In an Index created by National Geographic and Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security, these are the best and worst countries to be a woman.
To my sheer surprise India is on 133rd rank among total 167 countries included in this study.
In current scenario, I feel India should have made to Worst 10 Countries if Not Worst 5.
In India, 99% Rapes and Sexual Harassments are never reported.
Our social fabric and disgust for rape victims plays a huge part in this.
A rape victim is humiliated not only during rape but even after that. Society, Police & Judiciary are equally complicit in making her life a living hell.
While India lacks in providing a strong law on Rape/Sexual Harassment. There are some women friendly countries which have great SOPs and Laws against sexual violence.
We can learn from these Women Friendly Countries.
Firstly, I’ll mention how rape laws are in India:
POCSO & Anti-rape Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 :
Section 375 of the IPC made punishable the act of sex by a man with a woman if it was done against her will or without her consent.
The definition of rape also included sex when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
Also, sex with or without her consent, when she is under 18 years is considered rape.
In the IPC, Section 228A was added later which makes it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim of certain offences including rape.
The 2013 Act, increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.
It also created new offences, such as use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.
The POCSO Act defines offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and safeguarding the interest and well-being of children. It also sets out a child-friendly procedure regarding the recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences, establishment of special courts and speedy trial of cases.
The punishment for gang rape was increased to 20 years to life imprisonment from the earlier 10 years to life imprisonment.
Where’s the Loopholes?
The biggest loopholes are weak policing, lack of SOPs on healthcare of victim, and judicial delay. Even after making stringent laws, some loopholes remain in the very law itself.
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- Marital rape is not a crime within India’s legal framework, except for separated couples.
- Anti rape law is not gender neutral. It doesn’t provide security to men and transgender people.
- The marital rape exception under Section 375 of the IPC states that the sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape.
- The politicians accused of the crime may remain in office until convicted.
- Potential abuse of Anti rape law by women.
- Rather than finding support from police, judicial institutions, and government officials, women who try to fight abusive situations often face apathy. There’s lack of clear guidelines on handling such cases.
Punishment for Rape Culprits in Women Friendly Countries:
While creating a list of best anti rape laws, I have included only those countries where Rape rates are the lowest. The countries with extreme punishment like castration or beheading aren’t utopia for women if they don’t have inclusion, security, freedom and opportunities altogether.
The Nordic countries are often praised for their achievements on gender equality, but according to a 2012 study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), a large percent of women in Finland, Norway and Sweden have experienced physical or sexual violence from anyone at some point.
Why France is best country for women? Because the French are pretty hardcore about their rape laws. They hand out 15 year sentences for rape, which can be extended to 30 or life depending on the extent of damage and brutality.
- Marital rape
- Rape against man, women, trans, minor.
While there’s controversy about the age of consent. Still, France has a great ecosystem to ensure women safety.
Denmark is by far the best country for women in terms of gender equality, pay parity and now for safety as well.
Moving from a system where there had to be coercion and violence for it to be rape, Denmark has made consent the basis for determining rape.
Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Britain already have similar laws.
In the UK there has been no requirement to show force was used or threatened in rape cases since 1841.
United Kingdom’s anti rape law is very elaborate. It includes marital rape, minors, causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent. Although, the law is framed to consider man a culprit, a female assisting a man in attack on third party is considered guilty of rape as well.
Otherwise, a female can be charged with assault by penetration, which carries similar sentences to rape.
Any act of sexual penetration, of whatever nature, by any means whatsoever, committed on a person who does not consent, including using violence or serious threats by ruse or artifice, or abusing a person incapable of giving consent or free to oppose resistance, constitutes rape and shall be punished by imprisonment of five to ten years.
Clearly all the women friendly countries have something in common which is explicit consent.
Apart from it, the medical healthcare, help from local police and support from the society are the best practices they follow.
Sexual assault going grossly unreported is not a good sign. Sometimes we take less cases as decline in such violence.
But the reality is flip to what we assume.