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Fighting Crimes Against Women (13 October 2020)

Fighting Crimes Against Women (13 October 2020)

Why in News:

The Centre has issued a fresh advisory to states and Union Territories on mandatory action in cases of crimes against women.

Context:

The Centre said the probe into rape cases must be completed within two months as per law and that dying declaration of a victim can’t be discarded. The detailed three-page advisory of the home ministry came days after the alleged gangrape and murder of a woman in Haathras, Uttar Pradesh sparked nationwide outrage. The home ministry said there should be compulsory registration of a first information report in case of a cognizable offence under the CrPC.

Background:

The detailed three-page advisory of the home ministry came days after the alleged gangrape and murder of a woman at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh sparked nationwide outrage.

Crimes against women increased 7.3 per cent from 2018 to 2019, and crimes against Scheduled Castes also went up 7.3 per cent in the same period, according to the annual National Crime Record Bureau’s “Crime in India” 2019 report releasedrecently.

In terms of absolute numbers, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of cases in both these categories. But Assam reported the highest rate of crimes against women (per lakh population), while Rajasthan had the highest rate of crimes against Scheduled Castes.

“A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered during 2019, showing an increase of 7.3% over 2018 (3,78,236 cases).

Summary of the Debate

The new Advisory:

  • Itis compulsory for police to register an FIR in such a case of cognizable offence under sub-section (1) of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • The probe into rape cases must be completed within two months as per law.
  • For crimes which are not under the jurisdiction of a police station, a Zero FIR should be registered.
  • Punishment will be given to officials who fail to file an FIR in relation to cognizable offences.
  • The victim should be examined by a registered medical practitioner under consent within twenty-four hours from the time of receiving the information relating to the commission of such offence.
  • In case of statement, written or verbal, made by the person related to the person’s cause of death, the government ordered state authorities to take it as ‘relevant fact’.

Major Challenges in India:

  • India is still an extremely women unfriendly country.
  • The FIRs are not filed in time and they take their own speed to file it, there are lots of unnecessary questions asked of the victims when it comes to violence against women, any form of violence but especially rape etc.
  • In many cases, FIRs are not registered by the police, just to show the lesser number of crimes in their record.
  • Even today most crimes especially rapes don’t take place in public, most of them are within the homes and the victims are raped by people whom they know well and they never really make it even to a statistic.
  • There are very few forensic labs in this country.
  • The justice system is based on proof.
  • In today’s time adolescents are among the most vulnerable groups because in most homes today, they spend far more time in school and with their friends than with their parents.
  • Patriarchal nature of society is still one of the major reasons for crime against women.
  • Marital rape is a widespread problem in India which is not even considered as rape most of the time.

          call_for_better

Way Forward:

  • There should be a right amount of power to interrogate, power to investigate and power to have accused on a longer period of police remand for interrogation.
  • The parents should also hold responsible, there should be some charge on the parents for not having proper control over the child. In England and US, there is a law that if the child is a delinquent or a deviant, the parents are also held responsible.
  • Parents should need to stand by their daughters.
  • There is need to facilitating the better policemen to do quicker job.
  • The dying declaration of a victim cannot and should not be ignored.
  • We must have good quality, easily accessible forensic labs which are accessible by every district throughout the country.
  • Every ecosystem needs to put its act together whether the police, the prosecutors, the judiciary, the medical and health department, the NGOs, the rehabilitation centres and lawmakers.
  • It is better to have a fewer law that are implemented faithfully than large number of laws that are implemented loosely.

Important points made by the Guests

Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Former Chairman, National Commission for Women

  • There has to be a huge cultural shift in the way Indians think.
  • There is actually need to make sure that there is an open social and cultural condemnation of the overt masculinity, that still is so prevalent in our society where girls and violence against women is just a statistic and it should not be that.
  • There should be some form of incentive to a policeman or to a lawmaker or to somebody who’s supposed to uphold the law who can prevent actively that they have worked with the local.
  • There has to be a cultural change at every level, at societal level, at family level, at community level, at the level of the police, at the level of the court and the police system.
  • Rape is not always about the sex in fact it is very rarely about the sex, it is because the more powerful person can misuse a girl power.

Dr. Vikram Singh, Former DGP, Uttar Pradesh

  • The main reason for late registering of FIRs in rape cases is working that is minimization of crime and also the fact that it gives the station house officer, the police station and the district police and puts them in very negative light that they are unable to control crime.
  • In Haathras case also what should have been done immediately did not happened, for days together, so the simple reason is that they wanted to minimize statistics and also to cover up the whole case that it was not a gang rape.
  • Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code says ‘’When the complainant gives an application that discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the station house officer 'shall' register a case’’. The word used is shall and 'not will' meaning thereby the SHO has no discretion whatsoever.
  • In Lalita Kumari vs State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court is very clear that the case has to be registered and for and once we thought the days of non-registration is over.
  • In 2013, we had the Criminal Law Amendment Act and we thought Justice Verma Commission would be the gospel truth, unfortunately nothing has happened, even today things are as bad as they were 25 years ago.
  • Building up criminal intelligence is necessary as some officers are very passionate that every police station has five records pertaining to this crime registered for eve teasers, actively history sheeters, etc. they should be updated the SHO confidential notebook.
  • It is in everybody’s interest to put our act together and give a befitting response to the roadside romeos and all those who are involved in these horrific crimes.

Urmi Goswami, Assistant Editor, The Economic Times

  • A conversation never goes to prevention, a conversation must be about preventing the crime and it is only when we start focusing on ensuring that fewer crimes are committed then we can talk about a real change.
  • It is important to know what the system is doing on the practical level to ensure that fewer crimes are committed which is inclusive of crimes against women. Do you have better patrolling that is happening, you have better lighting on street, are you designing your streets in a manner that there are more people on the street, more activity on the street so that people feel safer to be there.
  • Until we start talking, focusing on prevention and having this conversation at time which are not always during the commission of such heinous crimes that is the only time we will see the real change happen.
  • Rather than focusing on How the police have behaved in crime, it is better to ensure that the conversation moves back to prevention; why are these crimes happening; why this country is still women unfriendly; what are the practical steps we can take.
  • Criminal justice reform is critical as is police reforms and we have to reform the entire chain of system. There is a need to separate investigation from maintaining law and order.

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