22 March, 2016

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Crime Against Women - Statistics, Worries and Dilemmas

*** Special Feature - March 2016 ***

Crime Against Women—Statistics, Worries and Dilemmas

National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) places the total number of cases of crime against women at 3,37,922 in 2014. Such cases have grown at a compounded annual rate of 12.2% since 2010 when the total was 2,13,585. The increase is, without doubt, alarming. But how do we interpret the data? Are women no longer safe? Or is there an increase in the reporting of crimes? If it is the latter, does it not reflect on the resilience of the modern day woman, her determination to bring the perpetrators to book and her confidence in the system?
Truth obviously lies somewhere in-between.
The same NCRB report puts the conviction rate in the crime against women at 21.3%. This is not even 1/3rd of the average conviction rate of all cognizable offences. The question that daunts us is: Are many of these charges frivolous that they don’t stand in a court of law? Or the excruciating journey through of labyrinth of the judiciary frustrates prompt delivery of justice?
Truth obviously lies somewhere in-between.
Talking of the labyrinth of the judiciary, I am reminded of the travails of a former KPMG director, who has been fighting a case of sexual harassment against her employer for nearly a decade now. This report in Livemint traces the movements of the case back and forth between Maharashtra State Commission for Women, National Commission for Women, and Bombay High Court. And remember she was no ordinary woman. She was a director in a multinational audit firm. If the journey could be so frustrating for someone like her, imagine the plight of an ordinary woman.
The same Livemint report also makes two more points that are important:
1.   The judicial delays force the complainants to approach media in the hope of getting quicker justice. And how has the media conducted itself while dealing with such cases? Irresponsibly, is perhaps the right answer. It takes an extreme position in support of the complainant. It does not offer the accused a chance to defend himself. Be it the Rohtak sisters’ case or the Jasleen Kaur issue, the media’s role has left a lot to be desired. In fact, a prominent TV channel was asked to apologise for the Jasleen Kaur story.
2.   The law relating to sexual harassment and other crimes against women is heavily biased in favour of the complainant. The burden of proof is on the man— he has to prove he is not guilty; this according to the report could result in false complaints. A report in Firstpost explains how the anti dowry law is being misused.
Now, juxtapose the above information with what happens in Sesha’s life in my novel Surpanakha. His wife Mythili meets with a serious accident at the airport and undergoes a major surgery. Immobilized for a more than a month, she is put under the care of a home nurse.
After two years, the nurse alleges sexual harassment by Sesha. When does she make the allegation? In the immediate aftermath of a judgement, that acquits Sesha from a hate crime. Where she does make the charge? In front of a TV camera. And who support the nurse in her cause? The same people who levelled the hate crime charge against Sesha.
Sadagopan, a retired cop and a close family friend of Mythili, quips, ‘An activist, a celebrity lawyer and a news anchor make a deadly combination.’ Is he stating the truth or having been a policeman all through his life, is he biased against human rights activists? Is Sesha guilty or is he innocent?

Truth, as mentioned earlier, is somewhere in-between.

About the Author:
Hariharan is a finance professional by default and a writer by choice. Not content with just a rewarding corporate job, he took to writing a couple of years ago. He blogged on media and current affairs for a year at valadyviews.blogspot.com before hitting on the idea for this novel. 
Strangely, he got the idea for his first novel while reading the balance sheets of a few NGOs and corporates! An idea so powerful that it convinced the accountant in him that he could put together not just a balance sheet but an intriguing political thriller as well. Indian cinema over the last many decades has created many stereotypes— ‘Media crusades against anything bad’, ‘netas are, without a doubt, evil’ and ‘human rights activists are God’s gift to earth’ to name a few. What if any of these stereotypes is wrong— What if a human rights activist, consumed by personal frustration, tries to bring down an elected government? What if media plays the role of pliable ally? What if a politician is a victim of circumstances? 
Answers to these what ifs, his wife’s challenge to write a novel out of them and about nine months’ of labour produced Surpanakha.
Hariharan lives with his wife in Dar es Salaam while his two sons are pursuing their ambitions in India. 
Contact Hariharan:
Facebook |Twitter | Blog 

About the Book
Educated, young, no-nonsense bearing, able administrator—these are the qualities that won Sesha the loyalties of the people after three years of rule as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. An allegation that he was the mastermind behind the murder of 73 Kannadigas threatens to bring him down but he is miraculously saved in the 11th hour.

Even before he can relish his victory, Sesha is slapped with the charge of sexually offending a young nurse. This time round, the case is strong and his supporters are uncertain. Worse, his teenage daughter calls him 'vile' and walks out of the house. While Mythili, his wife promises her full support, her secretive activities—undertaken with the help of a retired cop—is a cause of concern for Sesha.

Will Zarina, the human-rights activist, succeed in bringing him down? What about the insinuations of a celebrity lawyer that he is casteist and anti-minorities? When the young nurse is found dead, the case becomes even more complex. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And who is the mastermind?   

Buy Links:
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1 comment:

  1. Wow! Those were some shocking and scary stats! This book sounds like a very interesting read. Looking forward to checking out this book.