Rape – A heinous crime - Daily Current Affair Article

Why is news?

Recently a middle-aged Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped at gunpoint in Uttar Pradesh's Jewar area near Noida. One of the four accused has been arrested but the key accused is absconding. Jewar’s name often seen in news is because of the airport being developed in the area but this incident of gang rape gives one an idea of the law and order situation in the area.

Introduction

  • Rape is one of the most heinous offenses committed on a women. It is worse than a murder. Rape causes infringement of women’s rights and liberty.
  • It is defined as intentional and unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code made it clear that intercourse would account to rape only during the absence of the woman’s consent.
  • ‘Rape as a clearly defined offense was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860. The definition of rape also included sex when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
  • Section 376 provided for seven year of jail term to life imprisonment to whoever commits the offense of rape.
  • The rape law in India remains gender specific even today as the per perpetrator of the offense can only be man so 172nd report led to the amendment in the Indian Evidence Act in 2002.
  • A new provision was inserted which barred putting questions during the cross-examination of the victim as to her general immoral character in rape or attempt to rape cases.

Difference between Rape and Marital Rape

  • The definition of rape codified in section 375 of IPC includes all forms of sexual assault involving non-consensual intercourse with a woman.
  • However, marital rape is an unwilling sexual intercourse of a woman by her husband and exception 2 to section 375 immunizes such acts from prosecution.
  • As per current law, a wife is presumed to deliver perpetual consent to have sex with her husband after entering into marital relations.
  • Most countries criminalized marital rape from the late 20th country, but it is still unclear whether marital rape is covered by the ordinary rape laws or there is need for some separate laws on marital rape.

NCRB statistics on rape

  • As per data released by NCRB, nearly 77 rape cases were reported across the country on an average every day in a year.
  • Majority of cases under crime against woman were registered under Cruelty by Husband or his relatives (30.2%) followed by assault on women with intent to outage her modesty (19.7%), kidnapping and abduction of women (19.0%) and rape (7.2%).
  • Out of the total cases of crimes against women during COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown, there were 28,046 incidents of rape involving 28,153 victims.
  • The number of rape cases, as defined in IPC section 376, stood at 32,033 in 2019, 33,356 in 2018, 32,559 in 2017.
  • Rajasthan reported the maximum number of rapes (5310) in 2020 while Uttar Pradesh reported 2769 cases.
  • In case of rape of minors, Madhya Pradesh recorded the most number of incidents with 3259 cases followed by Maharashtra and UP.
  • There is an increase of 9.4% in crimes against SCs and 9.3% against STs from 2019. A total of 50,291 cases were registered for committing crime against scheduled castes (SCs).
  • The incidence of rape in urban areas stood at 897. According to a recent report by the livemint, about 99% of cases of sexual violence of unreported.
  • Protection of children from sexual offenses Act was passed by the parliament in 2012 to effectively address the evil of sexual assault and exploitation of a child.
  • Under this act, children are individuals aged below 18 years. The act is gender neutral. The act provides for the establishment of special courts for the trial of offenses.
  • National commission for the protection of child rights have been made the designated authority to monitor the implementation of the act.

Role of Government Institutions in preventing rape

  • Criminal law (Amendment) Act was passed in 2013 because of the nationwide public outcry in 2012 following the December 16 gang rape and murder which widened the definition of rape and made punishment more stringent.
  • The 2013 Act increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases.
  • The punishment for gang rape was increased to 20 years to life imprisonment.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs also listed measures taken by government to prevent crime against women. One of them was Emergency Response Support System- a pan India, single internationally recognized number- 112.
  • MHA also launched a cyber- crime portal to report obscene content and released National Database on sexual offenders.
  • An online analytic tool for police was also launched called Investigation Tracking System for Sexual offenses.
  • The Sexual Harassment of woman at workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and redressed) Act 2013 addresses the issue of workplace sexual harassment faced by women.
  • As said, every coin has two side, one here represents the laws and administrative actions taken to prevent rape and other represents the failure of implementation of these laws.
  • The result is that, rape-victim go through mental harassment and get intimidated during cross-questioning of the case. Investigation takes a lot of time causing delay in justice and with no surprise, still there are cases where police do not register FIR indicating gruesome politics and corruption.

Societal Attitude towards Rape victims

  • It is very sad that living in the 21st century and worshipping goddesses, society always looked upon rape victims in a very questionable way as if, it’s their fault and a rape victim should he put at guilty for that violence and offense faced.
  • Victims are continued to be seen as a scar on the fabric of society which bears strong cultured and social norms echoing patriarchal values.
  • Society thinks that rape brings shame to victims and their families which is not so, because the convict of rape should be put to shame.

Dichotomy in rules and regulations-

  • Section 376 of the IPC recommended punishment for sexual assault which may extend to life imprisonment.
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 put death penalty as a possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years.
  • Marital rape is also a rape and need of the hour is that Indian jurisprudence understands the inhuman nature of marital rape and strikes down exception 2 of section 375 which provides immunity to rapist husbands.

Vishaka and others Vs. state of Rajasthan and others -

  • In this case Supreme Court laid down following guidelines-
  • It is the duty of every employer to deliver a sense of security to every women employee.
  • Government should make strict laws and regulations to prohibit sexual harassment.
  • Criminal proceeding should also be brought against the wrong doer.
  • The organization should have a well set up complaint mechanism and a complaint committee headed by a women.
  • It is the duty of the employer and the organization to aware the female employees about their rights by regularly informing them.

Conclusion

To kill this evil crime of rape from our society, foremost important thing needed is enhanced access to justice with behavioral change of attitude and sensitization of people living around the society. As the name suggests, fast-track courts needs to work in a fast manner. The recommendations of justice JS Verma Committee must be implemented to make marital rape a heinous crime by striking down exception 2 of section 375 of IPC.

Police reforms, administrative reforms, legislative reforms must be done in a synchronized way to eradicate this evil from our society and develop a sense of fear in the minds of those thinking to commit the crime.

General Studies Paper 2
  • Polity