Inside Uttar Pradesh Station, Woman Raped by Four Policemen

silent_protest_at_india_gate.jpg

Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 02:50 a.m. DST, 14 June 2014

"Policeman facing women in a protest march, Calcutta Kolkata India" Photo by: Jorge RoyanUTTAR PRADESH, India -- This past week has been a treacherous time for the safety of women living in the most populous state in India, Uttar Pradesh. The most unthinkable of these events occurred late Monday night, 9 June 2014, inside a police station in Hamirpur district.

When a woman entered the police outpost after dusk, she intended to leave with her husband. After explaining her connection to the detained man and asking for his release, the officers told the woman she would need to pay a bribe in order to see him freed. When she refused, four policemen proceeded to rape her inside of the police facility.

The highest ranking police officer has been detained, and authorities are now searching for three additional security officers still on the loose.

Several similar tragedies have occurred throughout the various rural villages that form the state of Uttar Pradesh. On Thursday, 12 June, a 19-year-old woman was hanged by a mob of men in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. This episode followed the rape and hanging of two teenage sisters in the early morning hours of 29 May, and another similar incident on Wednesday, 11 June, in the Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. In this horrific crime, a 45-year-old Indian was raped and hanged below a tree.

Therefore, since the 29 May attack, four women have been killed by the brutalities of mob sexual assault in Uttar Pradesh alone. Many are claiming that the prevalence of these attacks are nothing new, only that the reporting and discussion of such crimes are increasing.

In many Indian states, rape goes under-reported because of a stigma against the victims of sexual assault. As the number of formal charges against perpetrators rises, so too does the awareness of the problem.

The aforementioned rape and hanging of two teenage sisters generated international outrage as reports emerged, both with regard to the atrocious act as well as the failure of police to investigate initial reports that a group of men had been seen accosting the young women. The indignation of Indian and international advocates was emphatic, but did little to discourage future cruelties of the same nature.

A final note. On Thursday, June 12, two preteen girls were raped by a group of men inside a hostel in Tamil Nadu state. The hostel is affiliated with a local church, but the offenders had no apparent connection to the congregation. An undoubtedly monstrous act, the attackers held the two girls at knife point while proceeding to violate them.

While the incident in Tamil Nadu took place on the opposite side of the country when taken in conjunction with the crimes throughout Uttar Pradesh state, the faraway communities seem in closer proximity because of these paralleled events.

The first step in addressing the brutality towards women is creating an environment where women feel safe to disclose the crimes committed against them. This process is already underway, and the people of India have protested in favor of increased legislation, and seen positive results. Safeguards against such terrible acts have increased since 2012.

But when policemen are perpetrators in the crime, as in the Hamirpur case, or when officers are complicit in murder, such as the double hanging in May, the shortcomings of these individuals signal a step backward for the movement as a whole.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

India Enacts Tougher New Anti-Rape Laws

indian-flag-over-the-bangalore-vidhana-soudha.jpg

Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 18:25 p.m. DST, 29 March 2013

India's Aam Aadmi Party Protest Rape EpidemicINDIA - In response to the 2012 Delhi rape gang case, the government in India set up a panel called the Justice Verma Committee headed by a retired judge to recommend legal reform and other ways to reduce sexual violence, reports BBC.

A bill containing harsher punishments for violence against women passed in early March, and Karuna Nundy, a leading Indian Supreme Court lawyer, explained to BBC how the laws work.

Nundy says that the new laws consist of a combination of thinking about gender and existing patriarchal attitudes, and those ingrained in the colonial Indian Penal Code of 1860.

The bill defined several actions as crimes: stalking, intimidating, murder, acid violence, disrobing, and voyeurism. Additionally, the bill clarifies that in rape; the absence of a physical struggle does not indicate that the actions were consensual.

One of the major reasons why crimes against women aren’t reported is because police would refuse to register the complaints, says Nundy. The bill would give compulsory jail time to those who fail to register complaints.

Healthcare providers must provide survivors of sexual violence or acid attacks free and immediate medical care.

There are increased jail terms and the potentiality for the death penalty in a repeat offense or rape that causes coma. If evidence demonstrates that the death penalty is not a deterrent for committing crimes as Nundy claims, then what is the alternative punishment?

Nundy is further concerned with the lack of expansion of the criminal justice system. Speedy trials are supposed to be the best in prosecuting crimes against women, Nundy says, and it is unclear how fast these trials will be. Offenders may attempt to drag on the trial process for a long time, which would cause the victim much hardship. Additionally, Nundy says “there’s also a concern that if sentences are thought of as too harsh by judges, the already high acquittal rate in cases of sexual violence will rise further.”

Under this bill, consensual intercourse between teenagers aged 16-18 is considered rape. The boy involved can be sentenced to up to three-years in prison, and labeled as a rapist.

The new laws fail to protect men and transgender from rape. The cultural attitudes in India can help explain this failure to protect transgender.

According to the Taipei Times and the Global Post, transgender face heavy discrimination. The Taipei Times reports that homosexuality is accepted, however, straying from cultural perceptions of femininity or masculinity leads to prosecution. The transgender communities in India, known as hjaris, have been prevented from obtaining decent education and jobs and housing, reports the Global Post.

Marital rape is still legal. According to the India RealTime, in Indian culture, the husband has the right to intercourse whenever he pleases. Activists have called for laws that would allow women to press charges against their husbands, but this has yet to be addressed.

Armed forces in “disturbed areas” are still effectively immune from the prosecution of rape and sexual assault. The Hindustan Times reports that in many instances, an offender from the armed forces will try to take their trial to civilian courts because the trial can take years. In contrast, in military courts, prosecution can come swiftly and the punishment can be much more severe.

Though the laws fail to address several important areas, the laws represent an important step in the change in laws and attitudes in India.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki