The horrific news of the rape and murder of young Asifa Bano in Kathua, Kashmir numbs one’s mind

The horrific news of the rape and murder of young Asifa Bano in Kathua, Kashmir numbs one’s mind. The mindset and perverseness of the perpetuators is beyond comprehension and no words can explain their macabre deed. Worse still, there are at least 3 more similar cases we’ve been hearing about across India in recent times. I consider rape as a crime against the most helpless of sections of society and believe the strongest of punishment must be meted out to the perpetuators.

Where are we lacking and why is the number of cases growing day by day? I feel it’s to do with our legal system. We have fewer courts and they have to deal with a huge number of cases, growing by the hour. I also feel every important node in the system is overburdened – the police, the judges etc. This leads to inordinate delays in every aspect of the crime – from filing an FIR to collection of evidence, charge sheet, hearing and sentencing, an aspect that gives perpetuators the courage to commit the crime. They know well that they can escape from the clutches of a well-defined but helplessly overburdened system

.

We started New India, a self-funded NGO with the sole objective of offering financial/ legal/ other support to rape victims. As Chairman, I also spearhead our efforts towards creating public opinion to influence the Government’s attention towards setting up of the judicial infrastructure required for speedy disposal of rape cases in India. Our goal is ‘Act2Sentence in 30 days’ and we are sure this is possible or must be made possible.

Here I refer to the Rajasthan High Court’s landmark judgment based on an incident in May 2005. The court ordered that all agencies including FSL file their report by May 16 and that trial of the case should be concluded within a month of filing the charge-sheet. The Additional Sessions Judge in Jodhpur’s fast track court pronounced judgment on June 1, 2005, just about three weeks after incident and the two accused were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Recently, a court in Madhya Pradesh sentenced three gang rape accused in Dhar to life imprisonment and the fourth accomplice was sentenced to three years in jail. The verdict was delivered in a record 10 days.

So, while we need to do our bit for victims/ families, we also need to work simultaneously to build a collective consciousness that would lead to more dedicated courts, convictions and punishments – all working to make our communities safer for our country’s women and children. And we welcome all those who wish to make an impact to join us towards creating this social change