The body of a 19-year-old was found hanging by a tree in Moradabad on Thursday, just two weeks after the bodies of two teenage cousins was found hanging by a tree in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh in what was most possibly a case of gang-rape and murder.
In the case of the girl in Moradabad, the police suggest that the teenager was raped. On Wednesday, the body of a 44-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree in Bahraich. Despite claims that it was a case of gang rape, the police claimed that the post mortem results did not prove rape.
According to National Crime Record Bureau statistics, since 1971, India has seen a whopping 902% rise in rape case. In the two years between 2009-11 alone, India witnessed 68,000 rapes for which just 16,000 people were convicted. In the last six months alone, Delhi has recorded 787 cases of rape.
It does not help that in the face of rising cases of violence against women and a dismal conviction rate, authorities and law enforcement agencies trivialise rape cases. Be it Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav whose party manifesto during the Lok Sabha elections sought to do away with the capital punishment for those accused of gang-rape, because, "boys will be boys". Or, be it the Chhattisgarh home minister Ramsevak Paikra, who said last week that rapes do not happen on purpose. "Such incidents (rapes) do not happen deliberately; they happen accidentally," said Paikra. A few days before that, Madhya Pradesh minister Babulal Gaur sought to differentiate rapes between legitimate and illegitimate by saying that rapes were "sometimes right, sometime wrong".
"Insensitive and thoughtless comments like these show that these men come with their own biases. And being in power, they not only influence the administration, they also influence the thought process of people," said Jagmati Sanwan of the All India Democratic Women's Associations (AIDWA). "There are strict Supreme Court guidelines to punish people who hold offices when they say anything that outrages the modesty of a woman. It is time we bring in legislation to censor what our ministers say."
In the Badaun rapes, two of the accused were policemen. In Hamirpur on Wednesday, a woman was raped by three policemen at the station when she went to inquire about her husband's arrest.
"The police do not prioritise rape cases. So criminals have nothing to fear about. Most policemen in Delhi do not even know about the changes to be brought about. They don't know that a medical report is important, or how to sensitively deal with rape victims," said Sanwan.
"Mindset biases creep in; and political pressures usually halt necessary action. Today, a DG in UP said that rapes in UP are routine. This is such an irresponsible remark, coming in from a police officer; authorities like these must be suspended," said Mamata Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission of Women.
Despite the involvement of police officers in these rape cases, additional commissioner of police, New Delhi district, SBS Tyagi feels that people have not lost their trust in the police. "I don't think that for the sins of a handful, the whole institution of the police force should be brought under the scanner," said Tyagi, when asked about rape cases involving men in uniform.
"More FIRs, and more reports on TV channels and other media outlets lead to an awareness amongst women from backward classes. In UP, even murders go unreported. It is positive that rape cases are now at least being reported," said NCW's Sharma.
—(With inputs from Maninder Dabas)