Have we done enough for women’s security?

Have we done enough for women’s security?

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Rape cases continue to occur unabated in India. Despite the huge public uproar after the 16 December 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, we seem to have done precious little to improve women’s security. A detailed analysis of what we have done and what we have not done.
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The recent horrific incident of abduction, gang rape and murder of two Dalit teenage girls in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh has again shaken the whole nation. The issue of women’s security has again come to the centre-stage. Not long ago, on 16 December 2012, the Delhi gang rape case had shocked the conscious of the nation. Large-scale protests took place. Several big promises were made for taking effective remedial action to ensure women’s security. But, is there any real change in the ground situation? Have we done enough for the women’s security? Let us analyse what exactly we have done to ensure that 50% of our citizens have the basic human right of leading a normal life with dignity and do not have to face the humiliation of rapes again and again.
After the 16 December 2012 Delhi gang rape case, the Central Government setup a three-member committee under the chairmanship of late Justice JS Verma. The committee submitted its report within a period of one month. Thereafter, various legal provisions relating to offences against women were amended by passing the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, which came into effect from 2 February, 2013 (here). The definition of rape was changed by widening it to include many other facets of sexual assault within the definition of rape. Certain other changes were made in offences against women. There was enhancement of sentence/punishment for the offence of rape and for certain other offences against women. The Central Government announced creation of special Nirbhaya Fund for empowerment, safety and security of women and girl children for which an amount of Rs. 1000 crore was earmarked. Another corpus of Rs. 1000 crore was announced for the Nirbhaya Fund in the interim budget of 2014; however, it turns out that even the initial funds were not utilised (here). This clearly shows the callous attitude of the Government when it is not able to utilise the funds meant for women’s security.
In fact, even while passing the aforesaid Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the language of the newly inserted Section 166A of the IPC was changed from the one used in the Ordinance to the one used in the final Act passed by the Parliament, perhaps under pressure of some vested interests. At that time, I had written two articles that are self-explanatory (see, hereand here; in this regard, also see reference in the later part of this article to the case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1, decided by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court).
Is that all? Was anything else done? Well, the Government referred the 16 December 2012 Delhi gang rape case to a special court to expedite the trial. The trial court has already given its verdict of holding the accused persons guilty and awarding them death penalty (here). The High Court has also decided the appeal in that particular case upholding the death penalty (here). The case is now pending before the Supreme Court.
But, what happened to many other similar rape cases? Well, in certain other rape cases also (mainly those which attracted media attention), trial was referred to the fast track courts.
So, is that all? Well, it appears to be the case.
Isn’t the amendment to the rape law supposed to act like a magical wand, which will automatically solve the problem of regularly-happening incidents of rapes all over the country?
Well, it appears to be so, if one goes by the efforts made by the Government, so far, to improve the ground situation for ensuring women’s security. Nothing much has been done by the Government(s) on other fronts to tackle this problem. It is a case of no lessons learnt, or precious little having been done even if the correct lessons have been learnt.
Little does our Government realise that if by merely making a law can change the system and bring about changes in the security scenario, then by now India would have been like the heaven on the earth since we have perhaps the largest number of laws covering all facets of life; and, on a serious note, most of such laws may be well-meaning also.
Alas! The ground reality is entirely different. Making or amending laws is only one part of the story. Implementation of the existing or the new laws is altogether a different thing. And, implementation requires many things to be done, including change in attitude of various institutions and the society.
Law and order is a subject over which control has been given to the State Governments under the provisions of the Constitution. However, hardly any positive changes have been made by the State Governments to create a secure environment for women, despite the huge public protests after the 16 December 2012 gang rape incident in Delhi.
Rape is a social problem. Drastic changes in the attitude and behaviour of society and various institutions are needed to solve this problem.
Rape is also a serious crime. Drastic changes in the criminal justice system are needed to take care of such crimes.
Rape is also a question of dignity, in fact a question of basic human dignity, of 50% of the populace. It’s a question of ensuring women’s security. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to all persons to live a life with full dignity. Drastic changes are needed in the security environment within the country to take care of this issue.
In this article, I’m concentrating on the last two issues, namely changes in the criminal justice system as well as improving the overall security environment for ensuring women’s security.
