November 1, 2020

ESTIMATING THE INCIDENCE OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSUALT

ABSTRACT

“We Live In A Society That Teaches Women To Be Careful Not to Get Rape Instead Of Teaching Men Not To Rape”. The case of NIRBHAYA had been international headlines for the last few years. This had leaded a pathway for the emergence of additional laws. Crime against women has been a bane of India’s development effort . Even the popular media is rife with news of rapes, which appear to be the most rampant and high profile of all the crimes The scuffle path faced by nirbhaya The case of NIRBHAYA had been international headlines for the last few years. This had leaded a pathway for the emergence of additional laws. Crime against women has been a bane of India’s development efforts.To provide enhanced punishments, quicker investigation, prosecution and trial, for criminals accused of committing sexual assault of an extreme nature against women. As a result of the nationwide protests, the Justice Verma Committee was constituted under the notification of the Government of India to suggest changes in the existing laws. This eventually led to the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The amendments sought to make provisions relating to violence against women more stringent. Supreme Court took 7 long years to announce death penalty to the culprits despite having all the proofs.

INTRODUCTION

INDIA is well known for its heritage and culture but now in recent trends it is also been well known for the violence against women like rape, sexual assaults, acid attacks ,cruelty and so on. We still live in a society were, the society tries to excuse men and blame women for all the gender violence’s against them. The tendency to blame women has been programmed in the minds of the society at a deep level. Even though there are so many arguments, protest, debates and supports, awareness programmes, campaign are being conducted in order to curb such type of violence’s from the society, but it is a truthful fact that still these kinds of sexual assaults prevail everywhere. Apart from all other crimes Rape is considered as a reprehensible act. Rape is the most bankable event in our culture, more valuable than murder and a lot more valuable than mere mayhem. In Former times the general idea on crime against women were only based on cruelty and dowry related but, now in recent trends the crime rate against women is drastically being increased particularly on rape. Even the popular media is rife with news of rapes, which appear to be the most rampant and high profile of all the crimes. No other crime has been given as much attention in the media than Rape. The case of NIRBHAYA had been international headlines for the last few years. This had leaded a pathway for the emergence of additional laws. Crime against women has been a bane of India’s development efforts.

THE SCUFFLE PATH FACED BY NIRBHAYA(JYOTI SINGH):

Nirbhaya whose real name is JYOTI SINGH PANDEY, was 23 years old medical student- physiotherapist who was born in the Ballia district of uttar Pradesh in 1989. On 16 december,2012 night, she was returning to her home with her boyfriend Awindra Pratap pandey after watching the film LIFE OF PIE in saket, south delhi. Joti and her boyfriend Pratap boarded a white colored private bus at Mumirka for Dwarka, which was being driven by joyriders (Mukesh Singh,Ram Singh , Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, Juvenile) at aroumd 9.30 pm .After a while the six joyriders taunted the couple and questioned. Soon a scuffle ensued between the joyriders and them. Later during the scuffle Joti’s boyfriend was beaten with an iron rod and turned unconscious. Jyoti was dragged to the rear of bus and raped her one by one. She was wounded physically by inserting a rusted rod in her private part, ripping her genital organs and insides apart. An half –an-hour later Jyoti and her boyfriend was thrown out of the moving bus at Mahipalur .they tried to kill her by running the bus on her but her friend pulled her towards the pavement. Their cloths and belongings were also been robbed by them. Half dead and in pain they were later found and taken to Safdarjung Hospital for emergency treatment. Medical investigation of the woman suggested she was penetrated by a blunt object, probably a rod-like object that had caused extensive damage to the internal organs of the victim. And later she was moved to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for further care were she succumbed to her injuries on 19th December 2012 . On December 28th ,at 11 am her condition was extremely critical and due to brain damage, pneumonia and abdominal infection she died at 4.45 am. Her body was cremated on 30th December.

Trial and Verdict

Within a day of the commission crime, arrests were made by the Delhi police in the case and all the six accused including a juvenile were arrested. They were charged for rape, murder, kidnapping, robbery assault under section 375, sec 300, sec 359, sec 390 of Indian penal code. During the trail Ram Singh committed suicide in the jail. On 10 September 2013, the four adult defendant were found guilty of rape, murder, unnatural offences and destruction of evidence. The juvenile convict served the maximum imprisonment of 3yrs under laws current when the crime was committed. On 5 may,2017 death sentences was given to the adult convicts by the supreme court. According to the legal experts, the convicts still had the right to file a review petition to the supreme court but the court rejected the review petition on 9 July,2018.

