for not logically concluding the sentence in time gets discussed. Rapes are politicized which includes blaming the previous governments. None of the politicians touch on the core issues which is letting us down with repeated gang rape with brutal murders across our country. Some parliamentarians go to the extent of advocating Mob lynching in the floor of the parliament The time has now come for the politicians to approach the problem in a more introspective and objective manner to disprove what George Orwell quoted on the political language. “Designed to make lies sound truthful and give solidity to the wind “.
They political system need to tune in for a constructive role in the fight against this crime .The political system should work out legislation to make it mandatory to have fifty percent reservation for women in the legislative set up, all jobs in government and private sector, equal rights in paternal properties and parity in salary. Economic Empowerment of women can play an important role in controlling this crime. They should also debate women empowerment in the legislatives and monitor their empowerment. They should also discuss in detail the functioning and funding of Special courts and their performance which will make the fight against the crime very serious and effective .Poverty alleviation measures should also be taken by the legislative as poverty is one of the root causes of sexual violence. Thus we need to have political system with ears on the ground on these aspect to play a constructive role to empower women and controlling the crime against them.
Having discussed various factors let us now look into the state’s role which essentially comprises of our policing and judicial systems. The existing systems are one of the best but lethargic. They need to be shaken out of the lethargy and given the specific framework, required resources and an ultimatum to shape up or perish. That should be best left to police and judiciary instead of flogging them to death. In the Nirbhaya case, the police submitted an exhaustive charge sheet on 03/01/2013 within 18 days of the incident. This underlines the fact that when police is asked to shape up, it does it without any hesitation and resorting to short cut measures. In addition of shaping up. Indian police is not as incompetent as many would think. They always raise to the occasion whenever times comes. Give them an ultimatum they will deliver.
However in spite of this, there is enough scope to work upon these two systems and make them deliver better. On the policing front, all rape cases should be given utmost priority by forming Spl team under the close supervision of the SP or DC to conclude investigation within a short time of two weeks. Doctors should immediately give medical report as soon as they examine the victim as well as the accused. The forensic report should be fast tracked and report given within 24 hrs . The trial of this case should be closely followed up by a special team at the district level .It has always been noticed that such gang rapes take place due to lack of effective visible policing in vulnerable area. Local police worth it is salt should know and identify such vulnerable areas and patrol the area effectively to avoid reoccurrence. These simple measures will go a long way in delivering justice to the victim.
On the judiciary front, it will not be out of place to mention that in the Nirbhaya case the charge sheet was filed in two weeks. The charges were framed and trial completed within six months on 08/07 /2013 and conviction order passed on 10/09/2013. The High Court upheld the sentence within seven months on 13/03/2014. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence after three years on May 2017 and rejected the review petition in July 2017. The death sentence was completed on 19th March 2020 after disposal of all appeals and Mercy petitions before the President of India. This chronology clearly underlines the delay in the judicial process which could have been avoided. Hence a hard look is required to streamline the entire process.
To begin with the government needs to comprehensively assess the implementation of the exhaustive recommendations by Justice Varma committee report of Dec 2012 and take corrective measures to implement all the recommendations in toto. Another simple solution to improve the judicial process is to enact Expeditious Disposal of Rape and Rape with Murder Cases Act, with a specific time line for the entire judicial process from trial till execution of the sentence in cases of rape with murder as well as rape. The preferred time line for each process should be that the Fast track session’s court should carry the trial as per the original concept of continuous session’s trial and conclude the trial as early as possible preferably in two weeks. The systems of Appeal against judgement in the high court should be have limitation period of two weeks from the date of the order. The High Court should be given a time limit of disposal within two weeks after the limitation period. The Supreme Court given a limitation period of two weeks and disposal of appeal after the limitation period in another two weeks. In the cases of death sentence the mercy petition process should also have a time limit of four weeks. Thus a total time limit of 14 weeks from trial to execution of sentence would be a fair trial. We need to enact a Special Expeditious Disposal of Rape and rape with murder Cases Act, to prescribe the specific time limit for speedy delivery of justice.
In addition to the above, the judicial system in our country which is impaired with systems overload without adequate manpower and lack of adequate funds, needs to be reinforced. Even though provisions have been made for fast track courts, many state governments do not sanction adequate funds or post functional staff in time making this novel system ineffective. Time has come to have a hard look at the funding and staffing of all special courts and make it effective. The responsibility of making this possible should be with the Legislatives of the state and parliamentarians of our country where funding and adequacies of the staff for the special courts should be discussed and action taken to correct aberrations by the legislature itself.
India ranks 112/153 in the UN Global gender parity index and 147/157 global inequality index. We need to ensure Gender parity in all walks of like and accordingly tune our national policy on gender equality and sexual violence. In addition to it, the Gender sensitisation of the society, police, judiciary, medical and forensic dept. as well as schools and colleges should be a must and regular exercise carried out as frequently as possible in a systematic manner with the assistance of social scientists not police officers and administrators. This will lay a strong foundation to control crime against women in our country. Thus one should always remember a society which does not seriously introspect on its problem will always be burdened to face the problem again and again in a more serious virulent form. Time has now come for not only the society but all the constituents of our democracy to take this matter seriously to reduce the incidence of such cases in the future. If all the constituents of the society are fine tuned to do their best as discussed above and made to realise that the violence against women degrades us all, the rape can be sentenced to death.