Lifestyle & Belief

WomanBeat: Harrowing saga of India's rape trials

It is a miracle that anyone reports a rape to the police in India, based on this harrowing portrait from Tehelka of the further abuses perpetrated in the name of the law. 

But the contrast between this grim picture and the paternalism of Indian divorce law -- which (in a sense) seeks to keep women in bad marriages to protect them from society's outrages says a lot about the Indian state's archaic views on women.

It's worth reading the whole article, but here's an excerpt that indicates how bad things remain:

After a few moments, the compounder looked up at the waiting room and shouted, “kiska rape hua hai? Andar chalo.” Divya stood up and followed her in. “I remember that as the point at which I ceased to exist as Divya and became the ‘rape victim’. That’s what everyone called me. The orderlies at the hospital, the court staff, the media.” she says. She was asked to remove her clothes and lie down so the attending gynaecologist could examine her. The doctor took notes of the various scratches, bite marks and bruises on her body. She roughly inserted a speculum in her vagina, without prior warning or an explanation as to why this was a necessary part of the proceedings — Divya, a virgin till two days ago, who had been brutally raped, whose vagina was torn from the violation she had suffered — screamed out in pain. “Chup kar” the doctor said before taking a swab. On the MLC, the doctor stated that the patient was 'uncooperative' with the examiner, but the certificate established that she had been raped. Later, the doctor revoked her statement and denied her own handwriting on the document. Divya's lawyers filed an appeal — the doctor had clearly been bought. Shortly after, the original medical certificate that AIIMS gave Divya, confirming rape, ‘disappeared’ from her file in the lower courts.

Believe it or not, matters only get worse at the trial. But can we expect much more from a court system that only now is considering amendments to the divorce law, such as allowing women to sue for property rights as well as alimony, that will facilitate their escape from bad marriages? So far the answer to "protecting" women has been to condemn both them and their husbands to eternal damnation in their miserable marriages, simply because society at large has no use for single women.