Purvi Aggarwal is a bibliophile and strongly believes that reading can work miracles. She always strives towards bringing change. Her will to contribute to something productive is what makes her restless. Witnessing the plight of women provokes her to cease it.
Justice to to be served
This decade of the twenty first century has witnessed some dynamic changes from women gearing up in all fields to men stepping up to show enthusiasm in women’s achievements. There is still a long way to go. Women are still lagging behind their male counterparts, sexual harassment is ever rising and ensuring justice takes a very long time. Everyday each one us find such instances of harassment and abuse surfacing in different walks of life.
Some days ago, I heard a few people discussing the verdict of the Nirbhaya case. Though long delayed the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for all four persons convicted. Though Jyoti Singh and her family have finally received justice there are still thousands of cases pending with people who are desperately waiting and others who are denied justice. Recently a report by Times of India stated that more than 4000 cases of sexual harassment against children are pending in the trial courts in Delhi. There are other cases where justice is denied on the pretext that harassment, like stalking for instance, is petty. Cases of rape are dealt with more intensity than those of catcalling.
There are numerous cases in which the perpetrators have escaped unscathed and the victims/survivors do not receive justice. In the case of Aruna Shanbaug, the survivor remained in coma for forty two years while the guilty, after serving two terms of imprisonment of seven years each, is now living freely with his family in Uttar Pradesh. The perpetrator was not even charged for sexual harassment in this case. There are many more instances where sexual harassment has been discounted as petty and not of a threatening nature. In these cases the accused are generally freed after giving them warnings. In more than half such cases the victims are continuously targeted even after filing complaints. One such example is of a gang-rape survivor who had acid thrown on her for the fifth time in spite of complaining and seeking protection of the police. The worst was when the victims are not even given the chance of receiving justice on the pretext of harassment being too nominal to be taken notice of. The question here was what or who determined that some form of harassment is worth seeking justice for and some other is not. This negligence leads to hike in such cases.
These days people have started putting up such issues in public and in private conversations too. People have begun pondering about the law, the bureaucracy and its accountability and practices in dealing with cases of sexual assault and harassment. When issues like catcalling, stalking are ignored by people, police and lawmakers it can ultimately lead to bigger issues of assault. Harassment, no matter in which form, needs to be called out and dealt with judicially to bring it to a stop. The physical and mental trauma and societal dilemma that victims of harassment face cannot be categorised into more or less, severe or moderate. Police need to be more accountable and employ effective techniques of dealing with molesters that actually bear results. Cases related to stalking, catcalling, groping, indecent calls and gestures should never be neglected or down-played. The possible solutions can include surveillance and monitoring of such activities. A point to bring out here is that it is the duty of the victim/survivor, their family or a witness to report such errant behaviour. If the police refuse to file the case, they should go up to higher authorities. Many a times the victims do not have access to resources to seek justice. The government can step in here and create services where public prosecutors can aid such victims. It is each one’s duty to play their part and help in bringing such issues to light. Another reason why people hesitate from filing cases is due to the long and undetermined judicial procedures. This should never became a hindrance in the process of seeking justice. India government has now taken adequate measures to diversify and strengthen the Acts related to sexual harassment. The formation of the National Commission for Women and Ministry of Women and Child Development are also working towards helping women. Government has enforced various Fast Track Courts for the hearing of such cases. The Eleventh Finance Commission recommended a scheme for creation of 1734 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) in the country for disposal of long pending Sessions and other cases. Seeking justice is a right everyone is entitled to. Police should deal with all cases of harassment with the same sincerity and sense of duty.
These discussions can go on endlessly. Since ‘Actions speak louder than words’ it is show time for every responsible citizen to bring a stop to these brutal cases of sexual harassment and contribute in providing a healthier and happier place for every women in our country to live in.
Opinions expressed are of the writer.