Veteran social activist Anna Hazare has rightly condemned the rape and murder of 14 year old minor girl in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district and has demanded death penalty for the accused responsible for the shocking incident.
In view of the increasing incidence of the rape incidents, it is absolutely necessary to review the rape law humanely and progressively as the existing legislation is not only partial but also outdated. The subject needs a comprehensive review and should include various types of assault, violence and torture, and with gender neutrality. Indian women are far too vulnerable to violent assaults. Sexual violence in villages, though little reported, keeps girls and women indoors after dark. The pity is that to change attitudes to rape so many young women have had to suffer and die.
Women are routinely groped and harassed by men inside buses and trains. The reason behind is the vulgar display by even top grade heroines in the form of ‘item numbers’ has become a must for any successful movie. All these adds to the frustration where the age of sexual maturity does not match with the permissible age for marriage. A piece of fool-proof legislation is needed to safeguard innocent victims.
Rape is not something that occurs by itself. It is part of the continuing and embedded violence in society that targets women on a daily basis. Hastily made laws will serve no purpose. The government should reconsider the ordinance, giving more importance to the panel recommendations. It is rightly pointed out that, “The law, if it is to remain effective, must keep up with these changes, not try to force a regression to a time long past.” While Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code are the major laws dealing with rape, they have failed to match the international standards of addressing the crime. A comprehensive psychological study of the mindset of rapists is the urgent need of the hour to get some real insight into the mindset of criminals. Girls are in constant fear of being attacked, raped, victimised by men throwing acid on their faces, and what not. It is important to conduct an imaginative and sustained publicity campaign in the media, especially in regional languages, in cinema theatres and so on. Any new law on rape should include the conduct of the defence lawyer and bar unethical questions against the rape victim. Rather than punishing a culprit after the occurrence of a crime, it is necessary to curb the cause of crime against women. We have enough laws but, unfortunately, they are not effective. What’s the purpose of any law that can only bark but not bite?
(This is the first part of the article and the remaining portion will continue tomorrow)
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)