Feminists Groundwork for Marital Rape law.

PUNE: After Promoting many Gender biased laws and women centric laws which are widely misused by women to harass husband and his family, now Feminists are doing ground work for new laws, such as Marital Rape and Harsh punishment for rape too.

Below news report clearly says Women organisations are planning for New Marital Rape law, where Women can file case against her husband, even after she sleeps with him willingly and next morning she can report it to police as RAPE.

Women in Pune are vulnerable to crime against them not just outside but also within the four walls of their homes. The state criminal investigation department’s recently released `Crime in Maharashtra 2011′ report shows that more cases of dowry deaths and cruelty by husbands and relatives were reported in the city in the year 2011 as against 2010 even as the number of rape cases dropped marginally in the city but increased in Pune rural. Overall, crime against women went up by a worrisome 13.72 % in 2011 in Pune city, shaking the “safe for women” tag it enjoys.

Cases of cruelty by husband and relatives, molestation, prostitution and dowry deaths have shown a marked increase in the city while rape, which had gone up sharply from 67 cases in 2009 to 91 cases in 2010, has come down to 79 cases in 2011. Kidnapping and abduction involving women victims have decreased in 2011 compared to the increase that was recorded in 2010.

Pune city and Pune rural have contributed 4.24% and 3.32% of the total cases of crime against women in the state in 2011, respectively far less than Mumbai’s share of 10.23% and neighbouring Ahmednagar’s 7% share.

Observers note that the rise in the number of molestation cases and a not too significant drop in the number of sexual harassment cases is cause for concern.

“The rise in the incidences of molestation and sexual harassment or eve teasing, which is usually seen as the starting point to more serious offences like rape and murder, remains a cause for concern. This is more pertinent in the case of sexual abuse of child,” said Rama Sarode, lawyer and socio-legal analyst who is the secretary of NGO `Sahayog‘ that works on women’s rights issues.

“In cases of marital relationship and domestic violence, incidences of sexual abuse has been on the rise but the IPC does not consider marital rape unless the age of the woman is below 16 years, which means child marriage,” said Sarode. “Flaws like these call for widening the scope of definition of rape in IPC,” she added, further pointing out that there was a need to bring in other forms of sexual assault under rape to give a realistic estimate on the total number of such cases.

The rising number of cases is also indicative of women becoming more aware of their rights. “It’s not just the women from lower income groups but even those from middle and higher income groups are coming forward to lodge complaints with the women’s protection cell in the police commissioner office,” said Ashwini Tambe, sociologist and coordinator of Bayabai Karve Women’s Study Centre. At the same time, women have better access to legal remedies which is in turn pushing the number of cases that get reported, according to former additional director general of CID Ashok Dhiware.

“Women too have become more aware, educated, financially empowered and independent and have come on an equal footing with men,” he said.

Observers note there is better awareness in general. “It is not just women but, school-going girls too are vulnerable to sexual harassment in some form or the other. Social helplines and counseling cells regularly receive calls about such harassment.

There is a greater awareness these days even in schools where girls are being counseled about how to respond to harassment issues and whom to report the matter to,” said Tambe. She added there was a need to strengthen vigilance committees for women at police stations as not all committees can be said to be working efficiently.

The city’s changing social fabric is also contributing to crime against women. Jayant Umranikar, former Pune police commissioner, said, “The growing process of urbanization and the presence of a large section of floating population like men leaving their families behind to work in cities, are key factors in the increase in cases of crime against women in bigger cities like Pune.”

“If the number of cases under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, which addresses prostitution, has gone up than it is only indicative of better enforcement measures,” said Umranikar.

He, however, said, “Incidents of molestation need to be analysed in the context of where they have occurred. If there are more such cases in public places then the same reflects on a major shortcoming in policing and police presence,” he said.

Umranikar said, “Crimes of passion like rape,murder and cruelty by husband/relatives are indicative of the social malice. These offences are not preventable but, an increase in these incidences means that women are getting more aware and courageous in reporting such crimes.” But, there can be a flip side to these rising cases. Ashwini Tambe points out that some cases of cruelty by husband and relatives also indicate a declining level of tolerance among women, who reach out to the police even for minor issues to settle scores with their in-laws.

Former additional director general of CID Ashok Dhiware said, “Offences like prostitution have social and lifestyle angles as has been highlighted by some of the high-profile raids conducted by the city police’s social security cell in the recent times. Involvement of small time actresses and models are a pointer to the lifestyle issues that make them enter the world of prostitution. Prostitution outlets working under the garb of massage parlours are other pointers to this phenomenon.”

Dhiware said, “Social crimes like cruelty by husband/relatives usually pose difficulties in terms of prevention as marriage or survival of the same is more of an emotional issue. One also needs to see the rate of conviction by courts in such cases. A poor conviction rate means lesser deterrence for people engaging in such offences.” He said, “Cases coming before the conciliation and counseling cells run by the police often point out various causes associated with the modern day family system where both, husband and wife, are working and have lesser time to give to each other, growing emphasis on career and acquisition of wealth etc. Many cases of cruelty by husband/relatives do have their root in these factors.”

“Figures in the CID report cannot be relied totally for analyzing the extent of problem as the same are usually based on the crimes that actually get reported,” Sarode said. She said there is still a large section of women population, which is voiceless in terms of securing access to legal remedies against crime. This section can not be overlooked.

Incidences get pushed under the carpet for reasons varying from flaws in the existing laws, reluctance of law enforcing agencies like the police, to register first information reports especially in cases of cruelty by husband/relatives, and the inadequacies in the implementation of laws.”

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