How safe are we?
Even with new laws in place for punishment of rapists, we have a long way to go to ensure safety for all girls and women in the country
Even after the promises made to ensure safety for women in the previous years, heinous crimes were committed against women across the length and breadth of the country in 2018 as well. Nobody can forget the innocent 8-year-old who was brutally raped and tortured for days before being abandoned in a forest in Kathua, or how the 10-year-old who was abducted from a wedding and barbarically raped and murdered in Chattisgarh.
While some of those in authority may prefer to belt out imaginative excuses to justify how the victims are to blame for the rape, others have actually taken steps towards creating a safer world for women.
What has changed in our country for women after so many brutal rape cases? Five years after the barbarous assault on Nirbhaya, some changes to the law and order were brought about, due to the outrage and protests of the masses. The areas that should have long before been covered by the law in order to protect women, were proposed thereafter but they still lack proper implementation.
The law now permits capital punishment for anyone guilty of raping children under the age of 12. Along with that, the minimum prison time for rape against girls under the age of 16 and women has also been raised.
The Anti-Rape Bill 2013 acknowledges the wide scope of sexual crimes which women may fall victim to, also highlighting the crimes of shaming and a number of ways in which gender-based discrimination manifests itself. As per the Act, the police will also be punished for failing to register FIRs and act appropriately.
To bring ease to victims, fast-track courts have been set up for rape cases, which help to regulate trials on a daily basis and not elongate them over several months.
The concept of Zero FIR has also been implemented which is a great benefit for the victims. A jurisdiction-free FIR was initiated in order to avert the postponement in filing the crime that adversely affects the victim.
The implementations made are still not adequate as marital rape is still not covered by any law and the fast track courts have a backlog which no one is worried about. The number of sexual crimes against women is still on the rise which paints a sad picture for India, that its citizens are not afraid of the law. The laws still lack a wide coverage as the culprits are still making most of the small loopholes found in our law and order.
( Anuja Kapur is a criminal psychologist and advocate)