I return to my original question. What have we done for women’s security? Have we done enough, given the level of public uproar that was noticed in the country after the horrifying 16 December 2012 incident in Delhi? What lessons we have learnt? What action we have taken?
As mentioned above, we made certain changes in the laws relating to rape and certain other offences against women. Unfortunately, we have done practically nothing else more than this to improve the ground situation with regard to women’s security.
Legislation is only one limb of the criminal justice system. Its other important limbs are police, judiciary and prison administration. What have we done in respect of these other limbs of the criminal justice system to improve women’s security?
Let us consider police first. Have we increased police strength? Have we, at least, filled the existing vacancies in police? Have we increased police presence on the streets? Have we trained police to deal with offences against women in a better and more efficient manner? Have we tried to bring about changes in the attitude of police towards women? Have we improved the investigation skills of police particularly for offences against women? Have we tried to introduce scientific methods of investigation in offences against women? Have we introduced police reforms in all sincerity and with all earnestness, at least those police reforms that were ordained in 2006 by the Supreme Court?
Well, the list is endless. I hope you will agree with me that we have done precious little on all these issues relating to police. In fact, there does not even appear to be any serious or special effort being made in this direction after 16 December 2012. Everything is routine, as usual. Chalta hai, attitude, as usual. As if some divine power is expected to suddenly come to our rescue and solve this problem!
Let me cover the issue of police personnel in slightly greater details. In 2010, I had filed a PIL on behalf of an NGO (namely, Lokniti Foundation) in the Supreme Court for introducing reforms in police recruitment by way of introduction of a transparent recruitment process. This was to ensure that police personnel at the lower levels are recruited in an honest, transparent, scientific, impartial manner and that the evils of corruption, nepotism, partiality and arbitrariness so rampant in various police recruitment processes are eradicated to the extent possible. The transparent recruitment process highlighted in the said PIL was in fact designed by the National Police Mission setup by the then Prime Minister as a part of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Since most of the State Governments were reluctant to implement this transparent recruitment process due to certain vested interests, the said PIL sought directions to such States to implement the same or some other similar transparent recruitment process for selecting the police personnel at the lower levels.
What happens in that PIL? Filed in 2010, we are at present in 2014. The PIL still remains in the same initial stages. The Supreme Court does not appear to be having sufficient time to hear such important issue that can have the effect of drastically improving the quality of police personnel selected in various States. You cannot expect honesty and efficiency from a policeman who was selected on payment of bribe or due to nepotism, etc. If a policeman is selected on the basis of merit in an honest and transparent manner, there is every possibility that his quality would definitely be much better and moreover, there is a much better chance of him doing his public duty with more honesty and efficiency. However, other than giving dates, nothing much has happened in the said PIL. Perhaps, the Court has its own priorities.
So, nobody is interested in improving the quality of police personnel selected through honest and transparent recruitments. State Governments are not interested. Judiciary also does not appear to be too enthusiastic.
Let me mention a word about the police strength also. In the said PIL, we had quoted the figures of vacancies in various police forces. As per those figures, a very large number of 5,30,580 vacancies were available in various state police forces (civil and armed police) as on 01.01.2009 as against the total sanctioned strength of about 20,56,041 police posts (also see, table 3.6 on page 50 of this online file). This means that more than 25% of the total police posts were vacant! So, forget increasing the police strength, as many as 25% of the total police posts were vacant!! Has the situation changed for better now? Well, this news item shows that even as on 01.01.2011, the number of vacancies in police posts was 5,02,420 from out of the total sanctioned strength of about 20,64,370. Likewise, as per this replyto a Lok Sabha question, as on 01.01.2012, the number of vacancies was 5,39,479 from out of the total sanctioned strength of about 21,24,596. And, this news report shows that even as on 01.01.2013, about 24.82% vacancies existed in the total police posts in India. I am not able to get figures for 01.01.2014. But, the fact remains that the number of vacancies have remained consistently in the range of about 25% of the total police strength.
