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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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Smog In New Delhi Clears After Rain, AQI Remains ‘Very Poor’

Despite the pollution, there is little sign Delhi’s 20 million residents are taking steps to protect themselves.

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Smog, delhi
A man rides a motorcycle on a morning thick with smog on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Jan. 5, 2019. A Sunday morning rain improved the air quality to "very poor." VOA

A rainy spell early Sunday brought better air to residents of New Delhi, giving them a brief respite from thick gray smog that has shrouded the Indian capital for the last two months, although air quality continued to be “very poor.”

A measure of tiny, hazardous breathable particles known as PM 2.5 reached an average of 182 by 12 p.m., the Central Pollution Control Board said, its lowest since Nov. 4.

But the pollution level was still five times more than a U.S. government recommended level of 35 to stand at “unhealthy” levels, according to the U.S. embassy.

Problem not solved

“Change in weather conditions by rain or higher wind speed helps dissipate peak pollution, but we continue to need strong emergency actions such as shutting power plants,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of the Center for Science and Environment think-tank.

Delhi, air pollution, cold, smog
People take early morning walk amid smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. In the Indian capital, the air quality hovered between severe and very poor this week posing a serious health hazard for millions of people. VOA

The federal government air quality index rated Delhi’s air quality “very poor” Sunday and had a similar forecast for Monday, urging people with respiratory and cardiac problems to avoid polluted areas and limit outdoor movement.

A sharp drop in temperatures and wind speed over the last two weeks, combined with vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from building sites and smoke from garbage burning has stoked pollution over much of north India.

Dangerous particles

Levels of PM 2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, hit their highest last year at 450Dec. 23.

Also Read:Toxic Air of Delhi Prompting People To Quit City

Despite the pollution, there is little sign Delhi’s 20 million residents are taking steps to protect themselves.

Activists say the apparent lack of concern gives politicians the cover they need for not tackling the issue adequately. (VOA)