Justice delayed, is justice denied. Never before has this statement rung more true, than the case of the gang rape in Rohtak. A story of spine chilling proportions to say the least, the case is a classic story of truth being stranger than fiction.
In 2013, a girl was gangraped by 5 men in Bhiwani, Haryana. A case was filed, and proceedings for the same were going on. Meanwhile the family was threatened by the accused to retract their case, due to which the family shifted base to Rohtak. In July this year, two of the accused, along with three other men, abducted the girl, and gang raped her yet again. They left her to die, but she was found by a passerby and taken to the hospital.
Before we could properly understand the incident, we came to know that the Special Investigation Team created to probe into the July incident, exonerated the five accused this week. The SIT submitted the discharge report of the accused to the court of judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) Deepti, who ordered their release and fixed October 29 as the next date of hearing. Rohtak superintendent of police (SP) Rakesh Arya said all the five accused were discharged as they were found to be innocent during the course of investigations.”SIT had moved the application for the discharge after receiving all the reports, including the DNA samples and forensic reports,” he said.
While we wouldn’t want to comment on the exact details of the case as the matter is sub-judice, we are absolutely appalled at the nature of the case and how lightly law has been taken. The fact that the accused, belonging to upper caste, could exert pressure on the survivor’s family to retract their case, and force them to move out of their town, is a serious question mark on our judicial system, and the protection given to victims and their kin. Rape laws need to be strengthened and legal treatment of victims’ and witnesses, needs to improve, for such cases to be dealt with effectively.
As per the report released by National Crime Records Bureau, 2015 has witnessed a reduction in crime against women as compared to 2014. Recording a decrease of 3.1%, 2015 saw the registration of 3,27,394 cases under the head of Crimes against Women as compared to 3,37,922 cases in 2014. Cases of rape have fallen by 5.7%, coming down from 36,735 in 2014 to 34,651 in 2015. Incidents of gangrape too have shown a decrease from 2,346 in 2014 to 2,113 in 2015. While numbers have decreased, we can’t help but wonder whether this decrease is an actual reflection of reduction in crimes, or whether victims are pressurized to not adopt legal course of action, by society’s patriarchal notions about humiliation, and other such archaic thoughts.
While crimes against women have become disturbingly commonplace, what can serve as a strong deterrent to this rising number is fear of law. Our legal systems must be strong, and enforcement agencies must be rigid, for this number to decrease. The accused must not be given space to exert any influence on victims and their kin, as this serves as a major factor in the under reporting of crime cases, particularly those against women.
At Centre for Social Research, we have been involved with various ways of reducing and preventing crimes against women. The journey to a safe and just society, must be undertaken by government and civil society organizations together, and the legal system is a key wheel in this. Unless our legal processes are rigid, such cases will find their place amongst us again and again.
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