SOCIAL REACTION

Due to this gruesome incident there was a lot of social outrage and candle light marches, solidarity movements and protest all over India. India has always been notorious for being unsafe for women, and this was the spark which ignited the fire of public outrage and this was not restricted to India, the whole world had formed an opinion about India. A British documentary called “India’s daughter” was banned by the central government because it portrayed India in a very derogatory and poor light. A majority of the outrage poured out on social media. In the contemporary times, with easy access to technology, the reactions on social media often reflect the mood and situation in the country. The hashtags # gangrape, # nirbhaya and so on become trending on various websites. Organisations like all India progressive women’s associations also made its mark. Feminist and women movements gained momentum and incentive. Not just social, there was legal repercussion of the incident too. The government was being pressurised to make stricter laws regarding rape and dealing with juveniles committing heinous crimes.

THE JUSTICE VERMA COMMITTEE

There had been widespread demand by the public as well as various human rights groups and women’s organizations to change or amend the existing law relating to sexual offences widespread protests were followed after the gang rape incident. This particular incident garnered huge popularity because of the heinous nature of the crime committed. As a result of the nationwide protests, the Justice Verma Committee was constituted under the notification of the Government of India to suggest changes in the existing laws.

On December 23, a three member Committee was headed by Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court along with other members such as Leila Seth, former judge of the high court of Delhi and Gopal Subramaniam, Former Solicitor General of India. 2012, was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law. The committee also consists of the public, eminent jurists, legal professionals, NGOs, women’s groups and civil society, in order to share their views, knowledge and experience for suggesting possible amendments in the criminal and other relevant laws. To provide enhanced punishments, quicker investigation, prosecution and trial, for criminals accused of committing sexual assault of an extreme nature against women.

The sole object of the Committee is to suggest measures for faster trials and harsher penalties for vicious offences related to violence against women. The committee has identified the failure of governance and criticized the government, and even the public for its apathy. They also mentioned that the central cause of violence against women is due to ‘lack of good governance’ , on January 23,2013, the commission submitted its recommendations. It made recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, and child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms. The committee in its report blamed the government, police insensitivity and gender bias for the rising crimes against women in the country. It also created some offences like disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking.

The Report deals with sexual crimes at all levels and also its h the measures for prevention as well as punishment of all offences with sexual overtones . The Report also deals with the construct of gender justice in India . The report was of 630 pages . The report made was appreciated both nationally and internationally as it was completed within 29days.

Recommendations of the Committee

The following are the major recommendations made by the panel with regard to sexual offences in India:

• The committee made the recommendation that gradation of sexual offences should be retained in the Indian Penal Cod1860

• Rape should be declared a separate offence according to the committee

• Under the IPC, sexual intercourse without consent is not permitted with the exception of marital rape. Committee recommended that exception to marital rape should be removed

• Marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts as per the recommendations of the report

• The Committee also recommended that non penetrative forms of sexual contact should also be viewed as sexual assault and the offence should be punishable with fine, 5 years imprisonment or both

• It recommended that use of criminal force for disrobing a woman should be punishable with 3 to 7 years of imprisonment

• Committee recommended that use of words, acts or gestures creating unwelcome threat of sexual nature should be viewed as sexual assault and punishable by 1 year imprisonment or fine or both.

Key recommendations made by the Committee regarding the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill 2012 were as follows:

• Domestic workers should be included within the Bill’s purview

• As per the Bill, complainant and respondent are required to first attempt conciliation

• Employer must pay compensation to the woman who suffered sexual harassment

• Bill needs the employer to frame a internal complaints committee for which complaints must be filled

• Internal committees such as these should be replaced by Employment Tribunal, as per the Verma Committee report to receive and adjudicate all complaints

• Committee also held that any offence should not be clubbed under provisions of grievous hurt which is punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years under the IPC

• The Committee also made the recommendation that requirement of sanction for prosecution of armed forces personnel should be excluded when sexual offence is alleged, with respect to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and complainants of sexual violence should be given witness protection

• Training of armed personnel should be reoriented for emphasizing strict observance of orders in this regard with respect to armed personnel

• Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 1956 has not defined trafficking in a comprehensive manner, according to the Committee. Trafficking has only been criminalized for purpose of prostitution

• Provisions of IPC have been recommended for amendment to criminalize trafficking by threat, force and inducement

• Criminalizing employment of trafficked persons was also recommended and juveniles as well as women protection homes should be placed within the legal supervision of HC and steps be taken for the rehab of victims

• Committee also recommended terms “harm” and “health” should be defined within the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 for including mental and physical health component and harm in mental and physical terms both for juveniles

• Committee rejected chemical castration as a failure to treat social basis of rape

• Death penalty should not be given for rape as life imprisonment will prove a stronger deterrent, the committee felt

• Committee also made the recommendation for the discontinuation of the 2 finger test and held that previous sexual experience of the victim should not be the basis for determining consent or the quality of consent provided by the victim.

