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A rape victim's legal rights

There are so many rape cases which still go unreported, mainly because of the stigma in our society associated with a rape victim.

A rape victims legal rights

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Jan 2023 11:11 AM GMT

Rape cases in India are increasing by the day, and the figures are getting worse. According to the annual report of the National Crime Bureau, in 2018 around 94000 cases of rape were filed in India. It means that in every 15 minutes, one rape is committed in India. In 2021, the figure stands at 31,667. This is just the official data.

There are so many rape cases which still go unreported, mainly because of the stigma in our society associated with a rape victim. They suppress the matter because of family pressure and for the fear of slander. Many a times, the victims are blackmailed by the perpetrator and because of this fear they do not have the courage to voice the injustice done to them. Filing a rape case takes a lot of courage, and it marks the choice of the victim to stand against her perpetrator to book him under law. The legal definition of rape and its punishment is provided under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which has gone through many amendments to keep up with the changing times. According to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, rape is a sexual intercourse by a man with a woman against her will or without her permission or content. In India, the victims of rape have been guaranteed six important rights. These are:

Right to zero FIR

Right to zero FIR means, a person can file an FIR in any police station irrespective of the Jurisdiction in where the incident occurred. The same FIR will be later transferred to the police station under whose jurisdiction the investigation will take place. The concept of zero FIR came into force after the Nirbhaya case. The justice Verma Committee introduced the concept of zero FIR in their report findings. The concept of zero FIR was also supported by The Ministry of Home Affairs.

Free Medical Treatment in any private hospital

Section 375 C of the Criminal Procedure Code lays down that a victim of rape will not be charged any fee for her treatment by private or government hospital. All the hospitals, be it a private or a government hospital shall provide first aid to the victims immediately without charging any fee. If a hospital is found demanding a fee for the treatment of a rape victim, they will be liable for punishment under Section 16B of the India Penal Code.

No two-finger test during the medical examination

No doctor has the right to do a two-finger test while doing medical examination of the rape victim. The Section 164 A of the Code of Criminal Procedure has laid down provisions on how to prepare the medical report and what will be written under the report. A two-finger test and its interpretation violated the right of a rape survivor to privacy, dignity and mental integrity. And hence it is deemed illegal. The doctor only has to check whether the victim has injury in her private parts and is she really a victim of rape, or is there any visible sign of recent sexual activity. The doctor has no right to dig into the past activity of the victim.

Time-bound police and harassment free investigation

Section 154(1) of CrPC states that the statement of a rape victim will be recorded by a women police officer or any officer which the victim feels or decides is favourable to her. The victim also has the right to fix the place to record her statements according to her convenience. The officer will record the statement of the victim in the presence of her guardian or parents. A Magistrate shall also record the statement as per Section 164(5-A) in the chamber of the magistrate. The purpose of doing this is to check whether the police officer has recorded the statements correctly or not. Analyzer Educator Social Interpretation will be on hand to interpret the indications if a rape victim is too dumb or mentally impaired to articulate the incident. This is done mainly so that the victim does not have to narrate the incident again in the trial court. In the court, the statement given by the victim will be finalised and it will also not violate the right to privacy of the victims.

Trail with speed and protection and full dignity

According to Section 26 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman judge must preside over the court during the trial. In addition, the victim shall not be asked any questions that reflect negatively on her character. Any question about prior sexual activity is irrelevant, according to Section 53A of the Indian Evidence Act.

The investigation and trial of rape shall be done in camera, according to Section 327(2) of the CrPC and the victim's statement to the magistrate must be kept confidential. Further, according to CrPC section 173(1A), an investigation must be finished within two months of the day the information was recorded.

The victim and the witness will be given protection by the court so that they are safe from harm. Additionally, it is the police's duty to pick up the victim from her house and return her there after the trial. In order to prevent a confrontation between the victim and the rapist, separate waiting areas have been created in the court.

Right to compensation

The victim compensation plan is outlined in a new provision found in Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The victim will receive compensation under this programme in the amount of a minimum of 4 lakh rupees and a maximum of 7 lakh rupees. If the court determines that the victim's compensation is insufficient, it may enhance the sum in light of the circumstances.

Rape is a heinous crime that affects the entire life of the victim. In a culture that values literacy, we are supposed to uphold our moral principles and keep our dignity but such a crime reflects the dark future of our country. The maintenance of peace and order in a society where every girl may live without fear of being raped is not just the government's job; it is also our obligation.

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