Please keep in mind that we have a meagre police-population ratio as compared to other countries. For example, this report in Times of India shows that as per the latest Government data, the actual police-population ratio in India is only 106 police personnel for per one lakh people, as against the recommendation of 222 by the UN. And, whatever police strength is sanctioned, out of that too about 25% of the posts are vacant! How can we ensure an improved security scenario then? In fact, India is a complex country with various religious, linguistic, caste groups, with problems of illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, etc. Moreover, we have serious problems of insurgency, terrorism, Maoism, etc., in various parts of the country. We also have terrorism imported from our neighbouring countries. Therefore, our police-population ratio, in fact, should be more than what it is in other developed countries which do not face many of the problems which are peculiar to India. However, firstly our police-population ratio is quite low, and secondly there are huge number of vacancies (about 25% of the total sanctioned strength) in whatever police strength is sanctioned.
Unfortunately, nothing much had changed on ground even after 16 December 2012, notwithstanding some well-intentioned sound-bites coming from various Governments from time to time.
Last year, the Supreme Court directed the police to reduce VIP security and deploy policemen for protection of the ordinary citizens (here). Has there been any positive change in the actual deployment of police forces for the security of the common men and women? Have the police forces been able to divert their precious manpower from various kinds of security categories (Z, Z +, and so on) provided to the so-called VVIPs and VIPs and deploy them on streets for the benefit of the common people? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but the ground situation does not show any appreciable change. After all, lives of VIPs appear to be much more important than the lives (and dignity) of the humble men and women on the street!
Lesser said the better, as regards implementation of various police reforms needed to bring about a qualitative change in policing and to make police more professional. Report of the National Police Commission is now 34 years old and may be gathering further dust somewhere in the archives. Certain basic police reforms mandated in the year 2006 by the Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 1 (read here) are also now about 8 years old. In the year 2006, at the time when the said police reforms were mandated by the Supreme Court, I had written a satirical article (here) apprehending that nothing much was expected to change on the ground. I’m sorry to state that I have been proved right. I wish I were proved wrong. Most of these police reforms remain pending in most of the States, and wherever implemented, the implementation is more on paper than in real spirit. So, the ground reality remains the same. There is a crying need for reforms in police. However, again, the Supreme Court does not appear to be having sufficient time and interest to enforce certain bare minimum reforms that it had itself mandated in police departments in various States. With due respect, perhaps, the priorities are different.
What about better training to police personnel? What about change in police attitude towards women? What about improvements in investigation methods in respect of offences against women? And, so on. Well, the proof of the pudding is in its eating. Need I say more?
Before I move on, let me make a few points about the issue of mandatory registration of FIRs. It has come on record that in the aforesaid Badaun gang rape incident, there was inaction on the part of the police in taking up the investigation of the case. Perhaps, the lives of the two victims, those two innocent teenage girls, could have been saved, had the police acted well in time. Action has now been taken against a few police personnel, including sacking of two police personnel. But, is that enough, or was it timely?
Recently, in the case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1 (read here), a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held that registration of FIR under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C. is mandatory if the information given to the police discloses commission of a cognizable offence (incidentally, I had the privilege of fruitfully arguing before the Supreme Court in this case). However, unfortunately, there is always a deliberate or negligent inaction on the part of the police in registration of FIRs, including those in as grave a case as rape. In fact, due to fear of humiliation in the society, a large number of rape incidents are not reported to the police by the victims and their families themselves. You may be surprised to know that the rate of rape cases reported in India in the year 2010 was only about 1.8 per one lakh population, whereas in USA this figure was 27.3 and in UK it was 28.8 (see, here). A major explanation for this vast difference could only be gross under-reporting of rape cases in India. And, of whatever small number of rape cases are reported to the police, many are not registered by police. Due to this, the criminals involved in such offences remain unpunished and get emboldened to commit more offences of the same type. This is what was in fact noticed in the recent gang rape case of Mumbai’s Shakti Mills compound (here). This is a serious lapse on the part of the police.
In fact, the problem starts much earlier. Though not always, many a time, rape offenders would first have been involved in comparatively smaller offences against women, such as eve-teasing, outraging the modesty of women, stalking, etc. Since many of these FIRs are not registered by police, the criminals go unpunished and get emboldened to commit more similar offences, and then to commit more serious offences of the same type, including rape. There is a crying need to ensure proper registration of FIRs for such comparatively smaller offences against women. This is very important.
