Besides the regular culprits, abetting women even a few law enforcers are as guilty, writes Gajanan Khergamker
What makes rape such a diabolic crime is that the perpetrator more often than not is the one who’d be least suspected of having committed the offence. And, concurrently, placing brakes on the offence turns even more difficult as offenders range from unassuming family members, in which case the offence is rarely reported, to law-enforcers who misuse their power and authority to subjugate and commit rape.
A recent Right to Information (RTI) query revealed that women were charged with rape in Mumbai in five cases in 2009, 10 cases in 2010 and 12 in 2011. The data was obtained from 85 of the city’s 93 police stations. In the cases, the women were not prime accused but were accomplices who were accessories to the crime and were held for pushing minors into the flesh trade.
As, only a man can be charged under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, most rape cases against women were those involving trafficking and being an accomplice or abettor. RTI activist Chetan Kothari, who accessed the data, maintained that the cases “reflected a deeper societal problem, that of women abetting crimes against other women.”
Like more and more women are getting involved with rape issues, law enforcers themselves aren’t far behind. Just recently, an assistant commissioner of police from Vinoba Bhave Nagar police station was accused having raped a woman. The woman alleged that the assistant commissioner of police had offered her sweets, eating which she fell unconscious.
When she regained consciousness, the assistant commissioner allegedly showed her a recording of her in a compromised state and blackmailed her asking for sexual favours. This was incidentally the third time within a year that such charges were leveled against personnel posted at the police station in Kurla.
A little while back, the city police commissioner suspended police inspector Dilip Mangaonkar and constable Ashok Valekar of the Vinoba Bhave Nagar police station for allegedly outraging the modesty of probationary sub-inspector Trupti Borate in the same police station.
The VB Nagar police station registered a case under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (house trespass), 451(word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (common intention) IPC, against the two.
Incidentally, Mangaonkar and Valekar had been transferred to the central control room and main control room respectively, a fortnight back. Borate was shifted to Nehru Nagar police station at Kurla (East).
Borate alleged Mangonkar sent her lewd SMSes and often passed frequent sexual comments. He visited her home often and harassed her in the office calling her a celebrity look-alike and that she should have joined modeling instead of the police force.
This harassment was a regular occurrence since January, 2012. Finally, fed up with the torture, she mustered courage and lodged a complaint against the duo with the commissioner in March.
On receiving the complaint, the commissioner directed lady DCP Arvind Kaur Varaich to conduct a thorough inquiry into the allegation and subsequently submit a report. Based on the report, the police commissioner suspended the duo.
Last year, a sub-inspector from the same police station, Manoj Londe was arrested on charges of rape after he had physical relations with an airline employee after promising to marry her.
Ironically, back in town, assistant inspector Umesh Patil, attached to the Nagpada police station, was suspended recently for allegedly using a stolen bike with a fake registration number to patrol the area. Patil had apparently been using the stolen bike for the last three months.
Little hope in sight
- It may be recalled that in a shocking incident, drunken constable Sunil More of Marine Drive police station raped a college student at Marine Drive police chowky. He was arrested and is now in jail. He was dismissed from service.
- Two drunk constables in plain clothes, Subhash More and Suhas More, from Marol Police Training School held at Thane railway station were charged with molesting a woman and were subsequently suspended from service.
- Jaidev Thackeray’s security guard and constable, Rukmand Shinde was arrested for molesting his sister-in-law suspended.
- Sub-inspector Sudesh Shinde and his friend Raju Motiwala molested a Mahim beauty parlour employee.
- Constable Vilas Samant of Shivaji Park police station arrested and booked for molesting and blackmailing a woman
Rape law needs revamp
The need to revisit Indian Penal Code's Section 375 and expand upon it is felt now more than before. Far from any attempt to dilute the section and/or its punishment, there is a valid need to expand its definition and evolve a table of corresponding punishments.
Section 375 that deals with rape reads:
A man is said to commit 'rape' who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:
- Against her will
- Without her consent
- With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt
- With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married
- With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent
- With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age
Most important here, in the context, that is commonly confused remains the second condition wherein a man has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.
The first context in which a man has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, irrespective of her age, consent, state of mind etc., and the sixth in which a man has sexual intercourse with or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age is construed an out-and-out rape by general standards which would neither condone the act nor leave space for any blame-sharing.
Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.
Exception: Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.
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