One or two year back, a new law was enacted by the government of India. The law was against any kind of oppression against women. The provisions were if a woman was forced out of her home or given threat for that, then her husband and in-laws would be immediately sentenced to one year imprisonment on receiving complaint from her. It surprised us for we asked our good friends in legal fraternity that if the husband was sent to jail then who would be paying numerous bills of her household? Would the honorable court shoulder the responsibility? Our good friends cast angry glances at us while nodding negatively.
Long back, while we were in college, we had the privilege of watching the proceedings of a rape case. The girl was forcefully picked up while she was returning after watching a movie in midday. She was gang-raped. Her family stood helpless and embarrassed, while the court proceedings went on. The girl was visibly shocked and tears rolled on her cheeks while she replied to the awkward questions from the lawyer of the accused. But the surprising thing was no body in the court was in a mood to believe the most traumatic experience of her life; a few people even jeered at her incident by their sarcastic remarks in low tones. Their remarks were that she exhibited herself too much by her stylish appearance and indirectly tempted those who committed the heinous crime.
The usual remark by some persons present there was no good girl could go to watch movie in the middle of the day without the accompaniment and protection by her family members. The lawyer painted a different picture by presenting some false witnesses that she was not coming back from the movie hall rather she had gone there to meet her boyfriend. Her boyfriend raped her first, while others followed suit. She had gone there for consensual sex and thereby motivated other guys to do this. That her boyfriend was absconding and the other boys were innocent.
We remained in utter psychological dilemma and pain for a few days after watching the farce in the court. She was brutally bitten by the drunken guys but how patiently the court wasted time by hearing those falsely implicating stories. Again our life gave us one unique vision through another incident. Once while sitting on the balcony of a friend’s house and watching the beauty of dusk, we saw one crow was electrocuted in the live electric wires of the poll. My God, what a scene!!! The fellow birds raised a pandemonium in sympathy by crowing for her. Some of the inmates from the apartment rushed out their cocoon of happy living and fed water to the bird while it breathed its last. We just remembered then the incident of the raped girl in empathetic comparison with the bird. We discussed that day that the girl had received shocks of more than a few thousands watts than the crow but there was sympathy in the world of birds and creatures but as humans we did not have it.
“Should a woman marry her rapist”- it is indeed a complex and sensitive question right from legal and social view-points.
We ask you here-“is marriage a safe option”? Whom would she marry if there was a gang-rape? While in India marriage is steeped in social stigmas like dowry and harassment by in-laws, in the western countries it is too fragile. How a woman can get her due by marrying an inhuman being who has thoroughly disgraced her? Let’s consider some of the well-thought out suggestions from our good friends.
Law must have more sympathetic corners for a rape victim- Giving a rape victim in marriage is a negligible option. Law makers should consider it more broadly from humanitarian point of view. Usually if a married woman is raped in India, we bestow an epithet on her, calling her a “Patita”-meaning the one who has fallen from the grace of her husband. If an unmarried girl is raped, we call her a “Dharsita”-meaning the one who was raped. Law has provision to hide the name and identity of the victim. But considering the publicity these cases usually get, such provisions are inadequate. Identities of the victims can not be hidden for a long time because the electronic and print media cry hoarse after such untoward incidents.
So true help can be given if the victim is given assistance for rehabilitation. To assuage the psychological and physical traumas, there should be provisions for her for government job or more humanly considerations from the government. In India the government is so broadly thinking about reservation for women in government jobs. So why the same government can not extend one or two percent of such reservation towards the rehabilitation of rape victims? As it is a social, collective responsibility, corporate sector can have similar provisions for the victims, who are qualified.
A rape should go through strict scientific and social rules to qualify as a rape- To facilitate the above; a rape has to truly qualify as a rape from justified scientific and social view points. Only by punishing some wayward persons with ten years rigorous imprisonment, we hardly work out solutions for this problem. The law must scrutinize the facts that lead to the molestation of the women. It should have stricter norms so that the solution derived from it would be quite compensating towards a victimized woman. Usually we are sending a rapist to a jail to be fed and groomed with the money of exchequer, while the victimized woman rots being barred from normal living in her social circles. Her own life becomes traumatic because she is held in anathema by the rest of the society.
A rape victim should be given the free option to marry- A rape victim must have marriage as a free option. She should be given more sympathetic solutions to get settled and marry the person whom she would like to marry. Forcing the accused to marry the victim is hardly a desirable option because if the former is a goon and anti-social character, the latter would have to bear the torture for good. If the accused person in a rape case regrets and shows personal willingness to marry the victim, law can give permission only after taking the consent of the victim.
Rape is an assault on the physical and mental fronts- A rape is a serious assault on the physical and mental fronts of the victim. Therefore it is a criminal offence. But we have treated this as a stigma on the chastity of women. People in our societies need broadmindedness to accept a victim of rape and allow her to live a normal life. That will heal the physical and mental wounds inflicted by other people.
Reward for the Samaritan who agrees to marry a rape victim- Law should make provisions that if a good person marries a victim of rape, then he would be suitably rewarded. Provision like this would be helpful in abetting the settlement of a girl in living a peaceful and happy life.