Rapes in India: Cops at wits end over ‘technical’ problem

Jul 02 2014, 15:05 IST
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SummaryBattling a surge in rape complaints, police officers point to what they call ‘technical rapes’

manner to ensure courts take cognisance of the rape sections registered, with equal effort put on a detailed chargesheet in court.

All of the efforts, however, are seldom fruitful as most of these cases fall through either due to lack of enough evidence (most of these cases criminal lawyers say fail the medical test) or because the victim and the complainant either get married or decide to settle the matter amicably, police say.

Mumbai police, which registered the second highest number of rape cases after the national capital in the last three years, have been studying the nature of crimes against women since the 2012 Shakti Mills gangrape. In crime conferences this year, the concerns raised were on the nature of evidence that needs to be collected for such crime complaints, where the witnesses are suspected to back out later.

“During a recent review, I found that of all the 258 cases of rape under review, some 190 cases were of technical nature,” says Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria.

The most common kind under this category is the one where a man and a woman, and sometimes a teenage girl, have consensual intercourse more than once over a period of time. In half of these cases, this intercourse happens because the man has promised to marry the girl. According to senior police officers, charges of cheating and fraud are also pressed besides rape charges in such cases.

“The toughest part of investigation in such cases is the medical evidence, which is otherwise regarded to be one of the crucial parts of evidence in rape cases. In a rape case, we subject the victim to medical tests at the Nagpada Police Hospital to confirm assault and test for DNA evidence. In such technical cases, however harsh it may sound, since the consensual intercourse has occurred several times over a period of months or even years, there is no DNA evidence to confirm that the accused named in the FIR is the one who has had intercourse with the woman. We then have to rely on other aspects of investigation, like statements of people who know the couple and were aware of their relationship, and family members of the victim and the accused,” says a senior police officer.

Another officer says securing a conviction in such cases is even harder. “The complainant and the accused reach a settlement, after which the complainant loses interest in

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