7 inside truths about how Indian Police handles rape cases

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1. The “Keep the register empty” Policy

Many officers try to judge the validity of complaint before filing an FIR, for which neither do they have expertise nor authority. It is not their job to decide if the act of sex was consensual or not. Accepting an official complaint means filing, investigation and a butt-load of other work that follows. It also reflects badly on them that a rape incident happened on their watch. Instead of handling the trauma on priority, every case witnesses blatant neglect. They’re like “another pleasant evening spoiled by this jawan-badchalan-chhori who clearly invited rape”. A brutal rape case is not a shock for them, it’s a part of their daily job – and like the performance bell-curve of any industry, they like to perform just enough so they don’t lose their job. No humanists in police forces here. Sensitivity workshops too are just as effective as their conductors; for name-sake only.

2. The Curious Case of Elite Criminals

When a complaint is lodged against an eminent, like an MP or an MLA, the understanding is to take exclusive permission from a senior to begin proceedings. If the case can’t be suppressed  there’re enough ways to do a lousy investigation and file a weak case. What’ll the court do, if the investigator was hired to fail in the first place? Have you ever seen a rape case proven against a politician? Despite enough prima-facie evidence, it always ends up as a conspiracy by the opposition parties. Police will never bite the hand that feeds it. An average tharki MP has enough confidence to have their pick of the women to harass or use for their personal merry-making purposes. Anybody remember Gopal Kanda?

3. The Monopoly of the Misogynist State

A cop, like you and I, too is a ‘Bhartiya’ – with rigid cultural beliefs and pre-conceived notions about morality. What is the most common attribute of North Indian police force? The Haryanvi Jat police personnel. I mean, they’re everywhere. They’re recruited for their toughness. Congratulations for all the physical strength, but have you ever tried arguing with one jat policeman? Pick anybody, logic is beyond their grasp. Haryana isn’t exactly known for it’s women-friendliness. Whether it’s their female-infanticide, lop-sided gender ratio, or open support for crimes by Khaps, there’s something really wrong going-on in Haryana today. It’s like that state is still firmly cemented into the medieval-age. How do you expect an average Jat police-officer to understand the plight of a modern free thinking young woman who was raped because she was wearing a skirt?

4. The Breed of Rapists in Uniform

The question that should be asked is that what kind of husbands, fathers and brothers are Indian cops in their personal lives? What is the effect of dealing with violence so up-and-close on a daily level on their psyche? How much domestic violence is happening in a cop’s home? Are they even fit to deal with women in trauma? Does the plight of a rape victim touch them at any emotional level? A cop 9 out of 10 occasions is subconsciously siding with the rapist. It’s common to find Freudian-slips during press-conferences when a man officer tries to justify the rape. How can you rely on men like these to solve rape cases? They’re the same breed of rapists, just in uniform. While they’re stating that the rape happened, in their minds they’re thinking, “did you see the length of her skirt on her, time of the night, level of alcohol in her body … gotten a chance I’d have raped her too”.

5. The “I’m doing you a favor” attitude

I’m sure you can relate with this. If a common man could drill a really deep hole into the skulls of our thick-headed policemen, they’d be able to convince them that it’s the tax that we pay that pays their salaries. But that argument can’t be won. It’s a common expectation of our cops to expect us common-folks begging of them to do their job. And in the end we should still be thankful towards them. Indian police should learn a few lessons from their American counter-parts. Humanity is somehow still alive in that country. A visit to police-station is not a mini-harassment-session. Why is the concept of public service dead among public servants in India?

6. The Myth of Woman Police Officers

Back to the question of recruitment – who’re these women? I do not mean to say that they’re all bad officers. In a police station, the pecking order is the same like any strict patriarchal household. Despite working at the same level, women officers know their place. Any female police officer will anonymously verify this fact. These women too are a product of our society which teaches women to be back at home by 8 pm. And that’s advice they dissipate after a rape to victim’s parents, often personally. The norm is to say some thing like this … “woman police force exists to back rape victims, but people should understand that it’s the girl’s mistake too, who asked her to hangout with a group of boys and take hard drinks?”

7. The Zero Understanding of Law

You interview 10 policemen, they all will have their own versions of sexual assault related laws. What classifies as rape? If she was drunk, does that mean the sex was consensual? If she was partying with boys, or was already sleeping with one of the boys, or worse was sexually active … does that mean she doesn’t have a right to say no to sex? These imbecile specimens of cops whose morals haven’t evolved after the medieval-age, whose extended family hasn’t stepped outside their familial village, are allowed to join the police forces in metropolitan and harass educated, tax-paying responsible citizens. Why scrape the bottom of the talent-barrel to recruit our law-enforcement officers? How much does the quota policy of the government contribute this? Why is our government allowing the constant erosion of quality human resource in policing services?

Credit: Photo by Quinn Anya

Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga

Political Analyst. Social Visionary. Editorial Journalist. Founder of open-magazine Indian Exponent.

Follow him on twitter @IshaanMohan

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Indian Exponent: 7 inside truths about how Indian Police handles rape cases
7 inside truths about how Indian Police handles rape cases
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