India Insight

Can Indian women trust the police?

June 25, 2009

A mob vandalized a police station in west Delhi this week after a woman accused five policemen of raping her in a police station.

This is not the first time enforcers of the law have been accused of rape.

In 2005, a 16-year-old girl was raped by a drunk constable in south Mumbai in the infamous Marine Drive rape case.

A year later, another police constable was accused of raping a slum dweller in Karnal.

Data from the National Crimes Record Bureau shows courts tried 132 policemen for custodial rape in 2002 but only four were convicted.

Does this mean women who seek the help of the law are better off not reporting crimes committed against them?

Some amendments were made to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act in 2005 to prevent incidents of custodial rape.

For example, the Act prohibits the arrest of women after sunset and before sunrise except in exceptional circumstances.

But how many women know about their rights? And are steps like this enough?

ALSO READ: Surviving as a woman in urban India

Comments
9 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

A newspaper report today says the west Delhi rape might not have happened at all and the woman probably framed the cops.

An unequal society is a loss not just to people who are at the receiving end of the discrimination but also for those who are in the position to discriminate.

Women are at the receiving end most of the times, laws like the rape or dowry laws are designed to make up for that lacuna, and tilt the procedure in favor of the women, because they have the whole society arraigned against them.

However the cause of justice can only be served if its the guilty who get punished. It is a principle of law that the guilty may go free but an innocent should never be wrongly penalized.

But till the society itself gets more equal,(say through more and more women getting to know their rights) what should we do with the law?

Is it okay to continue with the tilted laws?

Posted by think again | Report as abusive
 

newspaper report today says the west Delhi rape might not have happened at all and the woman probably framed the cops.

An unequal society is a loss not just to people who are at the receiving end of the discrimination but also for those who are in the position to discriminate.

Women are at the receiving end most of the times, laws like the rape or dowry laws are designed to make up for that lacuna, and tilt the procedure in favor of the women, because they have the whole society arraigned against them.

However the cause of justice can only be served if its the guilty who get punished. It is a principle of law that the guilty may go free but an innocent should never be wrongly penalized.

But till the society itself gets more equal,(say through more and more women getting to know their rights) what should we do with the law?

Is it okay to continue with the tilted laws?

Posted by think again | Report as abusive
 

Rachel:

Why only women? Are you feminist? Can any Indian trust Indian Judiciary System starting right from Beat Constable to Chief Justice of India? The police takes bribe to register FIR for even a lost mobile complaint and the Indian judicial system is torture in itself that can half kill any sane, rational and upright person once he gets a taste of system. In view of this, talking only about females shows lack of knowledge about India’s Judicial System.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive
 

The broader question is: in a patriarchal society, could one expect the state and its instruments to transcend the biases hard wired into it? This is a state where courts have stated women cannot be raped by higher caste men (Bhanwari Devi, 1992), that ‘lax’ women can be raped with impunity (Mathura, 1972), where judges have suggested the case itself be quashed when the rapist offers to marry the victim, just to cite some of the more blatant exhibitions of prejudice against women.

Posted by Cheri | Report as abusive
 

If a woman gets raped, not trusting the police, she may report it to her municipal council which may hold an assembly to make retribution order same as the law. But this is the model in Pakistan and sometimes decisions are appalling e.g. allow husband of victim to rape back wife of rapist. Apart from such dubious resolution, the women do get more protection from council than from police. India may consider adopting this method.

Posted by Anwar | Report as abusive
 

That is precisely the point! Even with perfect laws judgements might go wrong, because they are afterall interpretations and human.

So if the laws themselves are tilted one way or the other then what can one expect?

However, as i said with the women at the receiving end, it is moot if such objectivity is desirable.

You see the point is against what standards do you want to measure things. What is the ultimate moral razor you want to utilise?

A perfect legal system which takes into account the innocents who may not be prosecuted/persecuted or setting a wrong right, right away.

The woman who alleged rape changed her statement. It has been reported she was trying to save her husband.

Now is that exactly fighting for women’s rights?

Oh! and as for the broader question posed by Cheri, yes one can and one has every right to expect and demand off the state in a patriarchal society to transcend biases of every which kind, after all, and here is the proof of the pudding, the state itself has enacted such laws that favour women to balance things.

Rhetorical questions like her’s which assume, that someday women are going to awake in some gender-neutral paradise are only delaying the fight and disheartening it as well.

Posted by think again | Report as abusive
 

@think again awareness of a system is not tantamount to
acceptance. On the contrary, confronting a system without understanding it leads to pursuing a flawed line. So when I pose that question, it is to arrive at a clear image of the problem, of the primary contradiction, if you will.

And as Mao said, the primary contradiction between the
oppressor and the oppressed will continue till one side is annihilated. I am hardly the millenarian who believes in and awaits for a gender-neutral paradise, as you seem to think I am!

Second, can women’s rights be separated from the broader
question of class, as you seem to indicate?

And, much as I am honoured by you thinking I am a woman (even if one who is passive !) I happen to be a man :)

Posted by Cheri | Report as abusive
 

Anwar: I do not exactly understand ur post, but in my understanding in Pakistan, a woman needs 4 MALE witnesses to prove she is raped. If raped women files complaint for a rape and is not proved, she is convicted of adultery by default. This is reason ~6000 raped-charged-with-adultery Pakistani women are in jail.

In India, the laws to protect women is there but the question is its in implementation from constable to slow court cases. But in Pakistan the law itself is not on the side of women to begin with.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

How is the question of class broader than that of the gender?

Posted by think again | Report as abusive
 

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