The gang rape of a 17 year old girl in posh part of Hyderabad has shocked India. The accused belong to influential political families and 5 of the 6 accused are minors.
The young survivor was at a day time party on May 28 with her friends, where the accused got to know her and offered her a ride.
What followed was six hours of horror and trauma. The survivor was initially too traumatised and too afraid to speak but her parents grew suspicious after finding injury marks on her and she opened up about what had happened.
The accused have now been booked for gang rape and under the stringent POCSO ACT for minors. The punishment can be as stringent as the death penalty or life imprisonment till death or, in less severe cases, 20 years of jail. They have also been booked under the IT Act for circulating the videos and pictures of victim on social media.
Crimes by minors
What is even more appalling is how minors are committing these crimes. In the weeks that this case made headlines in India, so too did the case of a 16 year old video game addict from Lucknow who shot and killed his mother because she told him to play less.
Hyderabad's police commissioner C V Anand told NDTV that they would seek trial for all the accused as adults, so that they can get maximum punishment. He has also argued that it may be time to consider reducing the age of being treated as adult in such cases from 18 to 16.
The Hyderabad case shows us that India has learnt no lessons from Nirbhaya. In December 2012, Nirbhaya, a 23 year old physiotherapy student was gangraped brutally on a moving bus in Delhi and then left to die on the road.
She bravely fought for her life in hospital for several days as the country prayed for her recovery. But she didn’t make it.
As far as crimes against
women are concerned, we have
a long, long way to go
Her gangrape and murder lead to a huge outcry. There were unprecedented street protests in the national capital and elsewhere, which ultimately forced parliament to change rape laws and make them tougher.
Delay in conviction
Rape was redefined and the death penalty introduced but despite the overwhelming evidence, it still took 7 years to hang the 4 men convicted in Nirbhaya’s case.
Fast tracking justice is clearly easier said than done. And, it shows that the death penalty by itself is not much of a deterrent.
According to Human Rights Watch, since the laws were strengthened, there has been a 39% increase in rape complaints reported to the police, which implies that the new laws have had some positive effect.
However, the report found that despite an increased willingness to report sexual violence, there are still glaring gaps in the enforcement of these policies and cases are still frequently being handled inappropriately, so survivors are not necessarily getting justice.
About one in four rape cases actually results in a conviction, the Washington Post reported. According to most recent data by India’s National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), rape cases continue to have a low conviction rate of only 39%. Over 43,000 rape investigations were launched during 2020, but only 3,814 rape cases resulted in a conviction.
As far as crimes against women are concerned, we have a long, long way to go.
Nidhi Razdan is an award-winning Indian journalist. She is a Consulting Editor with NDTV and has extensively reported
on politics and diplomacy. Source: Gulf News