THE HYDERABAD ENCOUNTERS- JUSTICE SERVED? AT WHAT COST?

Author: Rahul Srinivas

 

We know that the number of rapes keep increasing in the country and we, the citizens are more aware and enraged about it, now more than ever. Thanks to social media. The cycle of women being raped and the guilty getting away with it, while we stood and watched this injustice happen kept repeating until the 6th of this month.

The Hyderabad rape case consisted of a woman veterinarian of age twenty-five, who was brutally gang raped and murdered, and her body burnt. This inhuman act enraged the whole nation. The four suspects in this case were Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen Kumar and Chintakunta Chenna Keshavulu. These four people were arrested to be interrogated. There was no concrete proof that all four had a part in this unspeakable act, and so they were taken for interrogation.

But, on December 6th, the alleged rapists were shot to death by the Hyderabad police. All the four suspects were encountered by the police. The police claimed that the suspects tried to flee and were armed, and hence they had no other option other than to shoot them for self-defense. This does sound a bit far fetched and cinematic.

But the effect these encounters had on our citizens was different. On that day, the citizens who were enraged of the injustice, the families of the victims who were mourning their loss and the millions of helpless souls that prayed for the ones who passed; everyone got an answer. Everyone stood united against the injustice. Everyone felt at peace for a while on knowing the fact that finally, someone did something.

But let us look at the facts for a minute here. These four alleged rapists were after all, alleged. There wasn’t any concrete proof to prove them guilty. And fortunately, or unfortunately, our system says ‘Innocent until proven guilty’. And in front of the eyes of the law, they were not guilty. In front of the eyes of the nation, they were not innocent.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding this encounter. A lot of politicians and celebrities like Akhilesh Yadav and Vivek Anand Oberoi, tweeted supporting the encounter while some stood against it as that is just not how the system works. But our laws allow encounters for self-defense. But is that what actually happened is still a mystery. Shooting and the killing the suspects at the same spot they allegedly killed the victim seems to be a bit much to be a coincidence though.

On one hand, the system does not allow this. But on the other hand, I feel that our system on itself is flawed. It takes a lot of time for concrete proof and to prove that the suspects are guilty. For instance, seven years have passed since the brutal rape and murder of the Delhi medical student Nirbhaya. The four accused are yet to be hanged even after getting the death sentence. A system that takes seven years to hang criminals who are proven guilty, is neither a fast nor an effective system.

Another flaw in our system is that the suspects can not be held in custody for that long as it is really easy to get a bail in our country. And is animals like these get bail this easily, they will continue to do these brutal acts again. So, basically the system would have allowed these suspects into the country to roam free and commit crimes while it should have already punished them for their crimes. The recent UP Unnao rape victim’s situation clearly saw the full extent of this flaw.

The victim was raped by two men, who were granted bail. A few days ago, when she was asked to appear on court for the hearing, she was abducted by five men- the 2 accused, their fathers and another male. They took her to a field, poured kerosene on her and burned her. She called the police and ran for almost a kilo metre by herself, in that condition. She was then admitted and sadly, passed away in the hospital.

Her final words said that she wanted to see those who did this to her be hanged. She died without her last words coming true.

So now you decide. Was the encounter of alleged rapists and going against the system for justice wrong? Or is a system that doesn’t punish the guilty and allows these animals to roam free wrong?

#MeToo

Author: Afreen

The #MeToo initiative was a movement started to combat sexual harassment and assault. It went viral in the past years as a way for victims of harassment to vent out their frustration and to call out their alleged harassers. It still continues to pick up steam to this day. Its main purpose revolved around the empowerment of vulnerable individuals and to give others a sense of the magnitude of the issue of harassment.

Using social media as a platform to reveal the prevalence of sexual violence in society, it became all the craze with people to gain the right to relate with others, and call out demeaning predatory behaviour.As the initiative met with success, by acknowledgement from even high profile celebrities, the notion that harassment shouldn’t be kept under wraps became a worldwide sensation.

