September 29, 2022

Jay Kumar Gupta

The author is a first-year student at NMIMS SCHOOL OF LAW, BENGALURU.

Wikimedia Commons

Introduction

To achieve gender equality and sustainable development goals, all kinds of violence against women and girls must be eliminated.

Who doesn’t want his city to be free from every kind of crimes? Everyone wants. Even in 21st century, parents are always in fear to send their children specially the girl child at night. It should be the question why specifically night only. What is there in the night that it always absorbs the parents and every person in a sense of any unknown or known fear. Everyone knows the answer.

It is the prime duty of the citizens to make their place a safer one. But “In the age of knowledge, ignorance is the choice.”[1]

Now the question would be ignorance regarding what? Ignorance for not speaking and raising your voice when it’s needed the most, Ignorance for ignoring the things upon which you have to act the first, Ignorance for not finding the solutions of the most important issues, ignorance for not waking up the concerned authorities for the issues which is like a snake swirling around your neck.

To break this ignorance and to achieve the vision of our Father of Nation Shri Mahatma Gandhi where he says,” The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night that day we can say India has achieved independence.”[2], I have done detailed research on how to prevent sexual assault cases in my city, Jamshedpur. I worked on various problems and also tried to find out some of the best solutions for it by approaching the victims of the sexual assaults. I genuinely asked all the victims of the sexual assault and also taken the views of a considerable quantum of people in my locality about what they think that would be the flaws there and what they feel would be the solutions for the same. It was one of the most challenging tasks to take the confidence of the victims of the sexual assault as they generally don’t free themselves up while talking to the strangers. This issue I have explained in the later part of my report also. The goal of this study was to look into women’s experiences about the incidents which they had gone through and the aftermath of it like how smoothly and efficiently was the course of their justice.

I found alcoholism, patriarchal mindset, bystanders’ approach, bad attitude and lack of efficiency by the police in handling the cases, absence of CCTVs, dim street lights, economic factors of the culprits etc as the major contributors to the sexual assaults in my locality.

OBSERVATIONS

In the report of the Augusta University, it was found that alcohol intake by the perpetrators is common. Further studies tell, Alcohol was ingested by the perpetrator in 81 percent to 97 percent of alcohol-related sexual assaults.[3]

Surprisingly it was found that Alcohol is frequently used by perpetrators to justify sexual assault.

According to conservative estimates of sexual assault prevalence, 25% of American women have been sexually assaulted, including rape. In over half of those incidents, the perpetrator, victim, or both have consumed alcohol.[4] According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, approximately 30% of men aged 15 to 49 in Bihar used alcohol prior to the prohibition. Women in this state experienced significant levels of intimate partner abuse, with 40% of ever-married women aged 15 to 49 reporting physical, sexual, or emotional assault by their husbands in the previous year. Furthermore, whereas roughly 25% of women whose husbands did not drink alcohol suffered domestic violence from their spouses, 75% of women whose husbands got drunk ‘very regularly’ did. It shows how dangerously alcohol is contributing in the cases of the sexual assault.[5]

And, I found alcohol is one of the main reasons for sexual assaults in my locality.

Alcoholism can be defined as the incapability to control drinking because one has developed a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol.[6]

It has become a kind of disease only.

In the unconscious state, a man cannot not figure out what he is doing whether his act is correct or wrong.

In my residential building, a divorced woman remembers some instances from her past. She says, “My husband was alcoholic. We were having two daughters. At the time of marriage, he used to drink alcohol and I was aware of that but I never thought that after 4 years of marriage he will develop an extreme level of alcoholism and will start to beat and physically assault me. One day he was also beating my children with the rod I stopped when I saw him doing so. The level of tolerance just crossed and I demanded divorced and got settled in a different city with my children.”

Alcoholism not only destroys personal and family life but is also a major threat for the woman traveling late at night.

Some meters from my house there is an alcohol shop. Every day people after drinking shouts, fight, and comments sexually to the woman travellers.

A girl shares her experience,” I work in a jewellery shop in kadma. I usually return from my work late at night around 11 PM.

One day when I was returning, some people in the alcoholic state stopped me and started commenting sexual and vulgar things. I ran away from there.”

I get to know about one more incident but it was eavesdropping about acquaintance rape. There was a huge party organized by some friends and they invited one of their girlfriends also. The boys drank heavy alcohol and raped the girl.

The best solution to overcome this is to ban alcohol. Someone may say it’s impossible. But it’s possible like Bihar and many other states already have done it or we can just switch to the healthier alcohol which doesn’t have such harmful impacts.

