Saturday, June 29, 2013

Six steps India can take to help rape victims

NEW DELHI (TrustLaw) - The outcry over the brutal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi last month has not only brought into focus the issue of violence against women in India but has also shone a light on the way the country's criminal justice system frequently fails rape victims.
There were 24,206 rapes reported in 2011 by the National Crime Records Bureau, equivalent to one rape every 20 minutes.

While many Indians are calling for changes in the law such as capital punishment for rapists and new legislation to protect women, many civil rights' lawyers disagree. They say India has good gender laws already, but they need to be strengthened and enforced.
The following is a list of six steps India can take to ensure rape victims receive adequate care and support and that swift justice is delivered, compiled from interviews with police, lawyers and human rights activists.

Like most large organisations in the country, India's police force is male-dominated – only 6.5 percent of officers are women. Deep-rooted patriarchal beliefs mean the police force, like many other institutions such as government bodies or parliament, is often seen as insensitive to the issues faced by women. Gender sensitisation training as well as increasing the number of female police officers in India will help change attitudes within the police force, activists and lawyers say. This would also help ensure victims' complaints are treated seriously and sympathetically.

There have been numerous cases of girls and women being turned away by the police when they try to report a rape – officers do not take the crime seriously or they blame the victim.
In many instances, the largely underpaid, overworked police officers have little interest in registering or investigating a gender crime that can take years to reach judgment. Sometimes, if the accused is powerful or wealthy, police can be influenced into taking no action.
Activists say current methods of filing complaints against the police are cumbersome and difficult for the average Indian. A simple mechanism should be set up to channel and address public complaints and police should be penalised or suspended if found guilty of dereliction of duty, they add.

India has no formal protocol in place for medical or psychological support of victims. They are often not given adequate treatment for injuries or infections, let alone counselling.
Cases have been reported of traumatised victims who are made to go from one government hospital to another for medical examinations or who are forced to sit for hours in bloodied clothes after the assault.
Activists say there needs to be a standard protocol across the country to examine and treat rape victims, such as the World Health Organisation's guidelines for medico-legal care for sexual assault victims.

A failure to invest in the police force has left many officers lacking the expertise and resources required to conduct adequate investigations, resulting in weak evidence and low convictions.
Lawyers say the handling of forensic evidence such as fingerprints, hair or nail samples – a key component in rape cases where the onus lies with the prosecution to prove the rape – is often collected, transported and stored in a careless manner.
The core competencies of the police need to be strengthened and officers must be given training and resources to carry out their work, lawyers say. Standard operating procedures for conducting investigations need to be applied across the country, they add.

One of the biggest impediments to gaining justice for rape victims is the lengthy duration of the trials, awyers say.
A lack of prosecutors, judges and courts mean that an average rape case can take five to 10 years to get to the judgment stage, leaving victims or other witnesses vulnerable to intimidation or unwilling to pursue such drawn-out court trials.
The Delhi gang rape has fuelled demands for special fast-track courts to deal with crimes against women, but some lawyers say not only are such courts costly but that swift justice does not always mean just justice.
Some legal experts add that India needs to invest more in the legal and judicial system and concentrate on hiring of thousands more judges and prosecutors.

Victims and witnesses can be intimidated by the accused, who in some cases is granted bail by the court, even though rape is a non-bailable offence.
As a result, victims can feel pressured into accepting illegal "out-of-court" settlements such as a small cash payment. In more extreme instances, the victim's family is pressurised into marrying their daughter to the accused.
Lawyers and activists say India needs an official witness protection program in place for victims of sexual assault and other serious offences.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Pizza, delivered with a side of attempted rape

There’s one thing that an Indian household has always had: trustworthy strangers. Home delivery may be a modern term, but it’s been part of the average Indian home for decades. Thanks to people like the vegetable and fruit seller, the person who brings the ironed clothes and the domestic help, an Indian household is an ecosystem composed partially of strangers. In it, the food delivery man is a recent entrant, but he has quickly become entrenched in the daily routine of urban Indian households. Especially the pizza delivery boy.
According to a report by the National Restaurant Association of India, around 80% of consumers order in food at least twice a month at the minimum. Italian cuisine — which in home delivery terms consists mainly of pizza – is the most popular cuisine to be ‘ordered in’ in India. The pizza delivery boy is someone most people wait for anxiously and greet with a grin. He isn’t someone from whom we expect to need protection.

