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Should a man acquitted of rape be addressed as a ‘rape case survivor’?

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By NewsGram staff writer

A trial court in Delhi recently expressed concern over society’s behavior towards the men who are accused of rape but are later found to be innocent. Additional Sessions Judge, Nivedita Anil Sharma, made this observation while acquitting a Haryana resident who was framed for raping a divorcee. She later withdrew her statement. The court further questioned whether the acquitted can be called a ‘rape case survivor.’

“In the circumstances, should an acquitted accused, who has remained in custody for a considerable period during trial and who has been acquitted honorably after prosecutrix deposed that he has not raped her and she had physical relations with him with her free consent, be now addressed as a rape case survivor? This leaves us with much to ponder about present day situation of veracity of rape cases,” the court asked.

The court further added, “Today there is public outrage and a hue and cry is being raised everywhere that courts are not convicting rape accused. However, no man, accused of rape, can be convicted if the witnesses do not support the prosecution case or give quality evidence, as in the present case where the prosecutrix is hostile.”

Despite being acquitted by the court, the ‘accused’ is treated differently by the society.  With the media continuously reporting on the case, resuming life can be a mammoth task for the ‘accused.’

NewsGram spoke with people to ascertain their views on the observation of the trial court. However, most of them were of the opinion that the word ‘survivor’ should be restricted to the person who has suffered sexual abuse.

“I don’t think that there should be a word like ‘rape case survivor’ for the people who are acquitted from the crime. The correct word to use would be ‘innocent’. The word ‘survivor’ should be restricted only to victims,” said Aapurv Jain, a final year student from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University (DU) who is also a part a Gender Studies Group at DU.

“We need to understand that to be accused for something, dragged through months or years of psychological and social turmoil and by the time one is proven innocent, his image is tarnished beyond repair. This is a sensitive issue. Such misery for an innocent person can be avoided if the court can pronounce speedy judgment,” said Upasana Iyer, a student from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

“From all the terms you could think of, survivor does not fit in. In such a case, rape survivor simply sounds wrong.  It can be someone who has been a victim and has fought back. Rape survivor as a term is very sympathetic and is driven towards the victim more than the acquitted. I agree that the man will be treated differently. It is even possible that if any such incident occurs in his neighborhood, he will be questioned,” said Janhavi Karkera, an advertising professional.

“Off late, we have been hearing about false rape cases and I sympathize with these innocent men. But their ordeal is nothing compared to the victim. The survivor word should solely be reserved for the victims,” said Meena Yadav, an artist.

“Even if a man is falsely accused of rape, it takes a certain frame of time before he is proven not guilty. Until then, the man is ‘demonized’ by the media. With the reach of social media, his entire reputation goes for a toss. His dignity needs to be restored. Although, I don’t think that survivor would be a correct word to use,” said Cyrus Dastur, founder, SHAMIANA short film club.

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Don’t Play Politics With Rape Incidents

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Now even the rape case is taken as a mean for those political ends. Therefore, any incidents of rape are interpreted and handled in unethical ways.
Bollywood actresses showing their anger against the Kathua Rape Case victim

– Salil Gewali, Shillong

Most of the political moves in the world are guided by self-interest. Here the human prudence is just trampled over and thus many hearts are hurt.  This fact is true to the letter in the Indian political sphere. Yes, our leaders easily trade their souls to meet their ends.  National interests are just bet — even with the enemy fold. Media and celebrities are often used for the job.  What more, even education is politicized, radically distorted to fit in with the “mission”.

Now even the rape case is taken as a mean for those political ends. Therefore, any incidents of rape are interpreted and handled in unethical ways. The moment a rape occurs, the political leaders take sides accordingly, so also the media. The Kathua rape had become a case of crises for the ruling party. It was a low point between the opposition parties and the government. The opposition leaders hurled the criticism against the BJP.  But it’s becoming much clearer now that the case was specifically “used” as a tool to sever the bond between the Hindu and the Muslim for the political gain. All available methods were tactfully employed then to defame the government, nay even the nation. What harm it has done is beyond the mental calculation.

Now even the rape case is taken as a mean for those political ends. Therefore, any incidents of rape are interpreted and handled in unethical ways.
Media is not highlighting the rape cases properly. Pixabay

Please look at the following cases which did not prompt such drama, though much more serious then the Kathus’s case. Very recently a gruesome rape was committed in Nadia district, West Bengal by a TMC activist Sheikh Bappa where a six-month pregnant relative of a BJP candidate was the victim. But no such uproar heard. In another appalling case, a Maulavi sexually abused “six children” at a Madrassa in Telangana.  But can you believe, this case totally failed to evoke the sympathy of so-called great people, nor did the media carry the news? All columnists went into hibernation. But why? Again, in Jharkhand, one dairy owner Ashif Iqbal raped his employee, tried to convert her to Islam by forcefully making her eat beef. He also threatened to kill her girl child. It never became an issue. Have you heard that another Kathua-like case happened in Khajuraho at Rajnagar about two weeks back? But no media thought it is worth the tears of the country’s citizens as an Asifa’s case.  This sadistic crime on a 3-year-old girl was committed by 19-year-old Tauhid Khan. Police have filed a case against Tauhid Khan.  Why are this time Bollywood stars not beating the breast and condemning the crime? Why are there “different prisms” to look at the same kind of crimes? Is this not a very dangerous trend? Please book the criminals who are raping the society.