Can Sensitizing The Police And Judiciary Make Indian Women Less Afraid To Report Sexual Assault?

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Indian Society has always revered women. She is considered to represent the two halves of the divine body. They are considered to be Saraswati, Durga, Laxmi, Kali etc., worshipped across the country. According to the Mahabharat by cherishing the woman one virtually worships the goddess of prosperity.

On the darker side, the patriarchal system has continued since the time of Rig Veda till today. Rules were made by men to favour men giving them undue advantage. Women continue to suffer this discrimination in silence. There still continues to be a stereotype that women are weak and helpless who needs complete dependence on their counterparts. They believe their role is to take care of house and nurture family.

There seems to be an alarming increase in the crime against women in India. Open a newspaper or tune in to news channels and they will be bombarding with gruesome incidents against women folk. According to National Crime Records Bureau the rate of crime against women–crimes per 100,000 female population was 55.2 % in 2016, which is up from 41.7% to that in 2012. The year 2016 saw the lowest conviction rate (18.9%)–percentage of cases convicted to cases in which trials were completed by the courts–for crimes against women in a decade. If the case of Section 489A is to be taken 30-40% of women face domestic violence and only 1% come forward to report it.

So what can be various reasons that even when there are horrifying figures available out there why reporting is not efficient?

The major reason that can be attributed to this pathetic condition of crimes going unreported in India is that there is mistrust and little trust on police and judiciary that their attacker would be brought to justice. Even if they somehow overcome the hurdles and choose to report it the case will go on for years. It is pertinent to note here that in most of rape cases the victim is made to go through hostile arrangement with uncomfortable questions being asked and character assassination of victim is common. If the trauma she went because of the incident is not enough she is blamed for getting raped. Every organ be it media, police, medical practitioners, judiciary is unsympathetic to rape victim. Also the negative attitude of society towards victims which makes them feel ashamed and humiliated. Complex procedures, low conviction rate, corruption, bribes, trivializing the issue of violence against women makes the system more phobic.

What can be done?

First and foremost is society needs overhaul both materially and mentally. It is high time we come out notion woman is weaker or different from man in any respect. If the attitude is set right bright things will follow. More women should be recruited in police force so that female victims can confide in them. It will boost the confidence of these aggrieved women who feel reluctant to reveal information to male staff. There should be provision rapes, sexual harassment, cruelty and domestic violence etc. cases should be handled by women cops.

There is a dire need to conduct gender sensitization training courses for police. At present, the concept of gender is grossly misunderstood and not properly implemented by the majority of police officers. Even if there is awareness, the cult of masculinity prevailing in the police organizations does not easily permit a change in the attitude and behaviour of male police personnel toward women.

Though lot of homework needs to be done but there are few examples where some initiatives have been made in this regard. The Delhi Police has been making efforts to impart gender sensitization training to Inspectors/Sub-Inspectors with the help of Gender Training Institute, New Delhi, the credit for this goes to none other than Dr. Kiran Bedi,. Similar kinds of training courses are also being organized for Inspectors/Sub-Inspectors in Maharashtra as well. The module used in Maharashtra was used for conducting gender training courses by Madhya Pradesh Police.

The gender sensitization is first step to reduce the crime against women as it will ensure victim is brought to the notice of law. It will ensure no woman endures pain in silence. It will ensure women feel empowered and have trust in legal system. It will go in long way to make India a better and safe place for women.