Delhi gang-rape: 12-point agenda to crackdown on sexual offences
For a city that aspires to twin London and Chicago, the National Capital has some serious mulling to do. Law and Order and the citizenry’s general apathetic attitude towards women and safety at large needs paradigm change.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau`s (NCRB) statistics for 2011, Delhi is well established as the most violent city with 10% of all crimes reported across cities 53 cities occurring here.
As far as rape incidents are concerned, Delhi accounted for over 17% or 2,579 rape cases across all cities. The rate is not just twice that of Mumbai’s but more than the other three metros combined. Even though that rate of the crime is lower than many other cities when seen in proportion of population, this is only cold comfort.
And while a lot of hue and cry has been raised about the need to crackdown on sexual offences particularly rape, our legislators have not had the time to table and debate over and act pertaining to sexual offence which proposes to broaden the definition of rape and similar crimes. Nor has any hurry been shown to introduce measures to make punishments more stringent.
In such a scenario, here are some recommendations which if implemented will go a long way to make our streets safer for women. Some of these proposals have been inspired by the Stern Committee Review which had taken a comprehensive view of the problem in the United Kingdom.
1. Basic elements of the Law and Punishment related with sexual offences and particularly rape should be widely publicised and information disseminated in simple language.
2. The Home Ministry should work with the National Crime Records Bureau in order to draw conclusions from data and outline legislation for the same. Publication of crime statistics should also always be accompanied by enough explanation to ensure that their meaning can be widely understood.
3. High-quality training should be imparted to all those dealing with victims of rape, including police officials, magistrates and medical attendants.
4. Sexual Assault Referral Centres should be opened in collaboration of police stations.
5. As per historic evidence video recorded interviews not in public space draw maximum information from victims and thus should be promoted as these prevent unnecessary harassment of victims and also ensure better justice.
6. Fast track courts which deliver severe and exemplary punishment need to be set up specifically to redress sexual crimes. The level of severity in case of rape should be a minimum of life imprisonment and maximum of capital punishment.
7. ‘Guidance on Investigating and Prosecuting Rape’ manual needs to be drawn up by a committee of experts and duly followed by authorities.
8. Local citizens need to be involved so that we do not turn a blind eye when they notice an occurrence of an offense. Local committees which have a healthy female representation should be put in touch with the area’s police station and patrol parties for effective communication.
9. Education and inculcating respect for women should be the duty of not governments but communities and households.
10. Joint police/prosecution performance measures should be considered.
11. Rape should be disassociated with a woman’s honour and rather seen as a matter of perpetrator’s dishonour.
12. Rape should be seen as gender neutral especially in view increasing cases of sodomy on young boys.