July 19, 2020
While we talk about a dignified life, heinous social crimes like rape cast a slur on it. In a recent admission, Fr Robin Vadakkumchery, 52, a former Catholic priest from Kerala, convicted of rape, abuse and impregnating a minor has filed a plea in the High Court, seeking to marry the victim and take care of the child born to her.
In response to it, the prosecution has raised objections citing it as a means to get ease with the terms of punishment he is currently serving. Further hearings are to be taken up on 24th July.
In another incident, a young man has been booked this Friday for allegedly raping a woman at a COVID-19 care centre in Mumbai. Even rape threats are also publicly given against women via social media, akin to the one issued against a comedian Agrima Joshua. And the case of many more sexual offences goes on.
The timeline of the rape laws in India dates back to 1860s where for the first time the offence was added in the Indian Penal Code. The second amendment came after a long gap of a century in the form of Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983. This had culminated due to the widespread agitation and protest against the controversial verdict in the Mathura Rape Case in 1972.
On the recommendation of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, there were sets of amendments brought upon the criminal laws by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
This too was only an outcome of the previous decade’s most heinous crimes – the December 16 gang rape and murder in Delhi in 2012. The recent amendment- the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, which for the first time had put death as a ‘possible’ punishment for rape against minors, came after the Kathua rape case only and not before.
The National Crime Records Bureau annual report of 2018 shows that 33,356 rape cases were reported across India, which means every hour 3.8 cases are formally registered. It is not unlikely that there would be many more cases that don’t come up for official records.
In the wake of the hour, the limits have been breached and the people need to raise a strong opinion against the legislators as to why aren’t stronger laws being framed to stop rape against women.
Will their eyes and ears open only when the crimes hit their doors? Maybe the absence of stringent laws provides the slightest opportunity to the offenders not to think twice before they act of crime. Or the fact that the conviction rate is very slow, taking several years too, to deliver justice, has not been able to change the mindset of the offenders.
The fact is very clear that there needs to be a revolutionary amendment not only to the laws currently present but also the mode of its execution and implementation that is carried out.
The Constitution of India in its Part III – Fundamental Rights -Article 21 stipulates, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. The article guarantees all individuals the right to life and liberty. Of the many inferred rights derived from Article 21, by the Supreme Court, one amongst those is the right to live with human dignity. It augments more to mere existence and survival of a person, encompassing all those characteristics and opportunities to make a person’s life purposeful and worth living.”
A crime like rape not only injuries the body but corrodes the very essence of this fundamental right given to us. It also leaves behind the soul fractured and life in a state of disrepair. It induces hatred and a sense of doubt towards half the population till lifetime. Only a person who has gone through this stigma can feel its effect.
The impacts are certainly immeasurable and hence the need to correct the anomaly comes first. A society is healthy only when everyone has their right to live a life where their heads never bow down in shame or guilt. And, this can only happen when crimes like rape evaporate from society.
Article Written By Nimai Ranjan Bibhar
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