Numerous rapes within days of death sentence

Shocking, gruesome and brutal... the new normal in India?

News - India & You


May 20, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

An image from the protests following Jyoti Singh's rape and death. Photo- Wikimedia Commons/ CC 3.0/ Nilroy

An image from the protests following Jyoti Singh’s rape and death. Photo- Wikimedia Commons/ CC 3.0/ Nilroy

In a country that is witnessing escalating sexual violence against women, it becomes evident that death sentences are hardly deterrents.

In the days following a welcomed verdict of death sentence to the perpetrators of the fatal gang rape that was known as the Nirbhaya (fearless one) case, India has shown no improvement, if not a deterioration in women’s safety. Reports ranging from rapes of a minor to septuagenarian surface daily from different parts of the country. India is increasingly proving to be dangerous, where even laws, however stringent, are failing to address the real issue at hand.

As the death sentence for the Nirbhaya case , whose victim’s name was Jyoti Singh, was upheld in its fulfilment of the rarest of rare category, the Court had asserted that the case in question was “barbaric and demonical,” adding “if ever a case called for hanging, this was it.” However, as reports of rapes suggest, the ‘rare’ factor is questionable. In the events that followed days within the Nirbhaya case verdict, the body of a woman in the northern Indian state of Haryana was found with her skull smashed after she had been raped, with gruesome injuries to her internal organs as well.

“When the accused in Jyoti Singh’s case were punished, our village spoke about the verdict. We thought at least this will deter men, but unfortunately even today girls are not safe and men are not scared,” the mother of the deceased woman told a national television channel. Following that, among other incidents of rape reported in the media, another woman in a suburb close to the capital of the country, New Delhi, had been gang raped in a car.

Another case that has made headlines is the verdict surrounding the 10-year-old girl, raped and impregnated by her stepfather. Since the victim was 20 weeks into her pregnancy, the choice of an abortion was technically illegal; however, a verdict by a local court has allowed her to go ahead with an abortion. This is among the numerous incidents ongoing in the country, including the report of a septuagenarian who was raped at her residence in the eastern-Indian state of west Bengal.

Laws are not enough

Even as numerous changes have taken place pertaining to laws on sexual violence and gender-based crime in India, there is not much cause to celebrate. Marital rape is not a legally recognised form of rape due to certain provisions, even as the Delhi High Court is hearing two Public Interest Litigations on the matter. Enforcement remains a prime issue, and even as “fast-track” courts are routinely proposed, justice is nowhere in sight. Crossing the barrier of registering a complaint is a major hurdle, after which a judicial system that is largely insensitive and ineffective makes it worse.

An average of 35,000 rapes are reported annually, and as analysts believe, majority of cases are unreported. That makes an average of one woman in India being raped every 15 minutes. These staggering figures, hardly spoken of, with selective sensitivity to ‘shocking’, ‘brutal’, ‘rare’ crimes only, showcase a deeply apathetic society that is built on a system of violent patriarchy. As India readies itself for protests, demonstrations and rallies for yet another set of victims of its own culture, perhaps it is time to look inward and address the root of the problem, not its visible strands.

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