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Does the police really care about rape victims?

Friday, 30 May 2014 - 5:01pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

The issue of sensitivity to rape is not by any means a new one in the country. The Indian mindset collectively leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to successful rehabilitation of rape victims. Yet one of the most shameful problems the authorities need to address effectively is the mindset of the police officers who are in most cases the first point of contact for a woman trying to seek justice.

The most recent example of course being the Badaun Rape Case which resulted in the brutal deaths of two cousins in UP and has flared tempers across the country. The four accused which allegedly includes a police officer have incurred the wrath of the entire nation and also orders from UP CM Akhilesh Yadav demanding their immediate arrest. 

The father of the victims has said to a leading daily that after the girls went missing on Tuesday night, the brother looked for then and then returned home to tell him that they had been taken by some men from the village. 

On reaching the location, the man was told by the accused that the girls were now in their custody.

Following refusals to release the two, the police subsequently put off registering a first information for a long time and eventually the information reached the man that the two girls were found hanging from a tree after which the police were forced to file a complaint by outraged locals. 

Thus however is by no means the first instance of insensitivity on part of police officials. In a groundbreaking investigation that was carried out by undercover reporters from Tehelka, there were a series of police officers that unknowingly revealed their disrespectful and misogynistic views to the reporters pretending to be researchers. 

The investigation was carried out after the identity of a woman from Noida who had been raped was revealed to the public by the police, one officer also made snide remarks as to her character at a press conference. Not only is this in violation with  Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code but it is also a breach of simple decency  by the police at the cost of the the population they are sworn to protect. 

Sunil Kumar, SHO, Ghazipur, Delhi-NCR was quoted as having said, "Go to a pub in Greater Kailash, South Delhi, where there’s free entry for girls. You’ll find those who want to do ‘it’ for a thousand rupees. They’ll drink and also have sex with you. But the day someone uses force, it’s rape." 

To be fair too many fingers cant be pointed at him, there's more than enough questionable opinions to go around. 

* Girls from Darjeeling and Nepal have come here for business purposes. They go with men for money. Later, when the money is not sufficient, it becomes a rape: Rajpal Yadav, Additional SHO of Sector 29, Gurgaon.

* The real issue here is that the girl is a habitual vodka drinker and had asked for a vodka party. She then demanded Rs 6,000 for sex. When the money wasn’t paid, she registered a rape complaint. I have her call records that establish she had a relationship with one of the accused: Ram Kumar Malik, an investigating officer in the case of a girl raped by Std X students.

* This case is nothing. They were young kids. The girl spoke twice to the boys about striking a ‘compromise’. It’s all about money. It’s only with money deals are stuck: Jangsher Singh, SHO of the DLF Phase-2 Police Station who was investigating a case about 23 year old pub worker.

* No rape can happen in Delhi without the girl’s provocation: Inspector Sunil Kumar of Delhi Police.

These opinions that Tehelka's reporters encountered in a 2012 investigation aren't all that obsolete as witnessed by the officers in Badaun and their clear lack of concern for the victims or their family.

In 2012, following a series of such occurrences in the capital led to the authorities doing what they seem to do best in these situations, completely skirt the real situation, by telling all employers in malls and pub houses that women shouldn't be allowed to work past 8 pm  and if they dare to, needed to get permission from the Labour Department.

Not only is this a completely impractical decision in the throes of an extremely unforgiving job market, but the order was quickly taken back when the police came under extremely heavy criticism for absolving their responsibilities of keeping women safe. 

In 2013 another such official with a crude mindset was unearthed in Uttar Pradesh when he asked a Dalit woman who wished to lodge a rape case, "Who would rape an elderly woman who is a mother of four?" 

Even after the woman went to the Bankata police station they were willing to file a case of 'eve-teasing' as the medical evidence was 'not conclusive enough.'

These are only a handful of instances and choice quotes from police officials in our country.

By no means can anyone insinuate it is a generalised mindset as it would do a grave injustice to those who are actually willing to help a woman get justice in this regard, but even one instance of the sort is one too many. 

Hopefully in the Badaun rape case the perpetrators will be brought to justice and the elusive programmes that have been implemented to increase sensitivity of our police forces show some tangible results.

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