File photo of pizza. Image courtesy IBN Live
File photo of pizza. Image courtesy IBN Live

It’s this assumption that led to a young woman being assaulted and almost raped by a pizza delivery boy. A 17-year-old delivery boy returned after making an initial delivery on some pretext, and after attempting to rape the woman, bashed her head in, and then ran away.
Turns out, there is no official vetting process to decide delivery boys. Amar Jhunjhunwala, 46, who owns a fast food joint in Chembur that enjoys enthusiastic patronage from families in the neighbourhood, said, “I’ve never done a background check on a delivery boy, I have to admit. Why would I feel the need? And none of the other restaurant managers I know have done it either. It’s the most basic function of a restaurant.”
But can’t delivery boys at least be vetted as those who have been in the restaurant’s employ for a while? “It actually works the other way,” says Jhunjhunwala, who ran a burger joint in Andheri (East) for five years before starting his second restaurant in Chembur. “Boys work in delivery, and slowly make their way up to the kitchen and managerial roles. Of course, with this incident, I’m sure all restaurant owners are going to be very careful.”
Someone who won’t have a chance to be careful is the owner of Chovisum, the outlet whose delivery boy is guilty of assault and attempted rape. The owner, Swapnil Parab, has seen his business disappear since the incident. “The boy was a dropout who usually never makes deliveries,” Parab insisted in media reports in the Mumbai Mirror and the Hindustan Times. “It was just this time…he’s ruined my business.”
Is there any hope for a regulatory process to be enforced in the restaurant delivery business? According to a member of the National Restaurant Association of India, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, it’s almost impossible. “There are many neighbourhood restaurants which are not accounted for by us,” he said. But he admitted that more can be done to ensure a consumer’s safety. “An in-house vetting process should be non-negotiable.”
At present, the Food Safety and Standards regulations are the only rules by which Indian restaurants have to abide. These regulations cover aspects like salary and training of restaurant employees, but do not touch upon home deliveries, which are an increasingly important part of the Indian food industry.
Till then? Recently, after reading the report of the 25-year-old woman being assaulted by the Chovisum employee, a friend of mine and I tried to reconfigure the logistics of accepting home delivery.
“Should we keep the door-chain latched and pass the money through it?” she suggested.
“But a pizza won’t fit through the chain-gap,” I pointed out.
“I guess we could ask them to leave it outside, and take it when the delivery guy is done,” she said triumphantly.
So this could soon be the new guideline to prevent rape: skulk behind your door when receiving a delivery, wait till the sound of steps has faded away, then dart out quickly, grab your food and run back in.


Two cops suspended for Gurgaon gang rape

GURGAON: Two policemen were suspended Friday for the gang-rape of two Delhi-based women in a moving car early Thursday, police said.

Balraj Singh, an assistant sub-inspector and in-charge of MG Road police post and head constable Dinesh Kumar were suspended for negligence of duty. They were on duty when the two women were raped in the car.

Police said that when the victims informed the police control room about the incident early Thursday, Kumar failed to convey the message to Singh as he did not have his cellphone number.

Kumar was suspended for not giving his cellphone number to the police post.

Two Delhi-based women aged 25 and 27 were gang raped here in a moving car while going home from a pub.

The women had hired a car outside Sahara Mall to go to Tughlaqabad in south Delhi. The driver picked up two other men. The women were gang-raped on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road while four friends of the accused followed in another vehicle, police said.

The women were dumped on Gurgaon-Faridabad Road, from where they contacted police.

The five accused are cab drivers and were arrested Thursday. Another accused was arrested Friday while one is absconding. 

Two sentenced to death for rape and murder

NAGPUR: Seven years after a 19-year-old girl from Kalmeshwar was raped and murdered in a gruesome manner, the court on Friday sentenced the perpetrators — two hardened criminals — to the gallows. Rakesh Kamble (25), a resident of Gaurakshan slums in Wardha, and Amarsing Thakur (27), from Bajrang Nagar in city, were convicted for kidnapping, murder, and rape of Kanchan Meshram, a resident of Lonara slums in Kalmeshwar on December 18, 2005.

These two join seven others in the 'death penalty' club of Nagpur court over the last five years.

Looking at the past criminal record of the accused duo, including fleeing from police custody, the third district and sessions judge Vibha Ingle had no hesitation in putting the dastardly act under "rarest of rare" category. "They be hanged by neck till dead," the court mentioned while reading out an operative order in the packed courtroom.

Apart from the capital punishment, the duo was awarded lifer for gang rape, 20 years rigorous imprisonment for kidnapping for murder and another 10 years for criminal intimidation and trespassing into house at night. They were also fined Rs 22,000 on various counts. All the jail terms will run concurrently, the court ordered.

