Kerala rape: Shame on police

Though crimes against women happen every minute in the country, some of them rise to the top of public consciousness and help bring the issue of women’s safety sharply into focus.

The 2012 Nirbhaya case in Delhi raised awareness and led to the tightening of the laws and procedures to ensure the safety of women and to do justice to them. A case in the small town of Perumbavur in Kerala where a Dalit girl, Jisha, was sexually assaulted and murdered in her own home, has again brought attention to the lack of safety for women, and to the inability of the society and the state to protect them. The girl was brutally attacked and left dead in her shanty last week while her mother and sister were away.

Jisha was a law student and had aspirations like Nirbhaya. She was from a very socially and economically disadvantaged background. More than a week after her murder, the investigation has not made much headway. There was negligence on the part of the police from the beginning. The spot of murder was not cordoned off and much evidence was lost. The FIR was lodged after five days. The autopsy was not properly done and the report was delayed. Complaints from the girl’s mother that there were threats to her had been ignored.

The state has Nirbhaya vigilance committees and women’s protection schemes and yet the assault on the girl happened, and the police did not take it seriously. The excuse that the police was busy with preparations for elections cannot be accepted. Only when protests against the murder and police inaction swept the state that the police activated themselves. This is shameful. Since elections are just a few days away, all political parties have also jumped into the women’s safety fray now.

There is a higher rate of crimes against women in Kerala than in other states. It is said that the greater number of women in the population and the higher percentage of women students and working women make them more vulnerable. This is also unacceptable. The fact that women are more active in society should not go against them and they should not be punished for that. Jisha’s tragedy shows that women are as unsafe and unsecure as they ever were. This is not just the situation in Kerala but the case anywhere and everywhere in the country. The least that can be done to ensure justice to the girl and her family is to find the killer earliest. 

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