Fence Eating The Farm! Who will bring the law to punish rapists in India?
The rape of the 23-year-old para-medical student in Delhi brought thousands of common citizens to the streets all over the country to protest against this heinous crime of rape. The national capital witnessed widespread demonstrations. People took to the streets demonstrating outside Rashtrapati Bhawan, Indian Parliament, Chief Minister’s Office, and Police Headquarters demanding an urgent action to protect women in the “Rape Capital of India”. This incident once again brought with it the debate for the need of a strict law against the perpetrators in the country.
Any solution is as good as the system that executes it. But who’ll ensure that the law will not be different for the rich and powerful as it seems in some cases. The molestation charges against SPS Rathore, the then Inspector General of Police of Haryana were never proved. He got away with more than a little help from his friends in the government. Manu Sharma, again from Haryana, son of Congress politician Vinod Sharma, was first acquitted for the murder of model Jessica Lal. Later when the hue and cry was made by the media and common people the judgement was overturned and Sharma was sentenced to life imprisonment.
As the outrage grows against the rape in Delhi and as Parliament discusses the issue of rape, we looked at the background of our lawmakers (MPs and MLAs) with respect to rape cases and other crimes against women based on their self-declared affidavits before the Election Commission of India.
“Rapists should get equal pain as what I am going through”
—The victim of Kolkata’s Park Street rape case
The rape of 23-year-old medical student in the national capital triggered countrywide protests. It once again brought to light the debate for the need to have strict laws to deal with the rapists in our country changing the existing laws. People from all walks of life voiced the demand to have more stringent laws to deal with such a case. What should be the punishment for rape? In an interview to Joydeep Dasgupta of Uday India the victim of Kolkata’s Park Street rape case of February 6, 2012 opened up on various issues dealing with rape and the punishments she wanted.
What punishment do you want to give to your rapist?
It should not be capital punishment because, capital punishment would end up his life, which is easy. Instead rapists should undergo the pain and live a life with physical and mental stigma, and social embarrassment which I am through. They should get equal pain as what I am going through. There should be life imprisonment; they should be kept in solitary confinement in one dark room and should not be allowed to talk to anyone, specifically to their families.
What did you feel when you heard about Delhi rape case?
I was traumatised as this incident again made me recall that horrific night in Park Street where I was beaten up like her and was thrown. I could understand her pain. What was her fault? She was only 23-year-old girl, who is also not economically affluent and just imagine even now if she survives she will have to take in intravenous injection I have come to know.
The main accused in your case is absconding. It’ll be a year in February. How does it feel when you see the main accused absconding?
I feel bad and I feel after so many months I am defeated though my case was taken up under the media pressure and there were some police officers who really helped me. I feel that my case is left on the shelf. Still I believe in God and I believe that justice must prevail one day.
Do you think that there should be a stringent law for rape?
Yes, I do believe that there should be a stringent law against such heinous crime and the police should also be pro-active in carrying out that law. It is often seen that some part of police officers do not carry out the law seriously.
What role should women play in resisting rape?
Women are always vulnerable and I don’t know what women should do. We should always try to go out with someone otherwise we are not safe, no matter how advanced we are. After what has happened with me I feel so insecure.
A report on crime against women by MPs and MLAs has recently been released by Association for Democratic Reforms, better known as ADR, and National Election Watch known as (NEW) which has brought out stunning revelation. It is appalling to note in the report that even larger number of such people have been given tickets by the parties to contest elections in last five years. They include several of our major parties.
Here are the highlights of the report involving our MPs and MLAs:
■ Six MLAs have declared that they have charges of rape against themselves in their sworn affidavits submitted with the Election Commission of India at the time of their election.
Of these 6 MLAs with declared rape cases, three are from SP—Sribhagwan Sharma, Anoop Sanda and Manoj Kumar Paras from Uttar Pradesh, one from BSP—Mohd. Aleem Khan from Uttar Pradesh, one from BJP—Jethabhai G.Ahir from Gujarat and one of TDP namely Kandikunta Venkata Prasad from Andhra Pradesh.
■ Thirty-six other MLAs have declared that they have other charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc.
Of the 36 MLAs who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, six MLAs are from INC , five from BJP and three from SP.
■ UP has the maximum number of MLAs (eight) who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, followed by Odisha and West Bengal with seven MLAs each
■ Two MPs, namely Semmalai S of AIADMK from Salem constituency in Tamil Nadu and Adhikari Suvendu of AITC from Tamluk constituency in West Bengal, have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, such as cruelty and intent to outrage a woman’s modesty etc.
■ Political parties gave tickets to 27 candidates who contested the state elections in the last five years. They have declared that they have been charged with rape.
Of these seven are Independent candidates, five have been given tickets by SP, two have been given tickets by BJP and two are BSP candidates.
Out of these 27 candidates who declared rape charges, 10 are from Uttar Pradesh, and five are from Bihar.
■ Political parties also gave tickets to 260 other contesting candidates in the Legislative Assembly Elections held in the last five years. They declared that they have charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc.
Out of the 260 candidates who declared that they had been charged with crimes against women, 72 are IND candidates, 24 have been given tickets by the BJP, 26 candidates have been given tickets by the INC, 16 have been given tickets by the SP and 18 have been given tickets by BSP.
Maharasthra has the maximum number of such candidates (41), followed by Uttar Pradesh (37) and West Bengal (22).
■ In Lok Sabha 2009 Elections, political parties gave tickets to six candidates who declared that they had been charged with rape.
Of these, one is from RPP, one from RCP, one from BSP, one from JMM and two Independent candidates.
Out of these six candidates who declared rape charges three are from Bihar, one from Delhi, one from Uttar Pradesh and one from Andhra Pradesh
■ Thiry-four contesting candidates for the Lok Sabha in 2009 General Elections declared that they had charges of crimes against women.
Twelve out of the other 34 Lok Sabha 2009 candidates declared that they had been charged with crimes against women, four are IND candidates, four are BSP candidates and two each from AITC and CPI (ML) (L).
■ Maximum cases of crimes against women are against candidates from Bihar (nine), followed by Maharashtra (six), and Uttar Pradesh (five).
Talking to Uday India, Mr Anil Bairwal, National Coordinator of Nation Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, said: “The motive behind bringing out this report is to unmask our own lawmakers and corrupt politicians, who talks big things in Parliament but are themselves accused of cases of outraging the modesty of women and committing rape. Mere talking and showing grief in Parliament is useless, until you cannot punish those accused politicians among you sitting in Parliament and thinking of bringing strict laws against rapist.” He also says ADR and NEW strongly recommend that political parties should stop giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds and who have been charged with serious crimes like murder, attempt to murder, especially crimes against women such as rape.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata