Barriers to Justice (IN.Reuters.com)
- Hostile police
- Unsympathetic forensic examinations
- Lack of counseling
- Shoddy police investigations
- Inadequate courts
Multiple sources accuse the law enforcement in India of being insensitive to women. Some community leaders join police in blaming victims for encouraging sexual attacks.
Outside of New Delhi, India does not have places that offer medical or psychological support for victims. Abhorrent physical exams further violate women.
"The collection, transport and storage of forensic evidence by police - a key component in rape cases - is also often poorly conducted, resulting in weak prosecutions, few convictions and lenient jail terms for convicted offenders" (IN.Reuters.com). A study in August 2012, indicated that over half of all acquittals were caused by inadequate police work (IN.Reuters.com). It is no wonder that many sexual assaults go unreported to police.
There are simply too few courts in India, leading to huge backlogs. Cases frequently take 5 to 10 years to be adjudicated. Victims and witnesses may be intimidated during that period. In some cases, families are persuaded to make their daughter marry the accused to avoid the "shame" associated with being a rape victim.
Indian society is not alone in these offenses and attitudes against women.
A parliamentary commission asked Daming Sanusi, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court, what he thought about applying the death penalty in cases of rape. His inflammatory response: "Consideration needs to be taken thoroughly for the imposition of death penalty for a rapist because in a rape case both the rapist and the victim enjoy it" (CNN.com).
After being confronted with outrage over his statement, Sanusi apologized by saying that he had been nervous and had made a joke. "The controversy that sprung up around Daming mirrors outrage in the United States over remarks about rape made by Republicans Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin" (CNN.com).
Recently, social media has focused on videos, photos, and tweets about a 16-year-old female being sexually assaulted by football players from Steubenville High School in Ohio. Beyond the terrible attack is the apparent inhumane responses of nearly 50 witnesses to the event who recorded, discussed, and joked about the barbaric incident as if it were a sporting event (Toldedoblade.com).
A petition initiated by the women's rights group Ultraviolet is asking Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and special prosecutors "to prosecute anyone on the scene who took pictures, destroyed evidence, or otherwise failed to help the victim as well as the alleged rapists" (Socialtimes.com).
Those of us in the U.S. must not look down at our world neighbors in India when we read about a woman gang-raped on a bus, leaving her with brain and intestinal injuries that would take her life. We must reach out to them to help remove barriers to justice for rape victims everywhere.
- Bhalla, Nita, "Analysis: How India's Police and Judiciary Fail Rape Victims," IN.Reuters.com, 1-16-2013.
- Glenn, Devon, "Activists Demand Justice for Rape Victim Whose Ordeal was Posted to Social Media," Socialtimes.com, 1-4-2013.
- Mandhana, Niharika and Anjani Trivedi, "Indians Outraged Over Rape on Moving Bus in New Delhi," NYTimes.com, 12-18-2012.
- Mullen, Jethro, "Indonesian Judge in Hot Water for Suggesting Rape Victims Enjoy It," CNN.com, 1-16-2013.
- Pitz, Marylynne, "Crowd Demands Justice for Steubenville Rape Victim," Toledoblade.com, Block News Alliance, 1-7-2013.
- Timmons, Heather and Sruthi Gottipati, "Woman Dies After a Gang Rape That Galvanized India," NYTimes.com, 12-28-2012.