Only the other dayIHM was discussing the kinds of statements/ actions on the part of the police or politicians which potential rapists would find encouraging, and we find THIS in the morning papers yesterday. The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has all but written off the alleged gang-rape incident in Katwa, West Bengal, as fabricated by her political opponents– on the ludicrous pretext that medical examination did not reveal any tell-tale sign of rape. Apparently this is the second time in as many weeks that she has thought it fit to voice her doubts about the veracity of an allegation of rape.
I am sure the only thing worse than having a chief minister giving the lie to a rape victim must be to have a woman chief minister doing this.
For all we know, this might well become a trend– blaming political parties opposed to the one in government for ‘fabricating’ incidents of sexual violence. Not that there is any dearth of victim-blaming devices at the disposal of the police already.
The 29 year old victim has clearly stated in her FIR that she made no attempts to protect herself since the rapists threatened to kill her daughter, so it is hardly surprising that ‘tell-tale’ signs of rape were not found on her body.
RN Mondal, the doctor who examined the victim at Katwa subdivisional hospital, clarified to TOI he had never said the woman was not raped. Another senior doctor of the hospital said: “A medical report can never say if anyone has been raped. For instance, if a woman is raped at gunpoint, it is very hard to find any physical evidence.” (Link)
The accused have not even been booked for rape, only for dacoity. Banerjee alleged that the victim was a CPM sympathiser out to discredit her government. This, when the incident had a number of witnesses including the victim’s minor daughter.
This statement betrays not just extreme callousness and incomprehension of the seriousness of the crime but also a dangerous disregard of the law, for which ignorance is no excuse. Mamata has been known to be paranoid about her political opponents in the past but in this instance her paranoia amounts to a shocking travesty of the law which says that the victim’s account is to be treated as true unless the accused is able to prove otherwise.
The implications boggle the mind. A rapist in Mamata’s West Bengal only needs to choose his victims with care– to make sure that the victim is in some way affiliated with the opposition parties and then go right ahead and please himself. The victim can cry rape all she wants and no one, not least the chief minister, will believe her. Potential rapists in other parts of the country will no doubt watch this with interest, and it will only be a matter of time before this strategy catches on across the nation.
Meanwhile we can rave and rant about it all we want on our blogs.
Just makes me wonder, are our laws too ahead of our people when it comes to gender-based crimes? Is that why these crimes keep happening, the police keep looking the other way and the politicians don’t turn a hair?