I’m a rape survivor. I have survived sexual violence and I’m deeply disappointed at this moment.
The Government has slashed 660 rape crisis centres that were initially approved and about to be set up in India, termed as 'Nirbhaya centres'. They will now establish only 36 centres, one for each state and union territory. Instead of one in every district, we will now have only one in every state. 36 rape crisis centres for a population of over a billion. Is this fair?
Why we shouldn't ignore this move:
It's a gross mismatch of numbers. The number of rapes reported in the year 2013 stands at 33,707. In 2012, the number was 24,923. It is quite obvious that the numbers are increasing. Most importantly, we need to realise that these figures are only for 'reported' cases. We have effectively failed to account for thousands and lakhs of women who have been raped, tortured, humiliated and shunned into silence.
I’m among those millions who have not reported. I’m not a part of this statistic. Do I want to report? Yes. Am I confident that I would not be mocked at, dismissed, and called a sex worker whose deal went wrong or a disgruntled woman who’s framing an innocent man? No.
"Police is much more sensitive now": Do we all agree?
What angers me furthermore is the reason given by the authorities. We have cut down the number of rape crisis centres because they say, "Our police have become much more sensitive now." How close is this statement to reality?
From the refusal to file an FIR in rape cases, like that of a recent brutal rape of a 5-year-old girl in Delhi, or the police inaction in Badaun, UP case, to my own experience of filing a molestation case just three months back, the protectors of Indian citizens who have now apparently become more sensitive, have a lot to answer.
No country for women
In December 2014, I had tried filing a molestation complaint in Goa, where I was vacationing with family and friends. The attendant of a hotel molested me and I decided to file a complaint. When I approached the Police, I was told that it is my fault I was 'roaming out till this late.' That 'decent girls' don't do 'such things'. The Police Inspector also went on to tell me that if he found his daughter doing 'such' things, he would promptly give her a hard slap across the face.
I was moral policed when I wanted to file a complaint. I was also told that I should be thankful that I was just molested, and not raped.
Any normal person would be able to understand that such behaviour is anything but sensitive. Sure, it would be wrong to paint our police force with the same brush, but my case is not an isolated incident. There are many women out there who cannot complain because they do not have the necessary information and support at their disposal to seek justice. Rape crisis centres are supposed to be that one-stop centre where rape survivors can seek medical, legal and counselling services, all under one roof. These centres would also have a retired police officer who would help in filing FIRs. Sadly, this will still remain a dream for many women who continue to live their lives in silence.
Any strong democracy should be able to answer this question; what happens to people who survive rape? A mere 36 rape crisis centres is not the answer.
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