Humiliating questions, insensitive defence lawyers and open courts that do nothing to make a rape victim comfortable.
For a victim who decides to go ahead and fight for justice in the court of law, the trauma of rape has to be lived till the trial is over."The initial trauma of rape has to be relived over and over again at the time of getting the initial statement recorded and thereafter in the cross questioning, which is usually brutal. Even though the courts have said that rape victims' past should not be brought up to justify the rape, defence lawyers use it regularly to malign the victim," said Nilanju Dutta, a lawyer who works with the Violence Intervention Team at NGO Jagori.
While the initial statement of the victim can be recorded on tape, if requested, cross questioning has to be done face to face.
"Detailed analysis of every point has to be done in the court of law as a person has to be proved guilty beyond all doubt. The trial is closed and only the people concerned with the case are allowed in the courtroom. What is important is that the line of questioning and the manner in which questions are asked is appropriate. A proactive judge is very important to ensure that the defence lawyer does not harass the victim as the ordeal of the girl does not end with the rape. It continues from the time the act is committed right through to filing the complaint and the trial," said Monica Arora, a leading advocate practicing in the Supreme Court.
According to Arora, the victim need not face the accused during the trial at all. "All these provisions exist and the victim and her counsel should demand it if they want," she said.
Most people who are aware of the trauma of trial say that fast track courts are the best thing to lessen the suffering of the ordeal. "Waiting for months or years to even get a single hearing leaves the victims disillusioned and if the case goes on for years, she spends all that time remembering every single detail of the attack. Fast-track courts can shorten the time period of the ongoing tribulation," Dutta added.Another solution would be to make courtrooms more victim-friendly like it has been done for children appearing in court in Karkardooma Court Complex. There a model court room would have a one-way mirror so that the child cannot see the accused during cross questioning and answer fearlessly.