Dear Justice Verma,
The outrage will not stop until steps are taken. The politicians have failed. The Justice System of India needs to take charge. Here are a few things you can promise the citizens of India. Do so now. The revolution has begun.
10 Point Plan to Keep Women Safe:
1. Sensitize the Police – When a rape victim comes to the police station, have a female counselor sit with her alone to record the sequence of events. The officer should not rush the victim or ask details before she has finished. Make a list of relevant questions that can be asked after she finishes speaking. Offer the victim support, food, a shawl to cover herself. Send the recorded statement to the male police officers immediately to arrest the named if any. Keep a female officer with her that night at the hospital. Offer her the best care.
2. Non Bailable Offence - Keep the man for a week before he can apply for bail. For all other sexual offenders – even for whistling, groping and leering, make it a severe action of at least stay in jail for one night before they can apply for bail. Make the bail high so it’s not easy to get away so easily.
3. Stop Selling Acid - Women are scared of attacks if they protest. They fear repercussion if they speak out. Give the women who have reported a rape security for some time. Stop selling harmful, toxic substances over the counter. The friends of the accused feel they can take revenge as well. Make sure the accuser’s friends, family and everyone have their picture and ids at the station with a strict warning that if anything happens to the girl, they will all be arrested.
4. More Female Officers - Have a female officer in every bus route, train after 7 pm – all over India. If there aren’t enough female officers, start recruiting immediately. Start getting female IPS officers to oversee who they trust on each route. If they are male officers – their name must be made mandatory for reporting in and reporting out time on each route.
5. Fast courts for Sexual Abuse – Find the accused but also send him to as faster trial. Confiscate his passport, documents of driving, etc so he cannot live a complete life. Start trial within a month. Sentence within 45 days. Do not let any accused be set free to do what he has done again. Give a minimum sentence to maximum punishment, but do so quickly. Show their faces to society when convicted. Let them be an example to deter others.
6. Mental Health – Promote free mental health checks for people. It has to start from the grass root level of panchayats. Remove the stigma of mental health. Start treating people who are violent, aggressive, and with personality disorders. Do not take violence lightly.
7. Rehabilitate – Women who have been raped and rejected from their families need to be rehabilitated in their own society and life. Send social workers with them to talk to the families. Find her a job. Educate her if she is not already. Let her find dignity in her life so that all women understand that there is no stigma of being raped. There is only shame if you don’t report it.
8. Believe the Woman – If she is a prostitute, a housewife, a student, a working woman – believe her. She has taken the courage to come to you. Record her statement. Do not judge her for what she wears, how she speaks, where she was, who she was with or what she was doing. If she said “no” she was raped. Understand it and sympathize immediately. Train the entire police force to behave so. To take it as an urgent matter. Immediately.
9. Family, Society and Stigma - Rapes can happen within a family. Do not tell her to go back and adjust to her family life if this has happened. Do not say this is a family matter that you have no control over. Arrest the person. Do not make her the victim. She cannot go back. She needs help. You need to give it to her. She needs to believe in the Justice System where even her husband can be arrested for a week. Where she will be protected for speaking out. Don’t advise her what to do, what to wear and how to behave. Just be on her side.
10. Punish Powerful – If a rapist has gotten away because he bribed the police, the police and the accused should be immediately given a severe punishment. Do not be afraid of being brutal. These are the worst of times. It calls for desperate measures. Let the Justice System of India set an example where corruption shall not thrive at all, especially when it comes to abuse. If an MLA’s son, police officer’s children and other powerful people are involved in such a heinous crime – do not look away! Confront them. Treat them like any other citizen of India who has committed a crime. Arrest them. They cannot have power. Money cannot buy back a life. They cannot have time to suppress statements or buy out witnesses. Act fast.