05, Oct 2020 | CJP Team
In wake of the rape, murder and forced cremation of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh, several questions are being raised about the role of the police in delaying even denying justice to rape survivors and victims. Now, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) have come out with a report that documents the harrowing journey of 14 women who experienced varying degrees of intimidation and harassment by the police.
The 14 case studies are first-hand accounts of reporting sexual assault to the police by survivors and caseworkers from the seven districts of Aligarh, Amroha, Auraiya, Lucknow, Jhansi, Jaunpur, and Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Of the 14 cases profiled, 11 were complaints of rape and 3 were complaints of gang-rape.
The findings of the study describe that survivors faced delay, derision, pressure, and severe harassment when they approach the police to report complaints and seek the registration of a First Information Report (FIR). The survivors’ experiences revealed that they faced discrimination by the police on the basis of gender and caste, impeding their access to justice at the gateway to the legal system. These experiences amplified the trauma of survivors and affected their mental and physical well-being.
Here are so me of the key findings of the report:
Delay in filing FIR: Of the 14 cases, FIRs of rape were registered only in 11 cases. Of the 11 cases, the time taken by the police to finally register an FIR ranged from 2 to 228 days. In six cases, police registered an FIR after complaints were escalated to senior police officers, and in the remaining cases, the FIR was registered after a court order.
Absence of women police officials: In 12 out of 14 cases, the survivors had to describe the details of sexual assault to a male police officer instead of a woman, contrary to the process laid down under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Allegations of ‘false claims’: Survivors revealed that police disbelieved them from the onset and often subjected them to misogynistic remarks. They also felt that police assume they are taking undue advantage of laws and make false claims to implicate men.
Dalit survivors suffer more: Dalit survivors expressed experiencing the double burden of discrimination on both gender and caste.
Pressure to ‘compromise’: Survivors and caseworkers underlined that the police mount pressure and intimidate them to look for solutions outside the legal system. Police try various coercive tactics to push survivors to settle or compromise by threatening to implicate their family members, or forcing marriage of the survivor and alleged perpetrator; and/or by forcing the survivors to dilute their written complaints.
The entire report may be read here:
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation headquartered in New Delhi, with offices in London, United Kingdom, and Accra, Ghana. Since 1987, it has advocated, engaged and mobilised around human rights issues in Commonwealth countries. Its specialisations in the areas of Access to Justice (ATJ) and Access to Information (ATI) are widely known.
Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) is a women-led and women-run human rights organisation committed to the protection and advancement of the human rights of women, children and other marginalised communities through direct intervention, capacity building, research and advocacy. With direct field presence in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand, AALI has been providing technical support to various human rights organisations and groups across India.