“Nayee Dilli – Mar 22nd,2033
In what was the “Rape Capital” of India – Nayee Dilli (once called New Delhi) feverish activity is going on in the Government circles to observe and celebrate the 20th year anniversary of passing of the ‘Criminal Law ( Amendment) Bill 2013 more commonly known as the “Anti Rape Law”. Why not? As per statistics released by the Home Ministry on the eve of the anniversary, rape as an offence has been steadily on the decline since the day the Anti-Rape law saw the light of the day and is almost wiped out since last 5 years in India. The silent winding up of quite a few women organisations supporting the cause of women safety in the last many years supports the statistic. Units which we were in the business of mfg. ‘Pepper sprays’ and other handy weapons have been consistently reporting losses in the few years and reportedly now turning sick and since this activity was reserved for Small Scale Industries it is turning into a new head ache for the Government. The Home Minister is slated to address an “Online” presser in a short while where even common public can ask questions (which are pre approved by the ministry). Not only Dilli, but across the once notorious rape Kendra’s of India, women now walked freely in the night, partied hard with ‘gay’ abandon, took up night shift jobs without fright and almost all countries lifted their travel advisories for women against travelling to India which has been in vogue since 2013. In short one can conclude that India finally attained “Real freedom” as envisioned by Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi”
Cut, Cut, Cut – Well, that was a fantasy ride into the future. Let’s get back to reality of today. After the furore in the country in the aftermath of an extremely reprehensible act which happened in Delhi in Dec 2012, the Indian Government moved fast to pass the Anti-Rape Law on the 22nd Mar 2013. The new law includes new offences like acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking… in the Indian Penal code. It has also changed the definition of rape (sexual assault now) and finally has declared life punishment as the maximum punishment for most of the rape related crimes.
Now the question which comes uppermost in my mind and I would like to hear the answer from the female fraternity is with the passing of this bill, do they feel safer in India than before? This question arises because in India we have some greatly drafted laws but rendered useless at the end of the day due to poor implementation. “Tough laws combined with tough implementation” is the need of the hour. It’s now 3 months since the ‘Delhi horror’ happened and as it slowly moves out of the collective memories of all of us, the case is still meandering in the courts. One would have thought that it was such an “Open and Shut” case that by now the punishment would have been awarded and the case closed. Not surprising in a country where it has taken 20 full years to finally ‘sort of’ get a partial closure to the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case. Recall the well scripted “Chalta Rahe” TVC for ‘Greenply’??? If not, do check this link. That sums it all.
Hence my fervent hope that the “Anti Rape Law” got debated and discussed adequately not only in terms of the provisions of the law but also the mechanism of implementation of the law itself. On both fronts it was a big disappointment. From all accounts, it was travesty of a debate with MPs exchanging views and passing frivolous oracular comments about wooing women as men’s most favourite, undeniable pastime and birthright!!! Only one-third of the MPs turned up at the Lok Sabha when the bill was debated – so much for lessons learnt and regret after the ‘Nirbhaya‘ incident!
First on the provisions of the law –
- The maximum punishment was limited to life imprisonment while there was a mass public outcry for Capital punishment or Castration for the guilty. While there are arguments for and against primordial punishments like Capital punishment or Castration in a civilised society, my point is – a society in which women have to live in fear is never a “Civilised society”. So we could turn to more civil punishments when we become a civilised one. Till then we must have tough laws with tough punishments for heinous crimes which eventually act as deterrents. And rape is certainly one I believe.
- Recently I was reading Vinod Mehta’s book “The Sanjay Story” an account (not a biography) on Sanjay Gandhi. In that book, one chapter titled “Indiri Bachao” (Save your Penis) focusses on the Mass Sterilization programme which Sanjay Gandhi championed. It seems initially when Sanjay ‘cut’ loose this programme it was a dud and was not taking off because men didn’t want to go under the knife. In India procreation was considered such a manly thing that men were reluctant to give up that “right”. Finally Sanjay Gandhi had to adopt all techniques under the sun from incentives like Radio sets, Rice, Cash, Jobs to ‘Force’ through the local police to achieve sterilization targets. My limited point is – taking away the right of a man to procreate through sterilization or castration whichever way you call it can be a big deterrent to a crime like Rape if that was the punishment believe you me.
Second on the implementation of the law –
- No provisions / ideas for fast track courts for trials for rape cases
- No thought of an exclusive all women court to try these cases
- No new nothing!
We all know that the same we Indians behave adequately well when we step out of our shores. The difference I see is not the laws themselves but quick and tough execution of the laws and hence the fear of breaking the law.
In summary, we have another law which has just tinkered here and there with the existing provisions rather than a “Zero based” law. Hence my fundamental question which I posed – Do women feel safer today ?
Preface: Please replace the word ‘G’ by ‘P’ in the word “Rageistan” in the title and read. For, looking at the rape incidents of Indian women and foreign tourists of late, Incredible India may soon earn that title!!!
Also Read : My earlier post : Women Vs. We Men in India http://wp.me/p1dZc2-d6