However, the duo was acquitted of charges under the Arms Act and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Citing testimony of 19 witnesses, including the girl's parents, brother and other villagers, assistant public prosecutor (APP) Kalpana Pande strongly advocated the maximum punishment, contending that the accused were serial offenders and showed no signs of reformation.

Security was tight inside and outside the courtroom, considering the fact that the accused duo had a history of fleeing from custody and had created trouble every time they were brought for a hearing. Even Sadar PI Rajratan Bansod was personally present. There was no remorse on the faces of the convicts when the verdict was announced and they even threatened media persons with dire consequences.

The night of horror

Pande said the history-sheeter duo were friends with a cousin of the deceased and used to tease her. A few days before the incident, Kanchan had even rapped Rakesh for indecent behaviour and thrown a slipper at him. An enraged Rakesh then decided to teach her a lesson. He barged into the girl's small hut with Amarsing at about 3am, when she was sleeping with her parents and brother. Both were armed with knives and a country-made revolver.

Sensing trouble, Kanchan's mother signalled her to escape. She ran away from home and took shelter under the bed in her uncle's house. However, the goons entered by breaking open the front door and dragged her out. Her parents and other villagers tried their best to stop them, but the goons brandished their weapons to keep them at bay while taking her away.

Next morning, Kanchan's naked body was found at a nearby farm with 14 injuries, including stab marks and scratches on her private parts. Her blood stained clothes were lying all over the farm and blood was found splattered at many places, providing ample testimony of the spine chilling torment she underwent. The post mortem report confirmed her rape and murder.

The accused had fled to an unknown place after committing the crime. After a complaint was lodged at Kalmeshwar police, Rakesh was arrested at Khamgaon in Buldhana on June 6, 2006, six months after the incident. However, it took over five years for the police to nab the other accused Amarsing on May 29, 2005. In fact, he was arrested by Gwalior police for some other offence and was brought to the city for this case.

6-yr-old battles for life after rape

Barasat: Barely three weeks after the brutal rape and murder of a 20-year-old in Barasat'sKamduni, a 6-year-old girl in the same North 24-Parganas town is battling for her life in hospital after being allegedly raped by a 52-year-old man on Thursday evening.

Several stitches were administered to her private parts. The accused and her neighbour, Majid Ali Middyar, has been arrested. Demanding his death sentence, more than one hundred people launched an agitation in front of the Barasat police station on Friday.

The incident comes barely three weeks after the Barasat's Kamduni case in which a 20-year-old college girl was brutally gang raped and murdered by at least eight persons. While the Kamduni incident stirred across the state and even hit the all-India news headlines, but the court trial has not started yet as the CID already missing the chief minister Mamata Banerjee's 15 days deadline, are yet to submit the chargesheet against the accused in Barasat court till on Friday.

At around 7.30pm on Thursday when the girl, a Class-I student of a local primary school, was standing alone in front of her house at Ramakrishnapur near Barasat's Kajipara, Majid - a truck driver - lured her with chocolate and took her to his home. The girl, daughter of a daily wage earner, agreed to go to Majid's house as she also wanted to watch TV.

"After reaching home, Majid sent her daughter-in-law to shop and then gagged the girl and raped her. The girl somehow managed to remove the clothes from her mouth and screamed in pain. On hearing her screams, a neighbour rushed to Majid's home," alleged a local. took the girl to his home, his eldest daughter-in-law was only in the house. He also sent her to a local shop to buy something. Then the monster tortured the little girl brutally even after gagged her with a piece of cloths. He continued the torture her sexually till she somehow managed to remove the cloth from her mouth and screamed in pain. On hearing her screams a woman, a next door neighbour rushed to the Majid's residence to find him torturing the little girl sexually," a local said.

Majid then threatened the woman with dire consequences if she did not leave the place immediately. But the woman started to scream drawing the attention of others in the area, who later roughed up Majid before handing him over to police. also screamed for drawing attention of other locals who rushed to the house and caught the Majid while he tried to flee the spot. Then the angry locals beat him up before handing him over to the police.

The girl was rushed to the Barasat district hospital. According to a hospital sources, the girl was still in critical. "While she was taken to the hospital on Thursday evening she was still bleeding profusely. The doctors had to administer at least five stitches to her private parts. She was recovering slowly," a nurse of the hospital said who was on duty in emergency ward on Friday evening.

On Friday morning the locals gathered in front of the Barasat police station and demanded the accused to be hanged. "Those criminals like Majid deserve only death soon after committing the brutal rape on a little girl. But we have no faith on the police as they hardy take proper action against those culprits even after arresting them and the trial is delayed like recent Kamduni case," said Jharna Bibi, who rescued the girl from the Majid's custody.