In this regard, let me refer to the “Broken Window” theory in criminology. This theory was first introduced by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, in an article titled “Broken Windows” that was published in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. The main theme of this theory is derived from the following example:
“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”
In fact, much before the said theory was introduced, Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford psychologist, organised an experiment in 1969 that can be said to be a sort of practical proof for the broken-window theory. He arranged for a car with no license plates and the hood up and parked it idle, i.e., abandoned it, in a Bronx neighbourhood. Another similar car in the same condition was kept idle in Palo Alto, California. The car in the Bronx was attacked within minutes of its being kept in an abandoned condition. He noticed that the first “vandals” to arrive were a family consisting of a father, mother and a young son, who took away the radiator and battery from the abandoned car. Within one day of its abandonment, everything of value had been removed from the car. After that, the car’s windows were smashed in, its parts were torn, upholstery was ripped, and then children started using the car as a playground. On the other hand, the car abandoned in Palo Alto, California remained untouched for more than a week. No damage was caused to it. Then, to experiment further, Zimbardo himself went up to the car in Palo Alto, California and deliberately smashed it with a sledgehammer, and then he left. Soon after, other people started taking part in that adventure and started destroying parts of that car. Zimbardo observed that majority of the adult “vandals” in the case of both cars were mainly well dressed and respectable people. The further explanation was that in an area such as the Bronx, where cases of abandoned property and theft were more common, vandalism occurred much faster as people generally seem indifferent. However, similar events can occur even in any civilized community (such as in Palo Alto, California) when community barriers and the sense of mutual regard and obligations of civility are lowered by actions that suggest apathy.
Later, in 1996, a detailed book with the title of “Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities” by George L. Kelling and Catharine Coles, was published based on the above article. In this book, it was suggested that a successful strategy for preventing vandalism is to fix the problems when they are small. Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage. Clean up the sidewalk every day, and the tendency is for litter not to accumulate (or for the rate of littering to be much less). Problems do not escalate and thus respectable residents do not flee a neighbourhood.
Moral of the story is that register the FIRs and take strict action against offenders involved in offences against women in the very beginning itself when they start committing comparatively smaller offences against women, such as eve-teasing, stalking, etc. If you do not take timely action in the very beginning itself, they are emboldened to commit more offences of the similar type and then more offences of serious types such as rape and gang-rape. Unfortunately, the problem in India is that even many of the rape cases are not reported or not registered, reporting and registration of comparatively minor offences against women is not at all considered important. However, herein lies the root-cause of the problem.
In a similar manner, I would say that instead of suspending or dismissing police personnel for not taking immediate action in a rape case, suspend them (and/or dismiss in appropriate cases) when they fail to take immediate and effective action in comparatively minor offences against women. Then alone would there be sufficient awareness about the seriousness of the problem with regard to offences against women. Any lenient action in matters of deliberate or grossly negligent lapses of police personnel in any type of offences against women emboldens them and makes them immune to the seriousness of the issue. Exemplary action in a small incident itself would send the alarm bells ringing.
Unless police personnel are sufficiently sensitised about he seriousness of the issue relating to offences against women, by way of exemplary action against defaulters and by way of educating and training them generally, women will continue to feel insecure and it would be difficult to prevent offences against them.
Well, let me now turn to the next wing of the criminal justice system, namely, the judiciary. Nothing much has changed in the judiciary after the 16 December 2012 incident. Only some cosmetic changes were made. For example, in the Supreme Court, certain offences against women were heard on priority basis for a few months. Similarly, some rape cases were referred to the fast track courts for conducting expeditious trials and a few new trial courts might have been designated in some States for conducting the trial of the rape cases. And, may be a few other similar changes, which are not expected to have lasting impact on the ground situation with regard to offences against women.
There are no drastic improvements in the strength of the judiciary. No substantial improvements in the number of pending cases and likewise no noticeable improvements in the number of years that a criminal case takes for its disposal. Merely expediting the trial of a few rape cases is not going to solve the problem of women’s security. As mentioned above, the broken window theory shows that a lot more is desired to expedite the trial of several other types of cases also which may be minor in nature but which are very crucial to ensure that each and every “broken window” is repaired at the very earliest so that there is an overall improvement in the security scenario. Unless the general lawlessness existing in the society is controlled by an effective and expeditious justice delivery system, and unless the rule of law is established fully by ensuring that those who commit crimes are punished with certainty and promptness, it may not be possible to ensure a secure environment for the women in isolation.
