Peoples Health Organisation demand strong rape laws

The current spate of sex assaults-rape cases involving children, minors all over the country are deplorable, particularly because they involve people in authority and power. As a country we react in a knee-jerk fashion and lie cool after initial out-cry settles. After ‘Nirbhaya’ case there are impressive developments to amend rape-laws; however several fronts have been left untouched

Peoples Health Organisation demands strong rape laws
Image used for representational purposes only

Peoples Health Organisation has been involved in the prevention and control of oppression of women, child sexual abuse and child prostitution ever since it was established in 1982 as Indian Health Organisation.

It has been responsible for inclusion of issues related to prevention and control of Child Prostitution in United Nations’ Forward Looking strategies on women in 1985.

Based on decades of experience, PHO has some suggestions regarding the issue of laws related to rape and sexual crimes:

  • In the two cases – at Unnao and in Kathua, unfortunately the police has been either intentionally negligent or wilfully indulgent. In either case, it is a great shame for the law-enforcement machinery.
  • Police needs sensitisation to handle such issues with a sense of urgency, care and diligence.
  • Police often do its best to handle mass-hysteria. Some of their actions could be just knee-jerk responses without looking at long term consequences. Their actions should be well thought of by taking in to consideration all immediate as well as future scenarios in all probabilities.
  • In case of confessions of the culprits to the police, the same should be immediately followed before the concerned magistrates, so that the culprits do not get chance to change their version based on defence tutoring. Law should be appropriately amended and magistrates should be empowered to take ‘confession’ straight on ‘oath’ that could be legally admissible.
  • To protect identity of victims, trials by rule and not exception, should be in-camera. The hearings should be on day-to-day basis with intent to dispose of the cases within stipulated time limit to prevent new reasons to avoid prosecution and to prevent witnesses becoming hostile.
  • Testimony/deposition of the witnesses including cross examination should be prioritised.
  • Punishment should be deterrent – death for death; in case of gang-rapes or rape with minors it should be death; other rape cases minimum sentence should be 15 years with heavy penalty. Repeat offenders should be given sentence of chemical castration, with their consent. Or a choice should be given to them between death/life imprisonment versus chemical castration.
  • The ‘juvenile’ age should be brought to 16 from 18, on the principles used for lowering age for voting from 21 to 18. It is scientifically established that, both boys and girls attain puberty and become sexually active earlier than the previous generations.
  • Establish fast-track courts in every state and each district in all the states to handle sexual crime.
  • All sexual crime cases must be disposed of in time-bound fashion, latest by one year. High Courts should establish their own guidelines for intervening and entertaining appeals.