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Wondering what the question is asking you to report? A rape case. Yes, a rape. Would you – whether you’re a victim or a witness?
Take a look at the following:
– “The vast majority of women who are raped or sexually assaulted do not report the crime to police in many cases because they have little confidence that their attacker would be brought to justice.”
– “The legal system, the media and the society at large is unsympathetic to rape victims.”
– “Rape victims are afraid of the stigma that would get attached to them if they report such an incident.”
– “Rape victims feel embarrassed by the gory details they are asked over and over again by the police ‘in order to find evidence’.”
A survey claims that nearly 80% women do not report such cases – isn’t it appalling? Considering these reasons and perhaps a few others, would you also step back?
Out of the reasons cited above, three of them point towards one thing – the easy-going, non-serious, callous attitude of our legal system, the base of which is constituted by the police force, towards the complainant. There are certain factors – injuries, demeanor, withdrawal or retraction of the complaint, delayed reporting and others – which, when viewed from the point of view of the police, often serve to raise doubts regarding a complainant’s credibility – perhaps one of the major reasons which hinders the women from taking the first and the most important step to stand for themselves.
Isn’t it astounding to know that unless and until the police sees any serious, physical, visible injuries afflicted on the victim, it fails to recognize the atrocity? Why don’t the cops realize that for most victims, the most serious injuries they sustain are the invisible ones which are imperceptible to police scrutiny?
The police officials have clear views as to how a victim of rape would look and act. These fixed beliefs have the potential to impact the police judgments of the complainants. Different women react differently to this brutal deed. Then why does this inconsistency in the reactions makes the police presume that some women are just making up the whole thing?!
There are times when we are impelled to do something which we otherwise wouldn’t do – the situation at hand has all the power. Can it not be so with the rape victims too? Those who report the incident and then withdraw or retract their complaint, do so because they might be too afraid or doubtful to proceed or they decide that the likely costs of pursuing the complaint might outweigh the advantages – the result could be encountering hostile reactions from the perpetrator, negative responses from family or friends, and disbelieving or judgmental police perceptions. But does this withdrawal or retraction of a rape allegation give any right to the police to interpret this as an evidence that the allegation was fabricated?
Isn’t it normal and obvious for a rape victim to feel traumatized and shamed in the aftermath of rape? So if she fails to report the enormity instantaneously, what right do the cops have to regard a delay in reporting the sexual assault offences as abnormal and doubt the victim’s credibility?
Are we living in a world where a woman is forced to undergo the trauma of such a hideous crime at the hands of men, whom she brings into the this world, just because ‘they’ consider her as a ‘sex object’, and then wage a battle to get justice, which at times is an unending one, for the evil done to her? What wrong has she done to anyone to face the inhumane treatment meted out to her by everyone? Why does she have to ‘prove’ to the police and it has to be ‘proven’ through the medical tests that she has been raped? Aren’t her words enough to testify?
Now that you’ve learned of the drawbacks of reporting the attack, i.e., the attitude of the police force, does it give you all the more reasons to not take this first step?
If so, wait!
“All is not lost for rape victims!”
Episode one of Satyamev Jayate 2 was based on the issue whether the Nirbhaya rape case has really been able to bring about a change. Though there were cases where the victims and their families succumbed to their fate, the episode also showcased two rape survivors – one from a rural village and the other from Kolkata’s Park Street – who have been fighting the battle against the iniquity with their family’s support. These two women must have narrated their heinous incidents countless times but they have managed to overcome society’s glaring and judging eyes, stand up for their rights and live life again on their own terms. Both these women are truly an inspiration for those women who might just be about to give up their fight to get their offenders behind the bars.
“I am a woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again”
(Lines taken from Helen Reddy’s song – I am woman)
– Article by Kriti.