The father of the girl said that he was not at his home while Majid lured her daughter to his house. "I was at outside for my job. But I got the news from a local with whom I met there. I rushed to my house while my daughter was already taken to the hospital. Majid, was my neighbour and he lives just after two houses from my residence. He used to come to my house and my daughter called him Majid Dadu. I want him only to be hanged," the father said.

The girl's kin have lodged a complaint of rape with Barasat police on Thursday night. Police, however, registered the case under section PCSO (protection of child from sexual offence), 2012, IPC 4.

"We have arrested Majid on Thursday and produced him in the Barasat court.

The case has been registered for sexual assault on a child according to PCSO (protection of child from sexual offence), 2012 Act," said Bhaskar Mukherjee, additional SP, North 24 Parganas. Majid was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.


Gurgaon gang rape: Main rape accused arrested, but ground reality unchanged

GURGAON: Gurgaon police on Friday nabbed the key accused in the Thursday early morning rape in a moving car, bringing the total number of arrests in the case to six. The accused has been identified as Dharambir, and it was he who planned the rape to get value for the Rs 10,000 he had paid to the two victims and also raped one of them.

The Toyota Corolla Altis car in which the two women were raped by the accused has been retrieved and the five persons who were arrested on Thursday were sent in judicial custody on Friday. Dharmabir had been trying to get to girls over the past week but when he couldn't he got a friend to lure them to get into his car and then carried out the rape of the victims. Police are currently interrogating him about the whereabouts of last of the seven accused, Vikram, who is at large.

"Dharambir, 27, is a native of Dor Kalan village near Narnaul and used to work as a taxi driver. We recovered the Corolla Altis car, which was used in the rape. We found out during the interrogation that the accused had raped the victims without using contraceptives. There is a possibility of getting strong biological evidence against the accused from the car," an investigating officer said.

The victims of the horrific incident were two Delhi-based women who had hired a private cab a little after 12.30am on Thursday after finishing their work in a pub. The two residents of Tughlakabad had left Empire Club in Metropolitan Mall on MG Road at 12 midnight. Sources said that the two were entry "escorts" and regulars at the club for three days in a week and would help boys to gain the cheaper "couple entry" and avoid the expensive "stag entry".

On the same day police arrested five of accused, identified as Devender, Parmod, Harish Khan alias Nisar, Satish and Devinder. One of the accused is a native of Mewat district while the other four belong to Nangal Peepa village in Mahendergarh distirct. An Indica car has been retrieved from them. One of the two victims, who is 27 years old, told police that they had come out of Empire Club a little after midnight and reached in front of Club-18 in an auto. Since their taxi driver had not reached in time to pick them up, they hired a Toyota Altis car for Rs 300 in front of Vipul Agora Mall building.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New Anti-Rape Laws In India Fails to Address Root Causes

‘Opportunity Lost’ As New Anti-Rape Laws In India Fail to Address Root Causes – UN Expert

New York, May 3 2013 - Laws recently passed in India to prevent and prosecute rape and other sex crimes “do not go far enough,” a United Nations independent expert said today, lamenting that the legislation failed to address systemic gender inequalities in Indian society.
“The opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and non-discrimination rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination, and to protect and prevent against all forms of violence against women, was lost,” said Rashida Manjoo, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women.

Just back from a 10-say visit to India, she said that while the reforms were commendable, they did not fully reflect the recommendations in the report produced by the Verma Committee – named after former Chief Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma – which was set up in the wake of the death of a 23-year-old woman whose gang-rape in New Delhi sparked nationwide protests.

The report made a series of recommendations to tackle violence against women in India, and UN human rights officials urged the Government to follow through with them. Ms. Manjoo reiterated those calls, pressing authorities to address the multiple and intersecting inequalities and discrimination that women face.
“My mandate has consistently voiced the view that the failure in response and prevention measures stems from a Government’s inability and/or unwillingness to acknowledge and address the core structural causes of violence against women,” she said, adding: “The unfortunate reality is that the rights of many women in India continue to be violated, with impunity as the norm.”

Violence again against women and girls in India manifests itself in numerous ways, including domestic violence, caste-based discrimination, dowry-related deaths, witch-hunting, sexual violence, conflict-related sexual violence, and forced marriages.

During her visit, the independent expert met with Government authorities and civil society in New Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu, among other regions.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. Ms. Manjoo will present her findings to the Council in June 2014.

For more details go to UN News Centre at