UP: After Struggling for 10 Days to Get an FIR Registered, Dalit Rape Victim Repeatedly Denied Medical Examination

Let alone conducting a fair probe into the allegation leveled, the police allegedly “humiliated”, “discouraged” and “harassed” the woman.
UP: After Struggling for 10 Days to Get an FIR Registered, Dalit Rape Victim Repeatedly Denied Medical Examination

Prayagraj: Shedding light on the attitude of the Uttar Pradesh Police towards women who are survivors of sexual violence, a Dalit girl victim had to struggle for 10 days to get cops to register a first information report (FIR) — forget about an investigation into the incident.

Such delayed registration of FIRs result in slimmer chances of action against the accused. Let alone conducting a fair probe into the allegation leveled, the police even “humiliated”, “discouraged” and “harassed” the woman.

Despite an extensive and well-defined Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) being in place to deal with cases of sexual assault, the victim is ironically forced to visit the district hospital for medical treatment.

The SOP states that as soon as information about such an offence is received, an FIR “shall be recorded in accordance with the provisions of Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC.) by a woman officer with greatest care and caution — incorporating all facts that are directly or indirectly connected to the crime”. 

Following the registration of the FIR, the SOP states that its “copy will be provided to the complainant/informant free of cost”. If there is a delay in lodging the FIR, the reasons behind it should be explained.    

Accompanied by a lady police officer and at least one family member, the SOP states, the victim will be taken to a hospital for medical examination. The victim of such crimes should be treated with honor and sensitivity. Officer interacting with her (victim) should be extremely courteous. No indecent questions should be put to the victim and care should be taken to protect dignity and prevent embarrassing situations for the victim.

The Incident

On February 10, a resident of Prayagraj’s Phaphamau, the girl was allegedly gangraped at Sohbat Bagiya area. Following the incident, she was continuously making rounds of the police station to get an FIR registered.

The cops at the George Town Police finally took cognisance of her complaint and lodged an FIR allegedly around 10 days after the incident.

Talking about the horror that unfolded and the ordeal she suffered to ensure that a case is registered and the perpetrators are brought to book, the victim told The Mooknayak, “After recording my statement on February 21, I want sent to Dufferin Hospital for a medical examination and treatment along with a female constable. But the doctors there refused to examine me, saying that my date of birth mentioned in the FIR is not matching with the one on my Aadhaar card. They said they would perform the medico-legal test after the mismatch in the date of birth is rectified.”

She further said when she went to the hospital again on February 22 with the correction, she was allegedly asked to get permission from the CMO (chief medical officer) of the district. 

“From the hospital, I went to the CMO’s office. It consumed a lot of time. On February 23, I once again reached the hospital with all the papers. But the female doctor present in the hospital once again refused to perform the mandatory medical examination, saying she is busy with three cesarean-section deliveries,” she narrated. 

The medical examination was finally conducted on her when she visited the hospital for the third time on February 24.

The Mooknayak tried to reach out to the CMO but failed as he was not available for comments on the alleged callousness on part of the health department. However, Prayagraj’s deputy medical director said the matter has been taken into cognisance. 

“We have taken cognisance of the incident, and the concerned officer has been directed to conduct an immediate medical examination,” he said.

Barriers in Accessing Justice

This is not the first case where such criminal negligence on part of the police and health department have come to the fore. 

The Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) — a women-run rights organisation — and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) — an international human rights organisation — had in September 2020 released a report based on the experiences of 14 rape and gang rape survivors in the state. The findings revealed how difficult it is for victims to register an FIR even today. 

The report studied 14 cases of sexual violence reported from Muzaffarnagar, Jaunpur, Jhansi, Lucknow, Auraiya, Amroha and Aligarh. Of the cases profiled, there were three complaints of gang rape and 11 cases of rape that were reported between 2017 and 2020, except one which took place in 2016.

The study stated that no FIR was filed following the initial complaint in any of the incidents. FIRs were filed in 11 cases, but only after a significant delay. The police took anything from two to 228 days to lodge a case. 

In six of these instances, the rape victim and their advocates had to approach higher-ups at the police department to ensure that a case is filed.

According to the research, while attempting to register an FIR, the victims encountered discrimination on the basis of caste and gender. In five cases, the report revealed, an FIR was filed following a court order.

The study states the police took 181 days to file an FIR in a rape case that took place in Aligarh in May 2017. 

Similarly, a rape survivor at Amroha could get an FIR registered only after 111 days of the incident — which happened on March 3, 2017. 

Instead of booking the accused one rape charges, the police filed a sexual harassment case under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In the case of a gang rape that took place in a moving vehicle in Auraiya, the police filed an FIR after 74 days. 

After 228 days, the police in Jhansi filed an FIR in another rape case. Following an incident that was reported in Lucknow on October 17, 2016, the police filed an FIR 69 days later.

According to the report, in nearly every instance, the police first did not think the woman’s complaint was true. The women said that they were harassed by the police and pressured to tone down their complaints against the accused. They were informed that they were taking undue advantage of the law by leveling allegations in order to accuse men. 

The report stated Dalit victims of sexual abuse experienced discrimination based on their caste in addition to their gender.

In one such case where a Dalit domestic help went to file a complaint, a police officer in Aligarh allegedly told her, “You are not so beautiful that someone will rape you.”

This is happening when all sexual offenses, commonly referred to as gender-based offenses, are deemed punishable under the IPC. The police are required by law to report sexual offenses and register an FIR without delay. 

According to Section 166A(c) of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, if a police official does not register an FIR in cases of sexual assault, he/she will have to face a jail term and a fine.

But despite repeated refusals to register cases on filmy grounds and openly flouting norms, the police officials go scot free as the law to prosecute them is too complicated in the country.

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