Crisis of Femininity
India, Jan. 5 -- The sustained national outcry over an unspeakable sexual assault has put the spotlight not only on crimes against women, but also exposed the underlying patriarchy that is holding India back. The crisis of femininity and masculinity has never been more apparent. How do we heal? How? All aspects of society - from the state to popular culture and education - need to introspect and act. Every woman needs and deserves a better life
*How should the State respond?
Curb entry of criminals into politics: Members of political parties with criminal charges against them should not be allowed to contest elections. Six sitting MLAs face rape charges and two MPs have been charged with sexual assault. Another 36 politicians also face charges.
Moral charters for political parties: There is a need for a normative charter of moral behaviour for parties.
Passing key legislations: Key bills are left hanging in Parliament. The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2012 is crucial as it seeks to make rape gender neutral by widening its definition. The bill also defines acid attacks with separate punishment.
Also, under current and proposed laws, marital rape is not defined and falls under the domestic violence act as cruelty.
Define stalking: Stalking was dropped from the Criminal Laws bill. There is no law or punishment to deal with it.
Sexual assault does not need intent: Anything short of rape is considered bailable under section 354 CrPC. This is antiquated and needs amendment. A major flaw is that it looks at intent of sexual assault - whether aimed at outraging modesty of a woman or not.
Sexism of public officials: Public officials who make sexist comments - about attire or behaviour of women - should be taken to task. Although the penal code protects women through the Indecent Representation of Women Act, the law needs amendment for strong punitive mechanisms.
*How should judicial process be swifter?
Modernising courts: Technology in courts needs drastic improvement to speed up the judicial process. Indian courts should have video recording of witness statements and testimonies with automatic transcription machines.
Indian judges can currently dictate upto 25 pages of an order in a day while American judges can go through at least 300 pages.
"There is nothing wrong with the law. It just moves at bullock cart speeds," says senior advocate KTS Tulsi. He adds, "It's ironic that an IT superpower like India cannot even provide better technology to enhance the criminal justice system."
Speedier processes: The real need is permanent fast-track courts on the basis of a regular structure (not in an ad-hoc manner on the basis of a social outcry). Fast-track courts were earlier set up in 2001 but the Centre refused to finance them beyond March 2011.
The courts also need to ensure day to day trials in such cases.
*How should policing improve?
Increasing strength: Over five lakh posts lie vacant against the sanctioned 20 lakh all over India. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) puts the number of policemen at 81-131 per 100,000 across states, compared to the required 174.
Separate VIP duties: 7% of the Delhi police is dedicated to VIP duties. Besides those, nearly half the force is used in doing odd jobs.
Increasing female force: 7% of the Delhi police is female and most are on the desk, leaving few in the field. The home minister ordered recruiting female cops in each Delhi police station, a step required across country.
Sensitisation: Citing the Zee news interview of the victim's friend who revealed how three PCR vans wasted time instead of helping, BN Chattoraj, a criminology expert says, "Not just gender sensitisation but a general sensitisation is also necessary."
Upgradation: The weakest links are the police stations in the country which need drastic changes. Senior advocate KTS Tulsi said that if there were standardised designs for stations with tamper-proof recording of processes, there would be no hostile witness. …