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30 Mar 2020, 03:05 HRS IST
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  • PTI
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    • Features
  • Patriarchy and poor conviction, policing behind rape: Experts
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  • 's body and raping her for hours in a gang.

    Sometimes, the rapists act under the influence of alcohol or substance abuse, which Desai describes as "a ready recipe" for such crimes.

    But the experts stress there are larger issues at play here - such as ingrained patriarchal values.

    A male-dominated society "is not comfortable around an independent woman", says Supreme Court lawyer Shilpi Jain.

    "When men see an independent woman, it hurts their ego. So this is a way of overpowering her, to show her that 'you are under our control', to send a message to women that they may lead independent lives but if men want to control them, they can," says the defence lawyer, who  fought the Bitti Mohanty case, in which a senior police officer's son was convicted of raping a German woman.

    What confounds activists and law-enforcement agencies is that strict laws - which include death - do not seem to deter the perpetrators.

    Mumbai-based psychologist Harish Shetty blames delayed convictions for this.

    "If you hear that for a rape, a person is convicted in a month's time, then it has an impact. But a death sentence after 20 years makes no sense," Shetty says.

    He adds that while there is more awareness about the law, "it has no teeth" unless judgements are on time.

    "Acquittals are very high and convictions are very low," he adds.

    The NCRB report shows a conviction rate of 21.7 per cent in crimes against women in India during 2015. It means more than 7 out of 10 people accused of such crimes walked free.

    The December 16, 2012, case - when a physiotherapy intern was brutally raped and killed by a gang of men - evoked such nationwide horror that a court had sentenced the adult men to death in nine months.

    But this was a rare instance. A 13-year-old girl from Lucknow, who was gang raped in 2005, waited for 11 years for a verdict. The rape of a minor by two presidential guards in 2003 reached a trial court only in 2009.

    Jain believes the situation can change only if there is a"complete overhaul" of police structures that allow probes by the lowest rungs of officials. She also suggests expedition of cases in courts.

    Former Mumbai Police Joint Commissioner (Crime) M N Singh stresses the need for a "systemic change" to instill fear which he believes will act as a deterrent.

    To prevent

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