The definition of rape in India has been broadened and the previously uncalled for actions which were not included in the definition have been brought in after the Nirbhaya Incident. It was this incident which shook the conscience of the nation to fight rape and rapists severely so that this crime is eliminated from the country. However, the broadening of the definition and inclusion of many uncalled for acts in the purview of the definition have not stopped the rapes from taking place.
Rapes continue in the country almost everywhere, each day, every month and season. There is no community, minority or majority, where rape victims cannot be found and there is none which has no culprits and rapists. The reporting of rapes gives an impression that the incidence of this crime has gone up many times. Though that might be the case actually but one thing is sure that the brutality and bestiality in committing rapes has worsened. They have ceased now as the human acts for sexual gratification and only the beastly acts for beastly gratification, if gratification is anyway associated with beasts.
The victims are tortured, butchered and murdered after mutilating their private parts. They are raped not only once but multiples of times, not only by one rapist but a gang of them. They are buried in dirty ditches, places of seclusion, thrown away to be eaten by wild animals, burned to erase all the evidence and their bodies disposed in the nearby available water bodies. The realization that was dawn on the nation after the Nirbhaya Incident seems to have failed in giving the desired results and in curbing rapes.
The Verma Commission which was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women recommended various measures to curb rapes. It also suggested various reforms in various branches of government like police reforms which could help in preventing rapes from taking place in the first instance. It was the recommendations of this commission, and the acceptance of most of them by the government, which helped judiciary to deal the case on fast track basis and decide the extent of punishment for the culprits.
No doubt the December, 16, 2012 rape case was dealt with a great degree of urgency, and rightly so, owing to the national outrage against the culprits but attitude of the justice delivery system is not up to the levels of satisfaction in subsequent case of such nature. Rape cases, and many of them, were reported in various parts of India which were no less gruesome than that of Jyoti Sing Pandey (Nirbhaya) but what is the outcome of the court proceedings in respect of those cases nobody knows. Literally, nobody wants to know and bothers to know.
The behavior of various law making and law enforcement agencies is questionable in most of these cases but more questionable is the attitude of the society at large. Until three months after the horrific and horrendous rape of the Kathua minor girl Asifa it seemed that the Indian nation has given rapes a social recognition, accepted them as a normal phenomena. This can be safely stated because when only a few months old girls are raped in a country and no public outrage is reported from anywhere, it means rapes are a normal thing in that country.
Had it not been the open support of rapists in Kathua rape case, the fate of this case would not have been known to anybody and nobody would have perhaps wanted to know that. The open support of culprits by very responsible people in the government and justice delivery system once again shook the conscience of the people who rose in unison to make justice delivery sure in this case though still a long way is to go. This is one of the rare encouraging things that Indian masses, from poor to powerful display. It shows that the human conscience is not dead yet in majority of the people.
Prior to the Kathua rape case, and including it for last two or three months, another disturbing trend was the differential treatment of rape victims by different people. If a rape was committed against a Muslims girl majority of people belonging to the other religious denominations were less bothered or not bothered at all about those cases. In the like manner if a Hindu girl was the victim the behavior of other communities would remain apathetic towards that rape. Hope the Asifa case is the beginning of the reversal of the trend.
Rape victims must be identified as humans first; their religious and regional affiliations should never come in the way of timely justice delivery. Rapists have no religion; their act of raping excludes them from all the religious denominations of the world for nowhere rape is accepted in any religion. Instead, the religions make it obligatory upon their followers to deal the culprits sternly where trespasses against the modesty and dignity of women have been committed.
If we view rapes in religious and regional prism, and show no concern towards the victims belonging to other religions or regions, we are not preventing rapes from taking place rather we are promoting them. In India precisely the same blunder is being committed by the people holding ultranationalist and hyper-nationalist feelings. For them everything related to the majority is a matter of concern, and national, and everything of minorities is of no concern, rapes including.
This is an unfortunate state of affairs which must change sooner the better. If we neglect a case of rape against women of different religion, rape treads one step nearer towards those women belong to our own religions, and even families. Who knows one step of rape may be a mile in terms of our concept of distance.
The rape of Asifa, the minor Kathua girl is a wakeup which has been heard, no matter if late. It should be an eye opener and if the eyes still remain closed it might prove disastrous for the cordial existence of society. The way the Bar Association acted and the way some people in Jammu and at other places supported the criminal, made this case a unique case of the fall of humans. Better for the people supporting the criminals is to rise from the depth to the heights of moral and ethical considerations and become partners in justice delivery to the victim.
Finally, every case of rape, or any other crime, is incomplete if the ways and means to stop the crime are not discussed and presented for implementation. To do that in respect of rape it is better to present the factors which promote rape and which encouraged people to indulge in this criminal activity. The causative factors, besides the genetic makeup in some cases, are high and easily availability of alcohol and other drugs. Lack of concern towards the easy excess to pornography through various media to which children and teenagers someway or other get exposed.
The gruesome scenes of violence that are shown in movies and TV shows are also a contribution factory, especially in the degree of brutality in rapes, and other crimes. Children and teenagers have the tendency to imitate whatever is shown to them and whatever is practiced before them. So when they commit a rape they also indulge in other forms of violence with all brutality. Besides, the eroding social and ethical principles and standards are also contributing in making the crime too frequent.
Above all the faulty implementation of the law and lack of regulatory mechanisms, where they are needed, are major factors which encourage the rapists to keep doing that they are doing with impunity. It is not formulating more and more laws and suggesting harsher punishments which could do the world of good. The problem can be solved by the proper implementation of the existent laws and introducing new regulatory mechanisms where they are needed.
Asifa is not the only girl who is waiting for justice. There are multiple of hundreds of Asifas in this country who need to be provided justice. An inclusive effort needs to be made to provide justice to all of them. Plus another inclusive effort is to be made to eliminate this crime from the country’s life and from the world. We can make Asifa a watershed movement and close all the doors and plug all the loopholes so that this crime is never repeated. Repetition of such cases will certainly dislodge us from the seat of humans towards bestiality. To ponder is the world.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]