”Power is in your hands”
A crime is committed against women every 1.7 minutes, every 16 minutes a rape case is recorded in this country and every 4.4 minutes a girl is subjected to domestic violence. In the wake of such heinous crimes which are prevalent in our society, a woman must be aware of some of the basic rights which she can exercise when the situation requires.
Free legal aid– Often we notice that women go to the police station unaccompanied by any lawyer which puts them under the threat that whatever statement they give can be misquoted. The chances for all this happening, is a major reason why one should be accompanied by a lawyer when filing an FIR. 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. Lodging a complaint– According to the guidelines issued by the Delhi Police, a woman has the privilege of lodging a complaint via email or registered post. If for some reason, a woman can’t go to the police station then she can send a written complaint through an email or registered post addressed to a senior police officer of the level of Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. The officer then directs the SHO of the police station, of the area where the incident occurred, to conduct proper verification of the complainant and lodge an FIR. The police can then come over to the residence of the victim to take her statement.
Zero FIR-Often it is heard that the police did not register an FIR because the area where the crime occurred was not under their jurisdiction. Well, now this can’t happen, the cops can’t say no since a rape victim can register her police complaint from any police station under the Zero FIR ruling by Supreme Court. Prevention of Harassment-There are many cases in the country where women are harassed by police at wee hours and so to prevent this from happening the Supreme Court came out with a verdict that a woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. 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. Protection of identity-A victim of rape or for that matter has the right to protect her identity. Under Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code which makes the disclosure of a victim’s identity which is a punishable offense. Publishing the name of any women against whom a crime has been committed is punishable. This is done to prevent social victimisation or ostracism of the victim of a sexual offense. Even while a judgment is in progress at the high court or a lower court, the name of the victim is not indicated, she is only described as ‘victim’ in the judgment. A victim of rape needs to be medically examined as per Section 164 A of the Criminal Procedure Code, and only the report can act as proof. But irrespective of the fact what the report states a case of rape cannot be dismissed even if the report says that rape has not taken place. Sexual harassment- Any sort of harassment at workplace is forgivable. According to a guideline issued by the Supreme Court, it is mandatory for all firms, public and private, to set up these committees to resolve matters of sexual harassment. It is also necessary that the committee be headed by a woman and comprise 50% women as members. Refusing FIR registration-The police cannot refuse to register an FIR even if a considerable period of time has elapsed since the incident of rape or molestation took place. Simply stating time doesn’t matter. “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.
———- About the Author: The article has been contributed by our intern, Anmol Sabharwal.