The current anti-rape agitation that is taking place all over the country is centered at New Delhi and is the direct result of the anonymous victim of the infamous gang-rape on the moving bus in the Capital.
While the movement is nebulous and organic and hasn't given a list of fixed demands to the government, there are certain demands that are coming across...
1. Accept that the system has failed: Why are the politicians in denial? This is where everyone has failed. This is where the whole system has failed. Only if you accept that, then you can begin from scratch. At the end of the day, the people cannot make the laws and that is only something can be done by Parliament.
What stops the Prime Minister from calling a special session of Parliament to discuss the whole issue threadbare? We need a white paper on this and everything has to be discussed from security to police action to the procedure in courts.
2. Beef up security: Instead of asking women not to get out at night, the security has to be beefed up. There have to be more patrols and more seriousness from the part of the police force. Making certain services continue till late in the night may prevent key areas from being isolated and safer for women who venture out at night.
3. Sensitize the police force: Most police stations do not take rapes seriously. They dissuade rape victims from filing FIRs and sometimes themselves harass the victim. The crying need of the day is for the police force to be sensitized. Since the Delhi Police comes under the central Home Ministry, this is one area where the Prime Minister can take direct action and it can be a model plan for the rest of the police force in the country.
4. Institute fast-track trials: While all justice should be speedy, a special case has to be made out of rape victims by virtue of the sheer trauma they face. There is also harassment in terms of giving testimony to a hostile police force and later brutal cross-examination by lawyers in court. Can a special case be made and one-time video testimony be taken to spare the victim of the trauma of recounting it again and again? All these things have to be explored.
5. Stronger laws: It's not just rape. The victim is assaulted, her modesty is outraged and something like gang-rape is akin to murder. The charges being filed should be more stringent in nature and bail should also be denied to the rapists. The concept of “rarest of rare” should be removed and rapists should get at least 20 years in jail. In gang-rape cases like the current one which has ignited the nation, nothing short of a death penalty will do.
6. Action against tainted politicians: What are hundreds and hundreds of MPs and MLAs doing sitting in Parliament and Assemblies with impunity? We have been hearing about electoral reforms for ages, but where are they? Some film stars turned MPs have cases of obscenities in movies against them while others were charge sheeted for political protests. They can be exempted, since it's a controversial issue. But candidates who have rape and murder charges against them should straightforward be debarred.
7. Change in attitudes of the society: This is the toughest of all, but a beginning has already been made. People are protesting in the streets and the debate has already begun in the society. Eve teasing has to be taken more seriously. We also have to accept that we are now living in the 21st century and what women wear, when and where they go is actually their fundamental right.
We have to boycott politicians, officials and elders making stupid statements against women.
8. Respect: This agitation demands respect. This is a natural outpouring of rage and frustration coming from the entire nation. This is not political. The lumpen elements are a microscopic minority. This is a people's movement. This is a citizen's movement. This is a movement of the common woman and man.
And yet, the Government just doesn't get it. Shutting down metro stations, barricading India Gate and imposing Section 144 is a highly insensitive move.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/