If It Takes Forever To Punish Rapists, What’s Even The Point Of Fast Track Courts?

Who knew ‘ache din’ would be the days when pepper sprays and pocket knives would be trending items on Amazon, the days when self-defense courses would be so sought after and the days when the ‘She Team’ number would be one of the items pinned on our home screens.

No, this isn’t just another article on the recent murder of the veterinarian in Hyderabad. This is about every woman, every child, and every human. This is about every ‘Nirbhaya’ who we once talked about and are now forgotten.

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Will I be able to protect myself? Will my daughter reach home safely? These are some of the questions I’m sure most of us have asked ourselves these days.

InMahabharata, Draupadi was disrobed publicly by the Kauravas. In another such instance, Ahalya Devi was forced to lead a life of dishonor by Lord Indra himself. From past to present, the circumstances remain the same, if not worse. What remains constant is the fear instilled in all of us.

Nirbhaya literally translates to “without fear” but why is that each one of us experiences this murky air of fright every time we step out alone. It’s time that our fear transmutes into the fear that every potential rapist has to face. No amount of speeches and petitions can amend this scenario.

Education and awareness can hit the mark, but most often this involves educating the girl child about how she should safeguard herself against these monstrous forces and how she must always remain alert. But, how often have we educated our sons about consent?

In most households, talking about rape is still considered a taboo, where the channel is changed immediately when the word ‘rape’ appears on the screen. We obliviously ignite misogyny with the use of female-centric foul language, where almost all bad words involve the female gender may it be mother or sister.

Education can bring about a change, but its impact cannot be noticed immediately, and our goal of achieving absolute literacy is still far-fetched. On top of that, education alone cannot stop offenders from committing such crimes.

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A lot of our sisters have already succumbed to this monstrous misdeed, we need something quick and we need something now. In the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case, out of the six accused, only four were sentenced to death.

To prevent such crimes, stricter laws were introduced through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. However, this law has its cons where there is the difference in the quantum of punishment for rape of minor boys and girls, and to keep the punishment “proportionate” the Committee supported enhanced punishment extending up to life imprisonment for rape. I feel that the use of words like “proportionate” only undermines the horrifying ordeal experienced by the victim.

All this is only possible if the trial in the court is completed within the time frame and justice is delivered expeditiously to the survivors/victims. So, the government has introduced a plan to develop about 1,023 fast-track special courts for expeditious disposal of cases related to rape and the POCSO Act.

These 1,023 fast-track courts will dispose-of 1,66,882 cases related to rape and the POCSO Act, that are pending trial in various courts. These courts will only be built temporarily for a term of one year.

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Usually, the procedure becomes even more complicated because of the innumerable appeals the accused can file because of which justice is delayed. Also, most often, the evidence is tampered with amidst the tedious procedure and because of this, only around 1 in 4 rape accused are convicted. These courts must provide a quick decision in a stipulated amount of time and must have the power to provide the final decision which cannot be appealed against.

In 2016, over 38,000 rape cases were filed, which means four women were raped every hour. I strongly feel that this can only be changed when there is fear. Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are affected.

This post was originally published here.

Featured image for representation only.
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