The judge-population ratio in India is quite poor as compared with many other countries. The Supreme Court has itself emphasised the need to increase the strength of the judiciary five-fold. For example, see the case of All India Judges’ Assn. v. Union of India, (2002) 4 SCC 247 : AIR 2002 SC 1752, in which the Supreme Court directed that the then existing judge-population ratio of 10.5 or 13 judges per one million population be raised to 50 (i.e., about 5 times) in five years. However, nothing much has happened on this count. From time to time, in various reported cases, the Supreme Court has been merely highlighting the need for expediting disposal of cases. In fact, right to speedy trial has been recognised as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution [see, Hussainara Khatoon (I) v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, (1980) 1 SCC 81 at pp. 88-89 : AIR 1979 SC 1360 : 1979 Cri LJ 1036]. Nonetheless, this so-called fundamental right remains only on paper. Barring some exceptions, the Supreme Court has rarely interfered in cases where there are long delays in completion of the trial. In fact, recently in the case of Ranjan Dwivedi v. CBI, (2012) 8 SCC 495 : AIR 2012 SC 3217 : 2012 Cri LJ 4206, even a delay of 37 years in the completion of the trial was considered not to be a violation of the right to speedy trial.
It is worth mentioning that delayed justice is no justice at all. Delay in completion of trial is usually prejudicial to the interests of the prosecution, of the society, and of the victims of crimes. Depending upon facts and circumstances of the case concerned, delay in the trial may sometimes help the accused persons while in some other cases it may be against the interests of the accused persons as well. However, the fact remains that usually delay in trial makes it comparatively more difficult for the prosecution to prove its case against the accused persons. Recently, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the case of State of W.B. v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, (2010) 3 SCC 571 : AIR 2010 SC 1476, has held that a victim of a crime also has a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution to have a fair and impartial investigation.
This being the legal position, it is of utmost necessity that prosecution of criminal cases is completed expeditiously without any unnecessary delay, and likewise appeals/revision in such cases should also be disposed of expeditiously. However, more than two crore criminal cases are pending in different courts for last so many years and nothing much has been done to improve this pendency situation.
The only and only solution that can work to clear this huge pendency is creation of more courts by drastic improvements in the strength of the judiciary. As mentioned above, while the Supreme Court has been emphasising again and again the need to improve the strength of the judiciary, nothing much has been done in this regard. It is surprising that the Supreme Court, which is never found wanting in ensuring compliance of its directions given to the Government in other matters, does not enforce its directions to increase the strength of the judiciary by compelling the Government to do the needful.
It may also be noteworthy that looking at the size of Indian economy, the requirement of funds for drastically increasing the strength of the judiciary may not be substantial. At present, the strength of the lower judiciary in India is about 18,000. In my book, “Law of Bail, Bonds, Arrests and Custody” [2009 edition; published by LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur, New Delhi (ISBN: 978-81-8038-440-0)], I had mentioned that as per a news report published in the Times of India in the year 2007 [see, Govt needs to invest in infrastructure of courts”, Times of India, November 30, 2007; click here to read it online; also see, “Timely justice at Re 1 per head per month”, Times of India, November 30, 2007], for appointing 10,000 new judges the estimated expenditure was only about Rs. 1426 crore per year, which at the current prices in 2014 cannot be expected to exceed Rs. 3000 crore per year, which means that for about 20,000 new judges the expenditure may be about Rs. 6000 crore per year. India spends more than Rs. 3,00,000 crore per year on various subsidies, many of which are unnecessary and wasteful subsidies. For example, the total subsidy bill for the financial year 2013-14 is expected to be about Rs. 3,60,000 crore (see here). Can’t we spend Rs. 6000 crore per year for doubling the strength of the judiciary? It is pertinent to mention that in the aforesaid news report in Times of India, the then Chief Justice of India had stated that all the pendency of criminal cases in the trial courts could be cleared in one year if 18,479 more judges were appointed. So, all criminal cases pending for 10 years, 20 years and more, could be disposed of within a period of one year only, if about 20,000 more judges are appointed at an annual expenditure of Rs. 6000 crore. Is it asking for too much to spend this much amount for a country of the size of India? [Update: In view of queries made by some esteemed readers, I may clarify that this approximate figure of Rs. 6000 crore per year, includes not only the expenditure for 20,000 more judges but also the expenditure for 60,000 more court staff (at the rate of 3 new staff members for each new judge) and other relevant office expenses.]
