National Consultation on The challenges of Access to Justice and Social and Medical support for Survivors of Rape and Sexual Abuse
9thDecember, 2016 at Constitution Club, Rafi, New Delhi
In 2015, the Indian National Crime Record Bureau recorded an alarming figure of violence against women. A total of 3,27,394 crimes against women were reported in 2015, including 34,556 rapes and 2113 cases of gang rape. 28359 of the total victims of rape were girls under 18 years of age. In addition, 4437 cases of attempt to Commit Rape, 59,277 cases of kidnapping and abduction of girls and women have also been registered. A total of 8,800 cases were registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act during 2015. Government data also acknowledges that out for every thousand women who approach the police with their complaints of sexual violence, first information reports were registered in 337 cases, charge-sheets was submitted in 190 case of rape and trials were completed in just 28 cases. Justice is often elusive for most survivors with a national conviction rate of 27% in 2013.
The causes behind this poor conviction rate are complex. Majority of sexual violence offenses take place against women marginalized because of their caste or economic status. Before cases even get as far as the police station, survivors of rape and sexual violence face tremendous pressure from their families, influential upper caste persons, and religious institutions to remain silent. Intimidation and isolation ensure that survivors do not have the support they require to navigate the complex legal system. Survivors that do have the courage to approach the police are likely to experience insensitivity, corruption, shoddy investigation, and delayed action. In May 2013, the Supreme Court of India banned the two-finger test but, across the country this practice remains prevalent. Many rape survivors are still forced to undergo the “two finger test”—to confirm sexual assault. Non conformation to prescribed medico legal procedures by doctors usually result in incomplete medical reports that further weakens the chances of justice.
In this context Jan Sahas and Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan organized a “National Consultation on the Challenges of Access to Social and Medical support and Justice for Survivors of Rape and Sexual Abuse” on 9thDecember, 2017 at Constitution Club, Rafi, New Delhi with the objective of is to discuss the role of police, medical, judiciary and family to ensure justice to the survivor. By providing a platform for survivors and family members to speak about the challenges they have faced, appropriate authorities and stakeholders will be exposed to existing realities and can contribute to making responses effective and just. Various social and state actors – survivors of rape and sexual violence, their family members, representatives of relevant government department and commissions, policy makers and representatives from the judiciary, civil society, media, lawyers, and UN agencies participated in the consultation.