Monday, August 12, 2013

Stigma kills rape cases, city police say




 

WOMEN UNDER ATTACK


Activists Blame Shoddy Probe For Low Conviction

 

Mateen Hafeez & Madhavi Rajadhyaksha TNN

    Only one in five people accused of rape in Mumbai is convicted for the crime, a Right to Information application has revealed. The query was for patterns in the crime in the city over the last 10 years.
 
    The city’s conviction rate of 22% pales in comparison with Delhi’s 49%. The two cities are known to have the highest incidence of reported rape in urban India.  The RTI application, filed by activist Mansoor Umer Darvesh, revealed that 1,631 girls were raped in Mumbai between 2003 and 2012. While the police arrested 2,072 people, only 346 were punished. The crime can attract life imprisonment, but the maximum punishment given was a 15-year jail sentence—to a police constable. The man, Chandrakant Pawar, was acquitted by the high court in 2011. 

    The Malwani police station recorded the highest number of rape cases, 54, over a decade. The police station covers a population of 5.1 lakh and the area houses one of the city’s largest slum sprawls. But the Malwani police could secure conviction in only seven cases. 
 
    The severest punishment was seven years in jail and the lightest two years. The Sakinaka police station, which recorded the second highest number of rape cases, 51, fared no better, with only eight convictions.
    Vile Parle is the only police station that bucked the trend, recording 100% conviction. It registered 28 rape cases in the period studied and secured conviction for an equal number of offenders.
 
    The police say that in most of the cases, the accused is known to the victim. “We take utmost care and even appoint women cops to help victims make a watertight case. But the accused is often a neighbour, family member, friend or acquaintance; they try for reconciliation. Also, victims’ families often prefer to not pursue cases due to stigma, which results in a low conviction rate,” said a senior police officer.
 
    But Sandhya Gokhale of the Forum Against Oppression of Women blamed the lack of will among the police for the poor conviction rate. “Investigations are often shoddy and the police don’t pick up offenders for a day after the crime. Tampering of evidence can happen at any stage,” she said.
 
    Conviction also depends on ancillary care for victims and the availability of forensic experts to gather evidence. In reality, victims are often put through multiple medical examinations in several hospitals—often a humiliating experience. 
 
 KEY RTI FINDINGS An RTI query on rape in Mumbai for 10 years from the start of 2003
has revealed varied conviction
patterns across police stations:
 
    The Kurar police registered 26 rape cases, arrested 27 people, and secured conviction for eight. A prominent case was of Kishen Surajmal Gahlot (42), who in 2003 raped his 16-year-old daughter. He was given life imprisonment in 2011
 
    The Mahim police in 2009 registered two rape cases: in one, the accused was acquitted, while in the other the police filed an A-summary report
 
The Jogeshwari police registered six rape cases, but could not secure a single conviction. Trials are still on
 
The Bandra police refused to give information citing a section of the RTI Act
 
In a rape case with the Navghar police, one of the accused was given life imprisonment, while a minor was released with a fine of Rs 5,000 
 
 STATUS OF HIGH-PROFILE CASES

TISS CASE INCIDENT | Six men were accused of gang-raping a 23-year-old US national studying at TISS on April 12, 2009 in a suburban house VERDICT | The Sewri fasttrack court acquitted all six on October 6, 2010. Judge S D Jagmalani held that the prosecution had been unable to establish its case beyond reasonable doubt APPEAL | The Bombay high court dismissed on June 29, 2011 the state’s challenge to the acquittal at the admission stage


ABHISHEK KASLIWAL CASE INCIDENT | Shree Ram Mills scion Abhishek Kasliwal was accused of raping a 52-yearold woman on the night of March 11-12, 2006 VERDICT | He was acquitted by a sessions court in 2011 APPEAL | The state did not appeal


SHINEY AHUJA CASE INCIDENT | In June 2009, actor Shiney Ahuja was accused of raping his 20-year-old domestic help VERDICT | In March 2011, a sessions court sentenced him to seven years’ RI, despite the victim turning hostile during trial APPEAL | Shiney’s appeal is pending before the Bombay high court


The Times of India, August 12, 2013

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