Thus, it is clear that what is perhaps needed is the will power to strengthen the judiciary and drastically improve the situation with regard to large pendency of criminal cases in various courts. Money should not be a restraint, and in any case, as mentioned above, the expenditure required for this purpose would only be a fraction of the mostly wasteful expenditure that is incurred by the Government of India on various types of subsidies every year.
It is only when we ensure expeditious disposal of criminal cases that we can ensure the real rule of law. Certainty and promptness in delivering justice can only lead to faith in the judicial system. Then only would the criminals develop fear of law. Then only we can have overall safety and security for the citizenry, including women’s security. Just referring a few high-profile rape cases to fast track courts would not solve the problem, when vast number of other cases against women (and, other cases) remain pending for decades. Remember the theory of “broken window”?

Unfortunately, nothing much has been done on this front even after 16 December 2012 even though most of the remedies needed should be quite obvious.There is also a need for conducting sensitisation programmes to change the attitude of judges (and the advocates) with regard to offences against women, though, to be fair, this problem is more at the level of lower judiciary than the higher judiciary, and though this problem is not as acute in judiciary as it is in police. There are reports of cases in which a rape victim would be ridiculed during trial or would be so harassed by consistent impertinent questioning that she ultimately gives in, leading to deficiencies in prosecution evidence. The insensitivity in offences against women, including serious cases of gang rape, is seen sometimes (luckily, on rare occasions only) even in the highest court of the land; for example, see one of my previous articles in which I had explained how even the Supreme Court had casually considered a gang rape case and had drastically reduced the sentence awarded to the rapists in a gang rape case (even below the minimum prescribed under law) without adequate and reasonable cause.

Having covered in detail police and judiciary wings of the criminal justice system, I’m not going to cover prison administration in this article, which though is also a part of the criminal justice system, is comparatively less relevant for the purposes of the present discussion.
Before I complete this article, I may also referred to one important aspect of offences against women, especially in the rural India. Absence of sufficient toilet facilities in individual houses, or at least the absence of community toilet facilities close to the populated areas of the villages, leads to women going to isolated and insecure places outside the villages for relieving themselves. Due to privacy issues, it is not possible for the women in rural areas to go to open spaces closer to the populated areas of the villages for relieving themselves; for this purpose, they are required to go to isolated areas outside the villages. This often leads to serious security concerns for the women. This is what actually happened in the aforementioned Badaun gang rape case to the two unfortunate victims. Absence of sufficient toilet facilities in India is really a serious health hazard, leading to various diseases especially affecting the children. The enormity of the problem can easily be estimated when we look at the hard facts, as per which approximately 50% of our population (about 59.4 crore people, as estimated by UNICEF) does not have toilet facilities in their houses (see, here). As seen in the aforementioned gang rape case, absence of toilet facilities in individual houses or absence of community toilet facilities close to the populated areas of the villages, also have security hazard for the women in addition to the health hazard for the citizens as a whole. During his election campaign in the recently concluded 2014 Lok Sabha elections, our new Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had emphasised the importance of providing toilet facilities to each household in the country. It is right time to implement this promise on priority basis.
I have confined this article to the improvements needed in the criminal justice system to improve women’s security in India. There is no doubt that many other changes are needed in the society, such as the need for positive change in attitude of male citizens towards women, the need for educating people (especially, at the younger stage itself) to respect the dignity of the women, etc. There is also a need for change in the way media portrays women for their commercial benefits. The attitudinal changes in the mind-set of the people will perhaps require more time since it is a slow process. However, the changes in the criminal justice system can be made quickly if the Government has the will power to do so. So far, the experience has shown that the response of the Central Government as well as that of the State Governments has been dismal and anything but inspiring, notwithstanding the fact that, of late, there has been huge public uproar against offences against women. It is for the society to persuade and force the Government(s) to bring about improvements in the criminal justice system on priority basis for overall security in general and for women’s security in particular.
[Credits: Contents of the “Broken Window” theory have been taken and adapted from Wikipedia.]

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