Delhi rape case and the need to revamp policing
“My father has called me 15 times since yesterday,” a colleague told me today as New Delhi recovers from the shock of a woman being assaulted, gang-raped and thrown off a bus on Sunday night.
There were more comments from women on my Facebook feed: “It is a scary thought to go out for dinner at 9:15 pm”; “Men on Delhi streets can literally rape you with words … met one giggling a** just now. Felt like picking a stone and hitting it right where it all starts from …”
These comments made me think. Never had we discussed a rape case so vehemently in office; never before has a rape case moved me personally. Why? Perhaps, we are immune to such headlines in newspapers and used to the way things are.
I will be honest — there have been times when I felt that girls in New Delhi exaggerate the issue of safety. But this incident changed my opinion in just 24 hours.
In her blog, my colleague Anuja Jaiman wonders what mothers are teaching their sons nowadays. I do agree upbringing is one of the problems, but another is poor law enforcement in India.
Some argue death penalty is the solution, others advocate castration for rapists. It is good to have stringent punishments, but even if they could act as a deterrent, I don’t think such laws can fix a sick man’s DNA.
When I asked Supreme Court lawyer Vijay Kumar if death penalty was a solution, he said “it is the certainty of punishment, not the severity of punishment that is the answer”.
But who is going to stop such things from happening in public, even if deterrents are in place?
When there’s a bomb blast, everybody is on alert and security is beefed up for some days. But eventually, authorities take it easy. When someone is raped, political rhetoric follows, some men are arrested, cases are filed and remain pending for years and again, we are back to square one.
With gruesome crimes such as rape reported every other day, women do not feel safe on India’s roads. We’ve had 630 rape cases so far this year and the question remains — what have we learnt?
Unfortunately, it is a vicious circle — there are problems with law enforcement, we have an inefficient police force infamous for taking bribes, our justice system is extremely slow and there are issues with witness protection.
It is impossible to fix everything in one go.
Kumar shares my view that improving policing should be India’s top priority. Harish Salve, another eminent Supreme Court lawyer, bluntly said in a TV debate that if the girl were a minister’s daughter, heads would have been rolling in the police force by now.
So what are we all waiting for? Do we need another 630 rape cases before we start acting?
Perhaps, spending a few billion rupees on security could be a starting point. It is time lawmakers and enforcement agencies realise that prevention is better than the cure.
(You can follow Aditya on Twitter @adityayk)