Another case of police insensitivity came to light when inquiries were made into the rape case of a JNU second year student who was turned away by the local police station when she tried to register an FIR. The police officials also denied her request for a woman officer to escort her to a safe place.
The 21-year-old woman, currently studying in JNU, was drugged and raped by a drunk cab driver on the night of August 2nd, while she was returning from a Buddhist temple in the Mandir Marg area. As per her statement, she had tried to escape the perpetrator but the harasser chased her down, grabbed her by her hair and forced her to sit in the cab. After which, he sexually harassed her and drove her around for three hours.
For years, rape survivors in India have endured unsympathetic police and a weak criminal justice system. As many as 99% percent of sexual assault cases go unreported in our country which is now known for being the most unsafe place in the world for women.
After gaining consciousness, she managed to run away from her rapist and reached the Vasant Kunj police station, the nearest police station to JNU. When she recounted her story to the police officials, she was dealt with sheer indifference and was sent back alone in the middle of the night.
Unable to process what had happened to her, the traumatised victim was not able to reach her hostel by herself and spent the next two days on the road. Finally, a passer-by helped her reach her hostel, where she informed the college authorities who took her to the hospital and lodged a complaint with the police. The medical reports confirmed the sexual assault.
Upon interrogation, the police officers tried to absolve themselves by discrediting the story of the survivor. They targeted her saying that there were discrepancies in her account and that there were no injury marks on her body.
Sadly, it is not the first case of police insensitivity in crimes against women. For years, rape survivors in India have endured unsympathetic police and a weak criminal justice system. As many as 99% percent of sexual assault cases go unreported in our country which is now known for being the most unsafe place in the world for women.
Despite the fact that it is punishable for a police official to refuse an FIR especially in the cases of sexual harassment, many police officials unflinchingly continue to do so. In the case of JNU student, not only the police officials disobeyed the law but also dismantled the survivor’s credibility by indulging themselves in rape myths. The reason they gave for not registering the complaint was the common misconception that it’s rape only when the survivor has the severe injuries to show for it. The right of the victim was violated just because she did not conform to the idealised version of what a rape victim should look like.
This endless acceptance of rape myths and dismissal of the stories of rape survivors has silenced rape victims to the extent that many victims choose not to approach police for help. The poor treatment of the survivors leads them to face secondary victimisation at the hands of police officials. In fact many times, police officials are predatory and opportunistic of the circumstances of the crime victims. Last week only, a station house officer of Gurgaon police station was arrested for raping a woman who had approached the official to file a case against her husband.
IN THE CASE OF JNU STUDENT, NOT ONLY THE POLICE OFFICIALS DISOBEYED THE LAW BUT ALSO DISMANTLED THE SURVIVOR’S CREDIBILITY BY INDULGING THEMSELVES IN RAPE MYTHS. THE REASON THEY GAVE FOR NOT REGISTERING THE COMPLAINT WAS THE COMMON MISCONCEPTION THAT IT’S RAPE ONLY WHEN THE SURVIVOR HAS THE SEVERE INJURIES TO SHOW FOR IT.
It is disempowering when the police which is supposed to be the most trusted institution of society abuses women. Till date, no concrete actions have been taken to tackle this widespread problem of police misconduct and sexual abuse. There is still no news on, if the action was taken against the police officials who refused to register the complaint of the survivor. The rapist still hasn’t been caught and continues to roam freely. It is sickening how lackadaisical the system gets when it comes to probing the cases of sexual assault.
According to the recent official reports, between 2015 and 2018, the states and union territories used less than 20 percent of the budget allocated to them under the Nirbhaya Fund Scheme. The Nirbhaya Fund Scheme was set up by the central government in 2013 following a paramedical student’s brutal gangrape in a moving bus.
The fund was created to ensure the safety of women and prevent such cases from happening in the future. But the recent statistics prove that safety of women is only of secondary importance to a nation which sees 106 rapes a day. An analysis further revealed that centre’s allocation to Nirbhaya’s fund has been decreasing with every coming year.
Similarly, there have been no effective results on the ground of the Gender Sensitisation Training Programmes that were promised under the National Commission for Women (NCW). The police approach to rape complainants continues to be bigoted and inconsiderate.
There is an immediate need of fixing the cracked police system of our country and of holding the men in power accountable. We need a better and transparent data to evaluate police and crimes against women. It would take more than hollow promises to revive the trust of women in the Indian police.
Featured Image Source: Hindustan Times