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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014
No fighting chance
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 14, 2012
First Published: 21:25 IST(14/10/2012)
Last Updated: 21:26 IST(14/10/2012)

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has come up with a rather tangential way of dealing with would-be rapists and molesters. It has asked that the Direc-torate of Civil Defence in Haryana, where rape cases are taking place almost everyday, to ensure that there is a mass drive to teach women self-defence. Now, it is no one's contention that women should not learn self-defence but that is hardly likely to protect them in the event of an assault. The assailants normally do not act alone, they come in groups as we have seen in recent times, and could well be armed. In which event, there is not much that a woman, even trained in self-defence, can do to protect herself. To make matters worse, we have people like the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee member Dharamvir Goyat stating unequivocally that the majority of the state's rapes were consensual. Instead of reading him the riot act, the Congress has distanced itself from him saying these are his personal views. The National Commission for Women (NCW) which should have been tearing a strip off the Haryana government for its spectacular inaction has confined itself to a few words of condemnation.

The fact that some of the offenders actually photographed the heinous act so as to circulate it shows that they have absolutely no fear that the law will catch up with them. Even if it does, they seem to think that they will either get off scot-free or very lightly. So, it is clear that only stringent punishment and the certainty of it will diminish the zeal with which hooligans commit such crimes. Of course, we know that a change in societal mindset is the lasting answer.

The first thing that needs to be done is to ensure that the forensic evidence of this crime is recorded within 24 hours. For this, the victim has to be certain that she will be treated with dignity by the police. The next is that she is not made to relive her trauma in court to the extent possible. And hare-brained notions that the rapist can offer to marry the victim should be abandoned once and for all. The victim must be afforded protection and must be secure that her tormentors will not get away with their crimes. Here the NCW should really take the lead in holding state governments accountable. This is too serious an issue for women to counter on their own with a few martial arts moves.


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