The scale of sexual assaults by police officers in India

Ground Report | New Delhi: Sexual assaults are unfortunately and disturbingly common in India. There are several data to prove that sexual assaults and specifically rape take place every 18 minutes in the country. The data of 2018 suggested India as the most dangerous place for women as per Thomas Reuters Foundation while 99 cases of rape often go unreported in the country.

With such an accelerating rate of sexual assaults against women, it makes it harder for women to trust let alone differentiate predators from decent men. There’s no single day that goes by without publishing the story of another survivor or victim. Although the laws in India are getting stronger India has still not been able to cover its loopholes as many of the cases are unreported while others are not taken into account and longs for justice for eternity. 

The cases which caught media attention and largely impacted the nation somehow got the justice family sought, for instance, the case of Nirbhaya got nationwide courage and resulted in mass protests and years of fighting and after such excruciating efforts, the justice was served. Although cases like these are exceptions that are closed after serving the justice as most cases are left to rot in files by the jurisdiction.

Women are often hesitant to file a complaint as they try and seek courage after the atrocity of sexual abuse they had faced. However, somehow even if they find the courage to speak up against the brutality, women are smacked on the face by either a corrupt system or predators disguised as saviours on loose ends.

Teen Sexually Assaulted by Police Officer

When you realize the kind of person whose job is supposed to protect you not just fails at it but also misuses it to prey on you and stab you in the back, is the scariest thing an individual can go through. This is not some gruesome story but an unfortunate reality. A thirteen-year-old teen from Uttar Pradesh was raped by a group of men in the state of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh then went to file a complaint to the police in her state, where she was again raped by the police officer who was supposed to take action against the ordeal she faced. This is just one instance, In India, more than 28000 women are raped and sexually assaulted every year. The one place they’re supposed to feel safe and be heard has become a place to prey on the survivor. 

In the light of such cases, many cases have come forward where women were sexually assaulted by police officers. There’s another case of Lucknow where a 40-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in a police booth. Such cases make you not only doubt a part of the system but the entire system and the power it poses at all levels.

Also Read:  False rape cases in India; 8 times when women falsely accused men

Another incident that sent chills down the spine was the atrocities caused by the Delhi police. As per the report of the National Federation of Indian Women, at the time of protest against CAA in Jamia Nagar, a terrifying number of 45 individuals were sexually assaulted by Delhi Police.

Women from as young as the age of 16 to 60 were sexually assaulted at the hands of police officers, and are now facing serious gynaecological problems, while they were bedridden for weeks in pain, pus and blood. It wasn’t just women who were assaulted sexually but men too at the hands of the police in Delhi, this put forth a serious problem of not being able to trust the very institution that is built on the foundation of trust, security, and protection. 

Women’s involvement in Police Force, impact on sexual assault cases

It is deeply saddening and unfortunate that women make up only 7% of the Indian Police workforce out of these 90% are constables while only 1% make up the supervisory position. The highest numbers of women in the police force are from Tamil Nadu while the lowest numbers come from Telangana.

However, why are we talking about the importance of women in the police workforce? The reason is associated with the respect to reporting sexual assaults. Women feel much safer and more comfortable sharing their ordeal with a women police constable or officer, but that doesn’t conclude the significance of women police officers in the workforce.

 The lack of women police officers comes from the belief that being in the workforce is a men’s job while others believe that women don’t have the physical strength that’s required in the force. This also leads to gender biases in the workforce. If the number of women in the police force increases, that too at a higher position a lot of cases may be handled and reported in a better manner. Although it isn’t enough, laws and inquiry committees also are required to play a significant role in making women survivors feel safe in the hands of the law.

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