The 2019 surveys support the argument that after the alcohol ban, the cases of sexual assault marginally declined in the state of Bihar and notably in the state capital Patna.[7]

In the above figures it can be clearly seen, that after the alcohol ban in 2016, the number of crimes against women notably decreased in the state of Bihar and its state capital Patna.

We can also put pressure on the authorities to make a law were setting up alcohol shops in the 4 km radius of any residential area should be banned.

We can also establish a police station or increase the patrolling in such areas where liquor is being sold.

The central and state government can also run various awareness campaigns to prevent underage drinking and to educate young people about alcohol abuse and addiction. The government already running NIX18 and BOB campaign to prevent the children consuming alcohol until they attain the age of 18.[11] There is also a need of school-based awareness regarding the harmful impacts of the alcohol. A school boy who molested a girl says, “alcohol loosened me up and that circumstance was happened by accident. I would never have passed that threshold if no alcohol had been drinking.”

For the better and safer society, the boycott of alcohol is needed.

Women in my locality also meets the mind with me on this aspect.

A woman in my locality says,” My sister was falsely touched by a man when se he gone to buy vegetables. When she resisted, she got to know he was drunk.”

Another woman shares her experience and says,” Once during the winter, I along with my friends was sitting near our building when a intoxicated man came and started staring us. Then started telling abusing things.”

Conclusively, it can be said prohibition of alcohol is the need of the hour.

Most of the victims are generally housewives living in a patriarchal mindset.

They don’t free themselves.

They think if they speak up then their husbands can divorce them, society may betray them, her family members would not support them.

So, most of the crimes always go unreported.

It is really a very difficult problem as if offenses will not get reported then how one will be able to work on effective solutions.

We can establish psychology centres.

Specifically, train investigating authorities not to blame rape victims for the violence perpetrated against them.

The awareness should be spread and victims cantered services should be provided so that survivors/victims could come up freely with their problems.

Another thing which I have noticed is that in certain cases bystanders were just silent despite knowing about the offenses or offenses happening just in front of them. Now the question may be asked that who are bystanders?

Individuals who observe violence or see the conditions that cause violence are named as bystanders. They aren’t directly engaged, but they have the option to intervene, speak out, or take action. They are someone who is there and hence has the capacity to discourage, prevent or interrupt an accident.[12]

In one of the conversations with the people, I got to know about a decade long case where a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped outside her house in somewhere around January 2011, in front of almost a dozen bystanders. No one acted, despite the fact that several of these spectators had mobile phones and were recording footage. What caused this to happen? Why did none of her friends speak out against this sexual assault? These inactions of the bystanders can lead to “bystanders’ effect.”

Such attitudes of the bystanders strengthen the motive of the culprits to do such acts again and again.

In my research, I found in 65 percent cases, the bystanders had the chance to act and to prevent the sexual crimes from happening but they didn’t.

One of the victims of the sexual assault told,” I was on my evening walk when a group of people started commenting sexual things upon me. Many people were present there at that time but they were just watching that incident and not showing any attitude to help me.”

So, we should promote social norms which would protect against violence and also help in changing the approaches of the bystanders.

Bystander intervention can also effective to prevent sexual assaults.

The act of feeling empowered and equipped with the information and abilities to effectively aid in the prevention of sexual violence is known as bystander intervention. Bystander intervention can assist students and young adults to gain skills to become active bystanders through education and empowerment. Adults can play an important role in fostering positive bystander behaviour and initiating bystander intervention discussions among youth and young adults.

It will excite men and women to help victims in such situations.

Social-emotional learning could play a crucial role. Some awareness programs are running in foreign countries like “Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)”,” The Red Flag Campaign”, “Bringing the Bystanders” [13]to develop the ability to act when they see any sexual assaults. And such awareness programmes shown a very effective and important strategies to prevent sexual assaults.

The concerned authorities in India can also work on the implementation of such awareness programmes or can fund the NGOs for doing the same.

According to government figures, 99 percent of sexual assaults go undetected and unreported. It leads to the lack of correct and genuine data to work upon.

The research done by mints shows, an estimated 99.1% of sexual abuse crimes go unreported, and the offender in the majority of these cases is the victim’s husband. According to the study, the average Indian woman is 17 times more likely than other women to experience sexual assault from her husband.[14]

So, women generally don’t go against their husband in most of the cases.

I got to know about a case which happened approximately five years ago where a woman was continuously physically assaulted and beaten by her husband.

