Despite several measures being made to support rape victims, it has prevailed to be a pressing issue with virtually little to no comfort in seeking justice. The law enforcement authorities have identified the areas of disconfirm and reprimanded the negative practices of the authorities and society. The law of the land protects rape victims and has enacted several laws to protect them. Acts including,
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 375, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO), Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013, Medical Examination of Survivors of Acid Attacks and Sexual Assault (MESOA), The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Indian Evidence Act, and Immoral Traffic Act protect the rights of survivors of rape in India.
Here are the rights of rape victims
Right to medical assistance
Amongst all the rights, rape victims are entitled to the foremost is the right to medical assistance. Section 375(C) of the Code of Criminal Procedure extends the right to speedy and undenied medical attention. No government or private hospital can deny admission to a rape victim. Additionally, the victim is entitled to free first aid treatment, regardless of the gravity of the injury, before being transferred to the instructed medical facility.
If a hospital demands a fee from the rape victim, the hospital can be penalized under Section 166B of the Indian Penal Code, i.e., non-treatment of the victim for up to a year, fine, or both.
Right to file a police complaint
Rape victims are entitled to file Zero FIR, i.e., the right to file a police complaint anywhere, irrespective of where the incident occurred or its jurisdiction. Post-filing of the FIR, the report shall be transferred to the place of the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. Zero FIR aims to ensure that victims of crimes receive timely justice and that their complaints are not ignored or delayed due to technicalities such as jurisdictional issues. By allowing the FIR to be registered at any police station, victims can quickly get the legal process started and take steps toward seeking justice.
Zero FIR is significant in sexual assault or other crimes against women. Victims may be hesitant to file a complaint at the local police station due to fear of retaliation or stigma. By allowing them to file the complaint anywhere, victims can have the assurance that they will be taken seriously and that the legal process will be started promptly. It is an essential step towards ensuring timely justice for victims of crime, particularly in cases of sexual assault or other crimes against women.
Right to privacy
The right to privacy is important in cases of rape because it helps protect the dignity and autonomy of the survivor. Rape can have devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences for the survivor. In many cases, the survivor may feel shame, guilt, or fear of stigma and retaliation and may be reluctant to report the crime or seek justice. This is where the right to privacy can play a crucial role in ensuring that the victim feels safe while seeking justice. Privacy in the context of rape can take different forms.
It can mean the survivor's right to control the disclosure of their identity and personal information, as well as the right to control the dissemination of information about the crime itself. For example, in some cases, media outlets may publish the names and identities of the survivors or may sensationalize the details of the crime. This can further traumatize the survivor and deter others from reporting similar crimes. The right to privacy can help prevent such violations by ensuring that the survivor's personal information and the details of the crime are protected.
The right to privacy can also mean the survivor's right to control the disclosure of their medical history, physical examination, and other sensitive information related to the crime. Rape survivors may have to undergo medical examinations, forensic testing, and counseling, which can be invasive and traumatizing. The right to privacy can help ensure that such examinations and procedures are conducted with the survivor's consent and in a manner that respects their dignity and autonomy.
Right to compensation
The law also extends the right to compensation to rape victims under Section 357(A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure in India upon the filing of such claims. The intent is to aid their recovery process and, depending on the gravity of the case, direct offenders to pay fair compensation of up to Rs. 10 lakhs to the victim or their family. Victims also have the right to free legal aid and medical and psychological treatment.
The compensation is typically paid out of the State Victim Compensation Fund. It may be used for medical expenses, physical rehabilitation, legal fees, loss of income, funeral costs, and even educational fees for children who are the victims of rape. What’s important to note is that these compensations are available regardless of whether the accused is found guilty or not.
Right to legal aid
Rape victims have the right to seek legal aid to pursue justice. The Code of Criminal Procedure in India entitles anyone accused of a crime to be eligible for legal assistance. This includes rape victims who may not be able to afford a lawyer. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) provides free legal services to rape victims who cannot pay for their private legal defense.
NALSA provides legal advice and assistance during the investigation, trial, and appeals process. Rape victims also have access to specially trained women police officers, an independent judiciary, and protection from social stigmatization, all of which can provide invaluable support during and after the legal process.
Right to protection
Rape victims hold the right to protection from social stigma and further harm. The government has passed laws to protect victims and ensure they are not seen as culpable for their own victimization. The government has set up special women's police stations across the country to provide more sensitive handling of rape complaints and investigations. In addition, rape victims have the right to protection from further harm or harassment from those responsible for the crime, as well as a safe and secure environment.
Right to a fair trial
The Indian judiciary provides every citizen with the right to be heard in a court of law. This includes rape victims who can pursue justice through legal action. Courts must follow specific procedures to ensure that victims receive due process and a fair and impartial hearing. The presiding judge must also take into account any relevant evidence presented during the trial and ensure that the accused’s rights are not violated in any way, including the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and access legal representation.
Recognizing the rights of a rape victim is a step closer to reforming society and its doings. It is essential to recognize the importance of upholding these rights, as they are necessary for providing justice to victims of rape and ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. It is indispensable that these rights are respected and the victims of rape are made aware of the privileges extended to them by law for them to pursue the course of justice.