Keeping in mind the publicity one gains from participating in this movement, many have filed false allegations against innocent people, without evidence, leading to a devastating effect on the lives of the accused. Like almost every other social campaign, it has fallen victim to opportunism from individuals.

Because of such disgraceful people, both sexes suffer greatly. Men are now afraid to compliment women in any way, touch them in acceptable situations or afraid to simply be alone with women at all. One bold liar is all it takes to have our lives in shambles. Men aren’t the only victims here. The price women pay for this extra security is skepticism and an arms-length approach by men in dealing with them both professionally and personally.

So, has the #MeToo really changed anything? One can’t definitely say that it has made absolutely no impact on our community. The numbers of men and women healing after confiding in to others and opening up to their therapists have shown an exponential increase after the introduction of #MeToo. The #MeToo movement gives people the courage to speak out, and since most sexual assault goes unreported

As controversial as #MeToo is, its important to remember that movements like these, have positive effects that outweigh the detrimental ones and does, in fact, bring about a large change in the mindsets of people.

Safety: A Birthright of All

Our constitution grants us the Right to Life under the many civil rights that it has provided for its citizens. This privilege promises that the state has to make provisions for the well-being and the safety of its citizens, something that it has failed to do in recent times. An individual’s safety includes protection from abuse, harassment, and predators.

How is it that no number of rules or laws can stop these sexual carnivores from inflicting a lifetime of pain and trauma on unsuspecting individuals? Cases of such hideous crimes are often brought up by the media and left to become breaking news. However, what surprises me the most is how gender-specific safety has become. There are laws and laws that are being passed to ensure that every Cinderella reaches home unscathed, without having to call upon a Fairy Godmother. Women now are in possession of a prerogative which exempts them from any legal action, if found guilty of the murder of their assailant while defending themselves. But in this “We-stand-for-equality” era, aren’t the males of the society equally prone to being targets for these demons in human forms?

Last week, the news highlighted the story of a 36-year-old woman who sexually attacked a nine-year-old boy several times for more than a year, all over a family dispute. The devil dwells in a female figurine as well and is capable of causing the same amount of anguish. There is a greater need to focus on the safety of the males in this country and not leave them to defend themselves with the weapon of masculinity. The perils of avoiding sex education and making it a taboo are faced equally by both the genders. When the judiciary decided to support the rights of the LGBT community, it was unaware of the dangers that could follow. Last month, the nation heard of a case in which a woman was guilty of abusing another woman. It is not just a man with cheap sexual fantasies that a woman needs to be aware of. Her own kind is capable of wounding her in a way she never thought possible. Well, for the feminists with the singular motto of “What men can do, women can do better”, this point is definitely in your bag.

A 14-year-old boy in Mumbai reported sexual assault by a man, soon after which he died of rat poison consumption. In India, the minimum punishment for raping a boy is 10 years in jail, compared with 20 years for assaults on girls under 16. Why this discrimination? While there still is limited awareness, focus and advocacy on women’s rights in sexually violent circumstances, it is even less so when men are the victims of these crimes. A man’s culprit deserves a severe punishment like a lady’s. Every person, be it a male, a female or a transgender, has the right to feel safe and secure walking down a deserted street at any time of the day. It is the need of the hour that we start addressing the issue of male security in the country and around the globe. After all, feminism is not about one gender being better than the other; it is about all of them being equal.

While the Nirbhaya rape case of 2012 succeeded in raising awareness regarding the safety of women in the country, male victims failed to gain much attention. The masculine gender happens to be the most neglected sufferer of sexual assault. A victim cannot get over the psychological trauma easily. It is essential that we try to understand their perspective and ensure that their voices are heard. One can spend a lifetime trying to forget a few moments that lie in the past. Martin Luther King Jr. aptly said our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. From infancy, males are told that they should strive to be masculine, i.e. resilient, self-sufficient, dominant in sexual interactions and able to defend both themselves and those relying on them for protection. This has to change. We, as a society, need to understand that these assumptions, very often, become barriers for them to open up and share their experiences. They believe that encounters of such abuse may contravene with these expectations. The right to equal safety provisions has to change
as an under-discussed phenomenon. It’s work that we all have to start right now.