UPSC Exam Preparation: Summary of The Big Picture: Is Indian society insensitive to rising number of stalking cases?
- Recently in Chandigarh, daughter of a bureaucrat was allegedly chased and terrorized by the Haryana B.J.P chief’s son and his friends.
- The woman has accused the men of stalking and trying to abduct her by blocking the way and trying to open the door of her car.
- Police sources have confirmed that the chase is recorded on CCTV and the footage establishes active pursuit.
- The accused were arrested but let off within hours as stalking is a bail able offence and the police did not add kidnapping (sec 365) which is a non-bail able offence in the FIR.
- Many political leaders and important personalities have resorted to victim shaming and have questioned the motive and character of the victim instead of criticizing the event in the harshest of words.
- In this background we shall discuss if Indian society is insensitive to rising number of stalking cases?
- After the Nirbhaya rape case a three member Committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.
- As per the recommendations of the Verma committee, criminal law amendment act, 2013 was passed.
- This act recognized that rape is the final act and there are several other crimes that precede rape.
- Besides rape, the act also recognizes and defines several other assaults against women such as throwing acid or attempt to throw acid, Sexual Harassment, Voyeurism and stalking and has made them punishable offences.
- Stalking is defined as following a women or trying to contact her for personal reasons, despite the disinterest of a woman , following her or monitoring her on internet, email or any other such media.
- Punishment for stalking is maximum jail term of 3 years.
- Stalking is a very serious issue faced by many women in our country which is not taken seriously and is considered as normal or routine.
- As per the available data, the number of stalking cases is on the rise over the years.
- One of the major reasons for the growing number of stalking cases is insensitivity of the society towards the issue.
- There is no collective will to stop those who outrage the modesty of women. Every attempt to outrage the modesty of women should be taken very seriously by the society.
- The conscience of the society awakens only when a incident which is very gruesome or heinous happens. Even the incidents of stalking should be taken seriously. Otherwise this might endanger the dignity and life of women.
For example, in the Priyadarshini Matoo case , the victim was stalked for months before being raped and murdered.
- Another major reason is the insensitivity of political parties, judiciary and police in dealing with the issues of stalking.
- Leaders of many political parties have given irresponsible statements w.r.t the menace of stalking.
- In many cases the police have refused to register the case and in some cases have diluted the FIR in favor of the accused.
- The criminal law amendment act has made stalking a bail-able offence in the first instance and non-bail-able offence from the instance. This endangers the victim’s life.
- There is an urgent need for change in the social mindset and attitude and there should be zero tolerance towards the incidents of stalking.
- Political parties have a major role to play in leading the way. They should take strict actions against party members who are involved in these kinds of acts and also those who support them.
- Reforms in judiciary and the police are the need of the hour. Police should be sensitized about the issues faced by women. Strict action should be taken against the officers who are not earnest in fulfilling their duties when it comes to the matters of women.
- The judiciary also should engage more proactively in the matters related to women. Cases related to assaults against women should be heard on priority basis.
- Stalking should be made a non-bail-able offence in the very first instance.
- The grand dream of gender equality and women empowerment is meaningless and absurd when women can’t even roam around freely without the fear of harassment. We all must work towards building a crime free and civil India for all.