Her husband often made physical relations with her without her permission. After all such incidents, the woman could not gather the strength to report to the police. It came into light when her neighbour reported about such incidents to any NGO.

According to my study, 1 out of 8 victims only reported their complaint to the police.

UNDER REPORTING RATES (NFHS & NCRB DATA)                  IN %
Under reporting in sexual violence (excluding marital rape/assault)                 85.2
Under reporting in sexual violence (including marital rape/assault)                 99.1
Under reporting in overall violence faced by the women                 99.2

                                                                                           *Per million female population[15]

Also, as per my field research, one of the main reasons for the non-reporting of the incidents, I found, is the bad attitude and lack of efficiency by the police.

No coordination is there among them which results in the low conviction rates of the culprits involved in such incidents.

One of the victims told me,” I was molested by the son of the ASI. When I went to register my complaint at the police station, they refused to entertain my FIR. They talked with me rudely. They also took my signature on a paper where it was written that police cooperated with me. Then I went to SP city but in vain. I wrote to various authorities but could not find any solution.”

Another victim shared her complaint,” One of my known relatives tried to make physical relations with me when I refused, he threatened me. I told about this incident to my husband. We both went to the police station to register our complaint. They wrote our FIR.

But their investigation was very slow. After 3 months they didn’t even make the statement of the culprit. They broke all the communications with us. When we call them, most of the time they didn’t pick up. Whenever they picked our call, they only tried to deviate from the topic. No assurance was given that we will get justice.”

So, the police are holding a very negative image in the lives of the common men especially below middle class and middle class.

We have to regenerate the image and respect of the police department in my city.

It can be done by adding some representatives from the NGO or any social group in the investigation. Legal awareness among the investigating officers is also a major concern to take into. Most of them don’t even know the difference between “kidnap” and “missing”.

It’s very surprising that they have already trained with various laws involving IPC and CrPC but are so ignorant about the laws.

Also, it is found by me that most of the culprits have very strong social and political sources.

To monitor such things, courts have to see if the political and social influences don’t affect the deliverance of justice to the victim.

In the age of the technology when everything becomes so easy. And CCTVs is one of the most important tools to fight against the sexual offences.

According to my study, no CCTVs cameras were present at the time of sexual assault incidents. There were some CCTVs installed near apartments and big shops but their range and quality were so low that it was not captured or one cannot figure out the culprit out of it.

The absence of CCTVs also plays a crucial role in favouring such crimes of sexual assault.

Many residents and even the concerned authorities are of the view that CCTVs are the need of the hour.

According to the residents, the government made many promises for the installation of the CCTVs but hardly one has been installed yet.

One of an aware residents told me, “In 2012, the state government told us that they will create database of cases and type of crime against women but nothing happened as of now. There was a promise for installation of the CCTVs in the isolated places for the safety of women but this promise lost somewhere in the ocean of false promises given by them.”

Further, a member of a NGO told, “We do not know even police know about such technologies.”

Victims of sexual assault and even the investigating officers are saying that if CCTVs would be there then lots of cases of sexual assault wouldn’t be there.

Police will find it very easy to catch the culprits.

Even there will be a sense of fear among the culprits of the sexual assaults.

And collectively we will be able to curb the cases of sexual assaults.

Moreover, CCTVs can also be installed in the house in order to reduce domestic violence against women. Sexual Harassment at workplaces is one of the most serious issues which also can be controlled significantly if legislature will make a law for the mandatory installation of the CCTVs cameras at work places.

Forbes India report says Delhi ranks first with 1826.6 CCTVs cameras per miles followed by Chennai and Mumbai.[16] We need such infrastructures for CCTVs cameras in almost every city in the country and even in the villages also.

Molestation and eve-teasing cases dropped significantly by 70-80% in the jurisdiction of Nehru Nagar, Kurla when CCTVs cameras were installed in that area. Hence, installation of CCTVs is the need of the hour.[17]

Light is that the only thing that have the power remove darkness. But what happens when the life saving light will be overpowered by the dim lights of the street lights?

In my investigation, I found that in many places there is no street lights or defective street lights or the light coming from the street light were very dim or very less in range i.e., not covering the vast area. Specially in the areas of the adityapur, the outskirts of the Jamshedpur, in the route to Golmouri from Sakchi etc where such problems exist.