Certain steps were also recommended by the committee to reform the police, which are as follows:

• Establishment of State Security Commissions for ensuring state governments do not exercise influence on the state police

• CM or Home Minister of State should head such commissions

• These commissions should lat down broad policy guidelines so police acts in concordance with law

• A Police Establishment Board should decide regarding the transfer, promotions and postings of offices

• DG Police and IG Police should have a tenure of at least 2 years

• A rape crisis cell should be established so that it can provide immediate legal help to the victim

• All police stations should possess CCTVs at entrance and questioning room

• FIRs should be filed online

• Police officers should be duty bound to assist victims regardless of the jurisdiction of the crime

• Police should be trained to deal in an appropriate manner with sexual offences

• Number of police personnel should be increases and community policing should be provided by volunteers

• Bill Rights for women entitling them to a life of dignity and security and complete sexual autonomy in their relationships was also mooted.

This eventually led to the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

CRIMINAL AMENDMENT ACT,2013

After the barbarous rape incident, indicated the whole world, the enormity as well as the seriousness for an immediate reform in rape laws.The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, an legislation passed by the Lok Sabha on 19 March 2013, and by the Rajya Sabha on 21 March 2013, provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on laws related to sexual offences. The Bill received Presidential assent on 2 April 2013and it was affected on 3 February 2013. It was originally an Ordinance promulgated by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, on 3 February 2013. The Act introduced unprecedented provisions in the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes sexual voyeurism and stalking and amends legal provisions to protect the privacy of individuals, such as discontinuing the practice of examination of the sexual history of the victim of a sexual assault for evidence. The amendments sought to make provisions relating to violence against women more stringent. The key features are as follows:

a) New offences like acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, disrobing a woman, stalking have now been incorporated into the Indian Penal Code. Enhanced punishment for crimes like rape, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, indecent gestures like words and inappropriate touch etc. has also been added.

b) Definition of rape has been widened to include non-penetrative sex as well.

c) Provisions for aggravated rape expanded to include rape committed by a person in a position of dominance, by a member of the armed forces deployed in an area, rape committed during communal or sectarian violence or on a woman incapable of giving consent.

d) Increased penalty for gang rape and causing serious injury to the victim resulting her
to remain in a vegetative state.

Now at present the Criminal Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha to make the offence of rape ,gender neutral for the following reasons :

· Recognizing that individuals who are homosexual and /or belong to the transgender community can be victims of rape and,

· Recognizing that only a “man” cannot be a perpetrator of a sexual offence

CONCLUSION

First of all, no doubt its a heinous crime committed by the wrong doers and they are punished according to law. Supreme Court took 7 long years to announce death penalty to the culprits despite having all the proofs. Imagine the grief of mother when her daughter was struggling with her life, fighting for each single breath. When her body has injuries which made even doctors territories at the brutality with which she was attacked. Even though we have better laws and new amendments to enhance the safety of women but still we are not fully succeed . Still the crime rate against women are rapidly increasing. As we use to say brutal rape has occurred in the same way brutal punishment has to be given to them. The changes must be proper and still stricter so that there will be control over these kind of violence. We people easily and emotionally get attached to these kind of problem and crimes which is happening around us but as fast as we get attached to it, faster than that we are detached from these issues and move on. The justice for Nirbhaya was denied and still these kind of assaults are prevailing in the society. As we all know that India is well known for peace still it carries it’s peaceful silence even to the violence against women .

Now recently after all consideration the accused have been told that they will be hanged on February 1st at 6am. This is definitely not the justice to Nirbhaya but her parents must have got some satisfaction.

REFERENCES

· https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/criminal-law-amendment/

· https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/nirbhaya-gang-rape-and-murder-case-suprme-court-judgement/articleshow/72864047.cms

· https://www.ndtv.com/cheat-sheet/recommendations-of-the-justice-verma-committee-10-point-cheat-sheet-511292

· https://prsindia.org/report-summaries/justice-verma-committee-report-summary

· https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-opinions-on-the-Nirbhaya-case-Do-we-need-a-change-in-our-judicial-system

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Author Details: B. Pavithra and Subha Lekha (4th year student at SRM University)

The views of the author are personal only.

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