The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended protecting the rape accused from “false cases” by keeping their identities under wraps until found guilty.
The NHRC recommendation has come at a time when false rape cases are leading to public outrage and the Men’s Rights Groups are demanding gender-neutral laws and strictest action against the false accuser.
A study, which was commissioned by the NHRC and conducted by the Centre for Women’s Development Studies that is affiliated to the ministry of education, sought to understand sexual violence against women from the perspective of sexual predators.
The study said, “While revealing the identity of victims of sexual crimes is a punishable offence, the same principle does not hold in the case of alleged or actual offenders, whose names and personal details can be freely circulated. A time has come, when there is a need for safeguards to protect the accused from ‘false claims’.”
The study – titled “Interrogating violence against women from the other side: An exploratory study into the world of perpetrators” – asserted that anonymity would be beneficial, particularly for the juvenile accused.
“Although issues of identification and naming of the principal actors may not appear to be significant in the larger scheme of things, they have major ramifications especially for accused, who are later found to be innocent,” it said.
It suggested introducing reforms for perpetrators rather than declaring them guilty at the time of framing of charges against them. “…. a crime like rape must be understood not only in the context of an illegal act that breaches a given statute but as a transgression aimed at violating the agency of the victim(s)” and “there is a crucial need to understand the reasons behind such crimes,” it stated.
The study has also dwelt on the concept of consent in sexual activity. “According to the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, 2012, sexual activity with anyone below 18 years of age is illegal, and yet today’s social context has created the conditions for such interactions. Consequently, the narrative of ‘false cases’ and ‘framing’ by the girl and her family come to represent the deep tensions between tradition and modernity,” it said.
“Perhaps, for the first time, women are exercising sexual autonomy and choice in a social milieu in which premarital sex for pleasure especially for women is still very much taboo,” it added.
However, leftists and so-called women’s rights activists don’t agree with keeping the name of accused persons in rape cases ‘anonymous’ and are opposing it.