India Insight

Can Indian women trust the police?

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?

Bihar: after the “Jungle Raj”

“The state government is trying to establish the rule of law…however so mighty someone may be, without any discrimination, whatever their clout is, they will still be put on trial.” 

This is what Neelmani, a senior police officer in Bihar, told me in a recent interview.

He said the “Jungle Raj”, which gave the state a reputation for corruption, kidnappings and crime, is coming to an end.

Is ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ poverty porn?

“As the film revels in the violence, degradation and horror, it invites you, the Westerner, to enjoy it, too…Slumdog Millionaire is poverty porn,” wrote London Times’ columnist Alice Miles.

The phrase “poverty porn” spread across the Indian media as commentators nodded in agreement or shook their heads even before the film premiered in its native Mumbai and India could (legally) watch it.

A group of the city’s slum dwellers, including children, protested against the word “dog”. A social activist filed a defamation case in Patna. And this week, hundreds of slum dwellers in Bihar’s capital ransacked a movie theatre demanding the title be changed.

Are India’s anti-dowry laws a trap for urban males?

I never thought I’d see the day when a guy would shy away from feminine attention. An innocuous remark I left complimenting a friend’s photo on a social networking website backfired.

I sensed panic in his voice when he called me to clarify matters.”I am going through a messy divorce and my wife’s lawyer is tracking my Facebook profile. Any remotely intimate conversation with a member of the opposite sex could be interpreted as infidelity and I would be slapped with anti-dowry laws and made to pay heavily,” he said.

bride1.jpgAn out-of-court settlement in a failed marriage has so far cost my friend a posh south Delhi apartment and his car, assets that had taken him five years of hard work to acquire.