Rape is an increasingly worrying phenomenon. It still remains a challenge for all of us to save women from such violence. This needs cooperative contribution from every section of society.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a speech on the computerization of the Supreme Court, said, “…..The problem is with the mindset.”
It cannot be a coincidence that mindset question was raised up in an event related to Indian Judiciary. Here’s an analysis of a particular mindset in Judiciary which needs a critical and rational recapitulation with analysis.
In 2015, the British filmmaker, Leslee Udwin, made a documentary on the ‘Nirbhaya Incident’. This was made with full cooperation and consent of parents. The government of India, on the other hand, quoted its telecast as a move to defame India. But this had a very disturbing side too.
When the defence Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma in Nirbhaya case blamed the victim for this heinous act. He came up with many derogatory remarks among them one was: “Rape is the last stage. The first stage is excitement, second is the circumstance, the third stage is the consent of the girl, and the final is rape.”
I consider this opinion as a problematic sign for women which deepens the system of gender stratification and inequality. It is a problem of the judiciary because being a responsible institution such discriminatory statement shows its incapability towards taking a stand of equality for women.
Advocate A.P.Singh was heard of taking an inhumane stand in which he directly said, “If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.” Sociologically, this statement is a proof of social control over women in a patriarchal society. It is an attempt to perpetuate subordination and fear within women section.
A bench of the Honorable Punjab and Haryana High Court in a 12-page order, delivered by justices Mahesh Grover and Raj Shekhar Attri on September 13, 2017, granted bail to three men who were convicted by a trial court in Sonepat for repeatedly gang-raping and criminally intimidating a fellow university student.
While granting bail to the three former law students, the court has based it on the victim’s mindset. It is a constitutional right for a convict to demand bail, and it is the power which judiciary holds but at the same time, the dignity of the survivor must not be compromised by re-victimising the rape survivor.
The court order gives a wrong message to those who perpetrate such a crime. Judges refer to ‘promiscuity’, ‘adventurism’, and ‘experimentation in sexual encounters’, saying that the victim’s character cannot be the subject of gang rape trial.
The order states- the accused are young, and the narrative does not throw up gut-wrenching violence. Is this an acceptable stand taken by the institution of justice? Is it not a travesty of justice?
Mahmood Farooqui, a renowned film director, was convicted of forcible sex. Later he was acquitted by Delhi High Court. After the 2012 Delhi rape case, the definition of rape has undergone huge expansion which considers oral rape as an act of rape.
Here the convict has shown his double stand in which first he denies of any such forcible act from his side and later retreats by terming it as a consensual act. This is a blunder committed by Delhi High Court, which proves a moral crisis within it.
A simple Google search can help me prove this point.
Our society strongly follows the ideals of Manusmriti, which dictates how women must be in social life. This obviously, needs a bit of recall. Here are two quotations from it-
“A female child, young women or an old woman is not supposed to work independently even at the place of residence.”
“Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their fathers when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently (IX/3).”
In short, a male member of a family is the sole and supreme decision maker while female counterpart will just be an executor of decisions. Is this subordination or subjugation not a question of mindset?
One can notice how the most prone section of society to sexual violence is a subject of blame. Even the claim of rape occurring only in urban India and not in the rural region of the country proves the biased mindset of male chauvinism.
The ideals of the Manusmriti are opposite to the democratisation of women rights as it upholds subordination and exploitation of women community. In the examples mentioned above, woman are held responsible for rape and not the rapist.
If this is the standard line of action of our Indian judiciary, then India can be described as a classic case of a country with ‘rape culture’.
Rape culture is an environment in which rape is a normalized and routinized behaviour. It is reflected through the use of misogynist language. In societies with a rape culture, women’s rights and safety are disregarded, and they are forced to live in an environment of perpetual fear.
The panel which was constituted after 2012 Delhi Rape case headed by Justice J.S.Verma advised that rapes should be treated as an expression of power rather than a crime of passion. In a society where patriarchy rules, women are considered inferior to men and violence against women are a sign of domination of female by the male.
In Triple Talaq issue, just one form of it was rejected by nation’s apex court, i.e. Talaq-e-Biddat which allows men to pronounce talaq thrice in one sitting sometimes scrawled in a written talaqnama, or even by phone or text message. After that, even if the man himself perceives his decision to have been hasty in hindsight, the divorce remains irrevocable.
It is a ray of hope, but this cannot be considered as complete justice to women till two other forms are considered as the subject of inhumanity.
The Constitution guarantees to all women equality, prohibition of discrimination by the state, equality of opportunity, and equal pay for equal work. It also provides for making special enactments for women and children. It renounces practices derogatory to women’s dignity and provides for just and humane conditions of work and maternity benefit. But till date, these guarantees remain a distant dream for Indian women.
Women-specific laws, namely, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, the Dowry Prohibition Act, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act have not acted as a deterrent.
But the question remains valid that just by making law can women community get all protection, social dignity? The answer lies in the mindset which prevails in a society that is patriarchy. The judiciary’s shocking stand blaming the victim of rape is outraging the modesty of women. This shatters all hope of victim.
This travesty of justice and perpetuation of injustice is failing our democracy and more than that, it is demeaning the basic rights of women. Until and unless men shed their commanding nature to see women as objects that need to be regulated, the culture of rape and blaming the rape victim will continue.
It is high time to put our humane arguments against this deeply rooted stigma.