I Think: India’s biggest ‘rape problem’ is the slow judicial process

SK, software engineer, Delhi

Photo: Asavari Singh

I read the news regularly, and get most of it online. I don’t usually read the stories on sexual violence because they are just so sad, but I am glad they are being written about.

The media is making a positive impact by reporting so frequently on sexual violence. Seeing the number of stories makes us aware of the magnitude of the problem, even if we don’t read each story. Earlier, these issues used to be swept under the carpet, and thus there was no motivation to bring about a change.

What the media gets wrong is its excessive focus on the death penalty, the quantum of punishment in individual cases. What they need to be looking at is the bigger picture: the thoroughness (or not) of investigations, the unacceptably slow judicial process, the low conviction rates. Making a brouhaha over the occasional death sentence will not help thousands of others who are waiting for their turn to be heard.

Yes, the media does have the power to impact the legislation, as we saw in the Nirbhaya case. But is that enough? We can make law after law, but what are they worth if they are not put into action? We should change the conversation to processes for justice rather than punishment. That’s where you need to direct your activism.

Reporters should highlight cases that have been pending for too long, where the victims and the accused are languishing in the system endlessly.

India’s real ‘rape problem’ is what happens to victims after the crime. You see rapes happening in the USA, in Europe too, but the difference is that there you have a far more effective judicial machinery. Highlight that. Let the world see that and put pressure on the government.