Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Consent, victim disorientation, etal

This blog post was published on Women's Web on 2nd October, 2017.

In a recent case,decided earlier this week,   the Delhi High Court judge said that a feeble no could mean yes. And then the accused, Mr Farooqui was absolved of the crime of raping a US research scholar student.This means that speaking slowly can absolve  many accused of crimes, provided ,complainant speaks in a soft voice. The complainant & accused were known to each other.Hence, the victim should have screamed no .Since it was barely audible to the accused, he thought she had agreed to his advances & so it was consent, And since she consented, there was no sexual assault & therefore, no rape.The National Crimes bureau statistics say that 70%  rapes are committed by people known to the survivors, not strangers & yet ,the judge says, between strangers consent is different from consent between  people known to each other. 

 Noise pollution be damned ! Unless one screams, nobody will come to know that somebody screaming is in trouble. And for all you know, the other person , the accused or the perpetrator may be short of hearing. Perhaps,  Mr Farooqui is short of hearing & could not hear the  no .And the judge is definitely suffering from hearing loss. He could not hear no. Perhaps, there was lots of background noise & so Farooqui was unable to hear no. And in the courtroom, there  is generally  lots of noise, so the judge was unable to hear clearly & misjudged the case.

And this is blaming the victim for the rape, by telling her that, since, she knew the accused, she should have known better ...she should have screamed & said no loudly.

This judgement raises many  questions.Will the feeble no be a yes, even in cases, where the victim is a minor? Was it so muted that not only the audibly challenged people but also the normal people were unable to make out that a no was spelt out ?Since who is short of hearing, unless medically proved is very debatable, were audiometers installed in the place where this supposed crime took place ? And how to decide, what decibel of sound is audible enough to mean no & audible enough to signify yes ? And since, we are in the throes of BetibachaoBetipadhao program, it becomes mandatory to install audiometers in addition to cctv cameras at all places specifically public places like streets, hotels, halls, etc. And this will be part of Skill India program so that many people can be trained to install , repair audiometers. The judges deserves all kudos, as he has made it possible for both the Betbachaobetipadhao & Skill India program to be implemented in  such a manner that they compliment each other.Just goes to show, that the the executive, the judiciary  & the legislative arms of the government are completely in agreement with each other !

Last week, a  girl was molested in BHU campus & the authorities took no action. And when the girls protested by sitting in dharna, they were lathi charged. And the BHU Vice Chancellor has said on record, '“Security for boys and girls can never be at par,All these rules are for their safety, all in favour of the girl students.”And BHU is of opinion, that there was no molestation..only eve teasing. If eve teasing goes unchecked, it will turn into molestation & molestation left ,as such, without any complaints will transform into rape next .Eve teasing is a crime under the Indian Penal Code ( Section 509...Insulting the modesty of a woman  ) & punishable  with 3 years of imprisonment & fine.

In other words, BHU says that men can scream loudly to supposedly eve tease and  or molest   while if girls scream in  dharna, that is unacceptable. But to be fair to BHU, the BHU incident happened before the Delhi High Court gave its judgement.

BHU is  shaming the victim by saying that unless girls are in , they cannot be secure. Oops, the BHU security cannot ensure  the safety of girls who are inside the BHU campus, though, outside the hostel.Next, it will be, that, classes will be held in side the hostel . 

It is alleged, that girls in BHU are allowed to be out till 8 pm while boys can be out till 10 pm. Even libraries are open for boys till 11 pm but obviously since girls have to be back in hostel by 8 pm, they cannot use library beyond 8 pm. This makes mockery of BetiBachaobeti padhao program of PM Modi in his constituency, Varanasi. Even internet connection, has been provided to girls hostel just two weeks ago ,while, boys have had internet facilities much before that.

If discrimination is so rampant , equality can never be achieved because mindsets are hard to break.And the VCs remarks are an indication, that, when person at the top is  a male chauvinist , what trickles down will be sexist.

So what can be done to prevent or at least try to curb such incidents of  violence against women ? 

As  actor ,Renuka Shahane, has stated in her status update on facebook, "...... it would be wonderful to put a curfew of 6 pm on men students for a change. This might make it safer for women students. Worth trying out at least once. Worth putting the onus on men students at least once, as an experiment. If the results are good we can replicate it elsewhere as well....."

It has been said, that , when Punjab terrorism was at its peak in the 1980s, violence against women had reduced in Delhi, as even men, were afraid to go out, after sunset, for fear of terrorists.

And what needs to be done to stop blâming & shaming victims of sexual violence ? People need to be trained to be sensitive. G.S.Bajpai & Mehak Bajpai have put it so succinctly , ".....The spirit of the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985, needs to be implemented. This can bring victim-orientation to our laws.......

 It is high time that our systems should look to enable the participation of the victim at various stages of the trial. For instance, the victim needs to be heard at stages like the framing of charges, discharge proceeding, bail hearing, probation hearing, sentencing and compensation. The victim would then be in a position to factor his/her experiences into the criminal justice process without adulteration of any kind. A ‘victim impact statement’ is also a mechanism in many countries to hear the victim’s views in a criminal trial. If effected, these measures have a potential to improve the quality of justice for victims of sexual crimes."

Victims should have support group / s who assist them in the case& even afterwards. The police officials, the judiciary need to made more subtle in handling such cases to do justice to the victims as they are the ones who have been violated physically as also mentally.And it is, never the fault ,of the victim/s

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