Civil society members here on Wednesday called for a more sensitised police force and a more humane judicial approach in dealing with rape cases for a fulsome justice delivery system.
A national conference on rape survivors titled "First Response, Good Policing and Rape Survivors", organised by the Commonwealth Human Rights Inititative (CHRI), saw a congeregation of advocates, NGOs, senior police officers and several members from the civil society.
The conference talked about the shortcomings in the police and court systems and suggested measures to overcome them.
"The biggest challenges within the police system at present are limited training, low women representation in the ranks and patriarchal values within the system. I also feel that the police have been used very badly in our country, politically," said Kanwaljit Deol, Director General of Police (Retd) at the meet.
"The good officers who are in the position to lead are sidelined. There is no political will in this country to keep women safe. It is never an election issue," she said.
Lawyer and human rights activist Vrinda Grover emphasised the need for inclusion of more women in the police forces and also underlined that an "institutional bias" prevails among the forces against members of certain communities.
"We need more women in police and rigorous training in evidence collection and investigation. Without competent investigation, it is impossible to ensure a conviction," she said.
Some of those present also pointed to an equally abrasive behaviour on the part of women police personnel in dealing with victims of sexual assault.
Sanjay Beniwal, Special Commissioner for Women's Safety in the Delhi Police, batted for the cultivation of a "chivalrous" man, who could rise to the occasion whenever he confronts an attack on the womenfolk.
"Men must realise that being manly is not tolerating, not perpetrating and not supporting any attacks on women," he added.
In her turn, Flavia Agnes, advocate and co-founder of the Mumbai-based NGO Majlis, recounted instances when even the higher courts were seen going with the wrong side of the law.
"You cannot rein in high courts; they are a law in themselves. You just cannot sensitise them (to treat the victims considerately)... they are so bored of their work," she said.
"A victim becomes a survivor only when justice is done, conviction takes place and he or she is rehabilitated. The legal community and civil society should join hands to protect the dignity of the complainants, and guide victims through the legal processes and help with their rehabilitation," she added.
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