Eve teasing, demand for dowry, rapes, female foeticide, sexual harassment at workplace, the list of problems that women face in Indian society unfortunately won’t end and so won’t the woes of those women who have to deal with reporting these crimes and await justice.
However, knowing some basic rights and privileges can go a long way in making the fight easier in harsh and tough times.
The Right to free legal aid.
When a woman gets her statement recorded at a police statement, unaided bya lawyer, she is open tothe risk that she might be misquoted or her statement might later be tampered with. Another risk is that thepolice might not even lodge an FIR. Therefore, it is very important for a woman to have a lawyer by her side while lodging an FIR. Women rights lawyer, SaumyaBhaumik says, “According to a Delhi High Court ruling, whenever a rape is reported, the SHO has to bring this to the notice of the Delhi Legal Services Authority. The legal body then arranges for a lawyer for the victim.”
Right to privacy.
The Police is by law mandated to preserve this right, so there are no two ways when it comes to claiming this right. According to section 164 of CPC, a woman who has been raped can get her statementrecorded before the district magistrate during the trial of the case. Nobody else needs to be present there at that time. Another alternative in this regard is that she can get her statement recorded in presence of just one police officerand woman constable in a place that she finds convenient, that may not be crowded, eliminating the chances of getting the statementoverheard by a fourth person.
While narrating the incident, it is important that the person is not under any stress or pressure and feels sufficiently comfortable.
Time lag between the incident and complaint is immaterial.
No matter how long it has been, it is still a crime and the Police is bound to register your complaint and an FIR. This holds true even if asizable time span has passed since the incident of rape or molestation occurred. Do not settle for the Police saying that since you didn’t report earlier, they can’t lodge your FIR now. Supreme Court advocate,
Tariq Abeed says, “Rape is a horrifying incident for any woman, so it’s natural for her to go into shock and not want to report it immediately. She may also fear for her safety and the reputation and dignity of her family. For this reason, the Supreme Court has ruled that the police must register an FIR even if there has been a gap between the report and the occurrence of the incident.”
An email is as good as going to the Police station.
As per the directions issued by Delhi Police, women do not necessarily show up at a police station to lodge her complaint. She can do so by the means of registered postor even via email. Her complaint should be in the written form, and should be addressed to a senior police officer of the level of Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Police. The addressee officer will then instruct the SHO of the police station of the concerned area (the area where the incident occurred) to verify of the applicant and lodge an FIR. Afterwards, the Police can go to the victim’s house to take her statement.
Don’t fall for – “Madam, area doesn’t come under this Police station.”
A Supreme Court ruling that most women are is that that a rape victim can get an FIR lodged in any policethe Zero FIR ruling. Therefore don’t leave the police station without lodging your complaint when the police says that area under the police station is different from that where the incident happened.
Tariq Abeed throws more light on the issue, “Sometimes, the police station under which the incident occurs refuses to register the victim’s complaint in order to keep clear of responsibility, and tries sending the victim to another police station. In such cases, she has the right to lodge an FIR at any police station in the city under the Zero FIR ruling. The senior officer will then direct the SHO of the concerned police station to lodge the FIR.”
Women can’t be arrestedafter sunset.
As per a Supreme Court ruling, women cannot be held in detention after sunset and before sunrise, not even if awoman constable accompanies the officers. After numerous cases emerged in which the arrestedwomencomplained that the police harassed them at weehours, the Supreme Court gave the ruling that a woman can be held back at a police station only during daytime.
“Even if there is a woman constable accompanying the officers, the police can’t arrest a woman at night. In case the woman has committed a serious crime, the police has to get it in writing from the magistrate explaining why the arrest is necessary during the night,”Bhaumiksays.
Women can’t becalled to the police station.
Under Section 160 of the CPC, the police cannot ask a woman to come to the police station for queries or interrogation. This translates as the right of not being physically present at the police station for interrogation. “The police can interrogate a woman at her residence in the presence of a woman constable and family members or friends,”Abeedsays. Therefore, after you have already faced some kind of harassment, don’t let the cops harass you any further.
Most of the people must be aware of the fact that the identity of the rape victim has to be kept confidential. Neither the media nor the police can reveal the name of the victim publically.Under the Section 228-A of the IPC, revelation of a victim’s identity is a punishable offense. Publishing or printing anything about the victim, that may hint at the identity of the woman concerned is punishable. The law provides protection to women from ostracism or social victimisation of the victim. Even during the trial or while bringing about thejudgement, the name of the victim is not taken and she is referred to as ‘victim’only.
It is not the doctor’s decision.
The case of rape cannot be dismissed owing to a doctor saying that rape has not occurred. Under the Section 164 A of the CPC, a rape victim is required to be examined medically, and only the report thereafter can be considered a proof.Bhaumik further explains, “A woman has the right to have a copy of the medical report from the doctor. Rape is crime and not a medical condition. It is a legal term and not a diagnosis to be made by the medical officer treating the victim. The only statement that can be made by the medical officer is that there is evidence of recent sexual activity. Whether the rape has occurred or not is a legal conclusion and the doctor can’t decide on this.”
Protection by employer.
Everyemployer is bound by law toestablish a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee in the company for so that such complaints can be redressed. As per Supreme Court guidelines, it is obligatory for all firms, private and public to work in this regard systematically. It is also mandatory for the committee to have a female head and comprise of 50%women as members. In addition to that at least one of the members should belong to a women’s welfare group.