By Muskan Rawat
Rape crime is a major problem in India, as is evident from the press reports as well as from official statistics. The accused has sometimes gone free because the survivor has not filed a law suit or due to insufficient gathering of evidence, as well as ambiguities in the law. In pre-sent times, Rape is one of the most common and under reported crimes against women in In-dia. It is carried out in different ways and cuts across various social structures. Since the word ‘rape’ was first mentioned in the Indian Penal Code, the way our legal system deals with the crime of rape has changed repeatedly. Etymologically, the word rape derives from the Latin verb rapere, which means “to seize or take by force”. The legal history of rape yields a complex and shifting patchwork of meanings rather than a linear progression of definitions. Under Roman law, rape was classified as a crime of assault.
Women play a key role in strengthening the dynamism of human civilization. In ancient times, Indian women held a high status of reverence in society as mentioned in rig veda and other scriptures. Women were dignified with a respectable status in early Vedic civilization. They were honoured as well as empowered in the affairs of the home and family. They were also honoured by their participation in all the socio-cultural activities of early Indian civilization. But later on because of social, political and economical changes women lost their status and were regulated to the background. The crime against women took an awful turn and till dates the figures are rising rather than falling. National Crime Record Bureau statistics show a 7.1 percent nationwide hike in crimes against women since 2010.
According to statistics, a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes. India was also declared he most dangerous country in the world for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and of being forced into slave labour, according to a 2018 survey by the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
Rape is one of the most heinous crimes. It causes not only physical torture to the body of the women victims but her mental, psychological and emotional traits are also disturbed because a women tends to suffer from a sense of shame for no fault of hers and has to bear the fear of being ostracized by society as well as her relatives, throughout her life. It is the most reprehensible violent incident committed against a woman.
Offence of rape is described in Section 375 of the Penal Code which, inter alia, requires penetration of the perpetrator’s penis to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of the victim or he makes her do so with him or any other person or that he inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person. Rape would also occur if the accused manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person or the accused applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.
These acts must necessarily be against the will of the victim, sans her consent and if her consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt or any of the seven descriptions enumerated in Section 375 IPC. Punishment for rape is given in section 376 of Indian Penal Code. Except in cases, provided in sub section 2 of the same section, punishment will be rigorous imprisonment which is not less than 7 years which may extend to life imprisonment, and fine. In April, 2018, it allows Capital Punishment for anyone convicted of raping children under the age of 12. In 2014, shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, his government also pledged a “zero tolerance” policy on violence against women, promising to “strengthen the criminal justice system.”
In 2018 – An ordinance was passed concerning the child who gets raped. This change was mainly made to POSCO since it was against a child. It made rape of a child below age 16 punishable by a minimum of 20 years imprisonment but provided for the death penalty for the rape of anyone below age 12.So outraging the modesty of a woman” remains a legitimate legal standard, though some new crimes based on a women’s right to bodily integrity and to be free of sexual harassment have also 25 have also been incorporated.
India’s slow, overburdened, and underfunded criminal justice system has exacerbated the plight of rape and sexual assault victims, analysts say. Most rapes go unreported, largely be-cause of cultural stigmas surrounding such incidents that could bring shame to victims and their families. Those who do report cases often face ad ehumanizing experience. A lack of specialized training for police and doctors often drives the problem, reports Human Rights Watch and other rights groups.
Leniency in conviction and sentencing for juvenile offenders has also been cited as a recurring problem in the pursuit of justice for victims.“It’s really a constellation of factors hindering women’s rights, including sex selection, literacy, child marriage, and violence,” says CFR’s Vogelstein. “In addition to that, there’s been a culture of impunity around a lot of these issues. They have laws on the books that address all these issues, yet these problems continue to flourish in many parts of India”.