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Is the fear of laws for women being misused valid?

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Dec 16, 2016, 3:57 am IST
Updated : Dec 16, 2016, 4:51 am IST

A lot of times the cases are filed after years of being in a relationship. No one can be raped for years.

Laws to protect women are crucial to ensuring women's safety, because they acknowledge crimes against women.
 Laws to protect women are crucial to ensuring women's safety, because they acknowledge crimes against women.

It’s a national security crisis
Binalakshmi Nepram

The story of women in India is a story of immense struggle, from womb to tomb. Around 12 million Indian female foetuses had been reported to be aborted in the past thirty years in India. Each year, on an average, 1 million unborn female children are killed in the mother’s womb. If they manage to survive, then many girl children are forced into marriage. India has 24 million child brides, highest in the world. Over 500,000 married women have been recorded to have been killed in India due to dowry tortures. Every 22 minutes, a woman, girl child and an infant is raped and there are over 100,000 pending rape cases in the country.

With these harsh realities, India as a nation, even in its 70th year of Independence, do need to find ways to ensure protection of women. The rights of women in India can be of Constitutional as well as legal rights.

The Constitution of India has several articles that protects the rights of women, such as in Article 15(1), which states, “The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” Several subsequent articles such as Article 16, 23, 42, 51, and many, others, guarantees full rights to women in India.

Besides the Constitutional provisions, several laws have been passed in the past years to protect women from sexual harassment, dowry, domestic violence tec. There was also the Anti-Rape Bill, following the massive protest in New Delhi after the brutal gangrape of Nirbhaya.

But since the December 16 gangrape, rapes reported in Delhi have reported increased by 200%. The conviction rate of overall crime against women in India stands at a mere 25 per cent, as per legal experts.

Laws to protect women are crucial to ensuring women’s safety, because they acknowledge the crimes against women that go unnoticed and highlight cases where justice is often denied.

If every 22 minutes a woman in India is raped, isn’t it time that we recognise it as a “national security” crisis and urgently work to ensure gender justice.

Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India

Only 5-10% cases filed are genuine
Geeta Luthra

Yes, the existing laws are being misused. In my experience, there are many false cases which are filed in the courts by women. Now, because of these cases, it becomes very difficult to explain to the court which are the genuine ones and which are not. In my opinion, only 5-10 per cent of cases filed under Sections 498(A) and 406(A) are genuine.

While there are no doubts that there are authentic scenarios where women need courts to protect them, but there are many examples of women casually filing complaints, resultantly in a lot of collateral damage.

I have dealt with cases where women file a rape case against a married man, alleging that the “She was promised marriage”, but as per law, how can a married man promise marriage to another woman? A married man cannot make such promises, so in such cases, where there are consensus relations between a man and a woman, filing a rape case seems to be a misuse of the law.

A lot of times the cases are filed after years of relationship. No one can be raped for years, It is unfortunate that men have affairs outside of their marriage, but it is also unfortunate the way allegations are meted out to strengthen the case.

There was a case, not a marital discord or anything, it was a property case. A man and his wife had used their deaf and dumb daughter to make allegations of rape to strengthen their case in a land dispute. They made claims that their daughter had a miscarriage. The courts immediately asked for a proof, because if there is an abortion or a miscarriage, there is a foetus or medical reports to back the story. The courts had taken a stern view of this and when the couple couldn’t establish rape, there was an FIR against the man.

There are false cases filed by employees against employers, tenants against landlords and even in other disputes, where the party has larger interests at hand.

Interestingly, courts outside of Delhi are very stringent with any leniency in such allegation against men in dowry, rape and harassment cases.

Geeta Luthra, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court

Tags: constitution of india, rape, domestic violence, anti-rape bill