At the receiving end

BY ADITI WAGH & ALISHA D’SOUZA

Even among the most subjugated classes in our society, there is often one section that bears the brunt of the oppression – the women. The myriad of atrocities against women include molestation, dowry suicides and murders, eve-teasing, kidnapping, harassment by husband and family members, domestic violence and prostitution. Among all these, rape debilitates the mental strength and completely annihilates the morale of a woman.

The Mumbai Commiserate has the highest number of cases reported annually. However, Mumbai is an extensive geographical area with a number of smaller districts that are independent. The difference in the size of Mumbai and Pune makes the incidences in Pune all the more alarming. Pune has the highest incidences of rapes reported in the state, after Mumbai.

In Maharashtra, the trend has been that urban areas register more cases of violence than their rural counterparts. Pune city is an exception to this rule. According to the CID Report of 2009, more cases were reported in rural areas as opposed to urban parts of the state of Maharashtra. Pune witnessed a 27% increase in violence against women last year, in comparison to the year 2009.

A crime branch study on rape cases revealed that there was a decline in the number of rape cases over the last two years. In 2008, as many as 91 rape cases were registered in the city, while in 2009, the number was 66. Rural Pune registered about 72 cases.

Shedding some light on the statement, Jayant Umranikar, Retired Director General of Police, Special Operations said, “Rural Pune is urban in its outlook. In terms of development it surpasses even some other cities in the state. Places like Lonavala, the outskirts of the city that houses the urban IT sector cannot be termed as rural, because the population is highly urbanized.”

Offences like rape have a negative connotation amongst rural populace. It is the victim who is subjected to social stigma and shunning instead of the rapist. Despite the social stigma associated with the crime, the reason behind higher number of victims registering cases in rural area than the urban region in Pune is a cause worth investigating.

Higher education levels have made women more sensitive to these issues. They are better informed about their fundamental rights and the civil laws that protect them. They are empowered to fight these social battles. Another possible factor that encourages Pune’s rural to file complaints against atrocities is sensitivity on the part of police and legal authorities.

Highlighting an astonishing trend, Umranikar said, “Often cases that are filed are not genuine in nature. It may be a form of blackmail by a girl who was promised marriage, and later hung out to dry. Or in case of a minor who elopes, parents may file kidnapping and rape charges against the man. “

Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code states that only physical penetration without consent constitutes a rape. Our judicial system is designed such that very few cases of perjury are punished.

Women tend to use this to their advantage, by filing wrongful charges against men they want to prosecute. But in case of trial, the accused is booked under a non-bailable offence. Arrest is then the only form of justice, although the legal proceedings in courts may drag cases for years.

Approximately 60 % of rapes are instigated because the rapist’s approach is turned down by the girl, hurting his male ego. He then uses his physical strength as a symbol of his masculinity. About 30% of cases stem from sexual arousal after seeing a girl.

The remaining 10% may be attributed to intimidation tactics, where a woman maybe a witness to a crime. Rape is used against a voice that needs to be heard. In certain cases, the criminal may be a stranger to the victim. He may however perpetrate the crime to seek revenge against another loved one. Rape may also be a method to enforce a sense of domination over the victim.

For these victims who are subject to inhuman brutality, there are rehabilitation measures offered by the government. One such governmental wing which functions under the Police Department is Prevention of atrocities against women (PAW).

It is a mandatory unit for every police station. It provides counselling for victims and criminals associated with a wide range of crimes. Of course, as in other crimes, in case of rape as well, the rapist has to be psychologically unfit which is an aspect police discovers during the investigation. It is only post the declaration of his mental illness that the criminal is sent to the counselling department for treatment.

Rape is physical force applied to make a statement. However, Jayant Umranikar believes that mere statistics do not point towards an increase in crimes against women. There may be more registered reports in the rural sector which is encouraging. Not only are women contending against the men they are also empowering themselves.

Pune, being an educated, cosmopolitan city of the state, has identified the seriousness of the issue. Thus reporting this may just be the sign of a more responsible society.

Picture: google.com/images

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