In a recent survey done in UK, it had been found Previous research into the results of enhanced street lighting on road traffic injury found some evidence of improved road safety [rate ratio (RR) 0.78, 95 percent confidence interval (CI) 0.63 to 0.97].[18]

Victims don’t able to see the culprits. Most of the victims falling in such areas have not able to figure out who was the culprit which also acts as an obstacle for the investigating team to find out the real culprits.

Central and State Government should fix these problems and replace age old street lights with the modern one. The citizens also should raise this issue to their respective MLAs and MPs.

It isn’t hidden from anybody that this covid 19 has taken lots of people’s employment. According to an estimation, almost 85-115 million people become jobless in these times.[19] But can we blame covid 19 solely for it? No, the unemployment rate of covid 19 was also not good pre covid times also.

In India, a lack of jobs has forced many individuals into illegal activities, with jobless rates rising from 7% prior to the shutdown to 27.11 percent in April of last year.[20]

Even I found same circumstances in most of the sexual assault cases in my area also. Most of the perpetrators have very bad economic conditions and most of are unemployed or working in a very minimal pay.

If they don’t have to do nothing then they choose the path of the crimes.

Out of 9 cases,3 was done by the people whose economic conditions were not good and didn’t have any work to do.

The government should take steps on educating the youth, providing career-based guidance, skill-based training to uplift people for the work.

And to provide more and more job opportunities should be the first priority of the government. For the immediate solution, Government may fill the vacant posts in various departments of the government. According to some surveys, a large number of posts are lying vacant. These should be filled on priority.

Conclusion:

There is a strong and immediate need to take correct and effective steps to curb the growing number of sexual assaults. It can be seen that how alcoholism, patriarchal mindset, victim blaming norms, bystanders’ approach, absence of CCTVs cameras, dim street lights and unemployment can lead to sexual assaults. Working on an effective and long-lasting solutions is the need of the hour. Citizens should come forward and raise these issues so that the concerned authorities can take steps regarding it. There is no absolute and panacea to stop sexual assaults. It just helps us to ponder how we can save ourselves from such heinous crimes.” It’s better to be safe than sorry”-Every Mother.[21]


[1] https://www.transparencymauritius.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/UPD-FOIA-SPEECH.pdf

[2] https://globaljournals.org/item/5481-the-day-a-woman-can-walk-freely-on-the-roads-that-day-we-can-say-that-india-achieved-independence-lessons-to-be-learned-from-mahatma-gandhis-saying

[3] https://www.augusta.edu/prevention/documents/understanding-sexual-assault.pdf

[4] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-1/43-51.htm

[5] https://www.svri.org/blog/has-alcohol-prohibition-in-bihar-india-resulted-in-less-vaw

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholism

[7] https://www.svri.org/blog/has-alcohol-prohibition-in-bihar-india-resulted-in-less-vaw

[8] https://www.svri.org/blog/has-alcohol-prohibition-in-bihar-india-resulted-in-less-vaw

[9] https://www.svri.org/blog/has-alcohol-prohibition-in-bihar-india-resulted-in-less-vaw

[10] https://www.svri.org/blog/has-alcohol-prohibition-in-bihar-india-resulted-in-less-vaw

[11] https://www.government.nl/topics/alcohol/preventing-alcohol-abuse-and-alcoholism

[12] https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/2018-02/publications_nsvrc_tip-sheet_bystander-intervention-tips-and-strategies_1.pdf

[13] https://www.wcsap.org/resources/publications/tips-guides/prevention/bystander-approach#:~:text=The%20bystander%20approach%20is%20a,dangerous%20situations%20or%20sexist%20language.

[14] https://www.livemint.com/Politics/AV3sIKoEBAGZozALMX8THK/99-cases-of-sexual-assaults-go-unreported-govt-data-shows.html

[15] https://www.livemint.com/Politics/AV3sIKoEBAGZozALMX8THK/99-cases-of-sexual-assaults-go-unreported-govt-data-shows.html

[16] https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/delhi-cctvs-more-than-shanghai-new-york-london-arvind-kejriwal-729172#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20report%20by,second%20position%20with%201%2C138.5%20cameras.

[17] https://www.ndtv.com/mumbai-news/cctvs-help-control-crime-against-women-and-minors-in-kurla-441970

[18] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23808822_Street_lighting_for_preventing_road_traffic_injuries

[19] https://www.ilo.org/asia/media-centre/news/WCMS_763819/lang–en/index.htm

[20] https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/pandemic-induced-unemployment-india-criminal-activities-rise/

[21] https://billkingblog.com/quote-of-the-week-better-safe-than-sorry/

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