Hathras rape case – Police has shamed all
By: Fahid Fayaz Darangay
The incident that forced me to write on this sensitive social issue was the recent Hathras rape case where a 19 year old Dalit girl was brutally gang raped and her family was not given the right to perform her last rites after she succumbed to injuries in a Delhi hospital.
After the Delhi Nirbhaya case, I thought that this dastardly incident would change the mindset of the people in our country. But nothing of the sort happened. For people to wake up against this heinous crime, every year a brutal case is needed – be it Imrana Rape Case in 2005, Scarlett Keeling Rape and Murder in 2009, Park Street Rape Case in 2012, Nirbhaya in 2012, Mumbai photo journalist intern gang rape in 2014, Kathua rape case in 2018 or recent Hathras rape case.
Hathras rape case and the way police dealt with it is shocking. When the victim was battling for life in a hospital, no one from police or any other government agency bothered to side with her and her family. And once she succumbed, her family was not allowed to carry out here last rites. She was cremated as if police was doing away with some garbage. This is how those, who are supposed to protect the people, treat the people. In such an atmosphere how could one expect the same police to deal with rapes and to help rape victims?
Some shocking empirical evidences:
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, police recorded 33,977 cases of rape in India in 2018 – that works out to a rape every 15 minutes. While I am writing this article, some brutes will be raping some innocent one somewhere. The figures released by the Bureau are the ones which were reported. Given the stigma attached to the brutality, (unfortunately the victim is stigmatized), there would be much more cases that go unreported. The campaigners say the actual numbers are much higher as many cases are not even reported. The main reason many cases are not reported is the way the rape victims are treated after suffering the trauma.
The survivors are forced to narrate repeatedly their horrifying stories to every single official, hence humiliated by the police perssonnel.
The doctors also humiliate and discriminate the survivors. They force them to take the most horrible test to confirm the habituality of sexual intercourse. The two-finger test also known as the PV (Per Vaginal) is an intrusive physical examination of a woman’s vagina to figure out the laxity of vaginal muscles and whether the hymen is distensible or not. In this, the doctor puts two fingers inside the woman’s vagina and the ease with which the fingers penetrate her are assumed to be in direct proportion to her sexual experience. Thus, if the fingers slide in easily the woman is presumed to be sexually active and if the fingers fail to penetrate or find difficulty in penetrating, then it is presumed that she has her hymen intact, which is a proof of her being a virgin.
Reference to past sexual history was banned in rape trials in 2003 (proviso was added to Section 146 of the Indian Evidence Act) but the two-finger test leading to the formation of medical opinion regarding consent allows past the sexual history of the rape survivor to prejudice her testimony. The test itself is one of the most unscientific methods of examination used in the context of sexual assault and has no forensic value. Whether a survivor is habituated to sexual intercourse prior to the assault has absolutely no bearing on whether she consented when the rape occurred. Section 155 of the Indian Evidence Act, does not allow a rape victim’s credibility to be compromised on the ground that she is “of generally immoral character,” as reported by Times of India.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the test is “unethical”, as a detailed examination of the hymen alone is often questionable in cases of suspected rape.
Apart from the violation of human rights, the test “could cause additional pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, leading to re-experience, re-traumatization and re-victimization.”
“The test is rape in itself,” says Sheraz Ahmed, Program Officer at War Against Rape (WAR), an NGO that assists survivors of sexual assault to report cases and provides legal advisory services, including counselling, and empower women during the rehabilitation process.
Another trauma a rape survivor goes through is the victim blaming. The survivors are blamed for their dress and I have often listened to the people saying it is the victim’s fault this is happening. Many studies have found that after rape, the rapists took some evidences for using as material for blackmail. Videos are shot, pictures are taken and some powerful rapists even murder or blackmail the survivors’ family.
Need of the hour:
Empirical analysis is showing that rapes are increasing in numbers. The thought process, the ideology is needed to be changed which requires a very hard effort and it will take time. The thing really we can control immediately in the short run is the aftermath, the rape victim, her family goes through. We can frame such medical procedures, such rules which will reduce the depression of a rape survivor.
The role of parents is of utmost importance. We need to educate the male children at the earliest. Let me share with you a What’s App chat between father and her daughter in this regard:
“Daughter: Daddy I’m going to join a protest in Multan tomorrow. No matter what. There is a protest against incompetence of CCPO and no accountability for rapists and rape Apologists and the law makers. I am going with my friends.
Father: OK, and you may take Ali (brother) with you as well, not as a protector but for his education.”
This was shared by a Pakistani singer, Yashal Shahid on Instagram.
This is how parents can educate their male children so that they don’t turn into beasts and indulge in heinous crimes like rape.
Coming back to Hathras rape case, it is evident that the UP government has made a bad precedence that, instead of checking the menace of rapes, would only encourage the rapists to have field day and target the victims from poor and marginalised sections of the society.
– The writer is Honours in Economics from Aligarh Muslim University and is pursuing Masters in Financial Economics from Madras School of Economics, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.