New Delhi, Sept. 22: Most victims of molestation don’t follow up the cases, police officers have said citing crime bureau figures and the conviction rate of just 3 per cent.
The trend means the perpetrators get off the hook and are left to torment other women. Of the over 2.5 lakh people against whom cases were filed last year under Section 354 of the IPC, only 8,806, or 3.5 per cent, have been convicted so far, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
“Hundreds arrested for molestation go scot-free as the victims withdraw the cases. Some cases are hard to follow up as we realise that the victims have given false addresses. In others, the victims refuse to identify in court the very men they have accused in FIRs. Such things are common in molestation cases. It’s unfortunate that instead of being behind bars, the culprits prowl the streets to molest more women,” said an officer.
According to the crime records bureau, of the 2.5 lakh people booked last year, cases were withdrawn against 6,708 and trials are pending against 2.08 lakh.
Victims, though, say it is easy to blame them for the low conviction and point out that the judicial process in the country is so time-consuming and harrowing that it leaves them with little hope of getting justice.
“It is very difficult for molestation victims to go through this daily grind (of running to police stations and courts). Molestation wreaks havoc on the victim’s confidence and self-esteem. I couldn’t bring myself stand up in court trying to defend what I wear and how many nights I go out with my friends,” said Akansha Nag (name changed), a 23-year-old who was molested by neighbourhood goons in Delhi when she was a teenager.
Akansha eventually decided to withdraw the case. “I withdrew it as I felt that I was living my life going round and round the very day that scarred me forever. I know that morally I may be wrong in letting the people who molested me go scot-free and that they may be out there molesting others, but I have to move on in my life.”
The picture is bleak in the nation’s capital. Of the 73 cases filed so far this year, molesters have been acquitted in 51, or 70 per cent, of them, according to court records.
In the 51 instances where the alleged perpetrators walked free, the victims didn’t appear in court in 23 cases, the police couldn’t find the addresses mentioned given by the women in the FIRs in 17 cases, while the victims refused to recognise molesters in 11 cases.A person convicted in a molestation case can be sentenced to a maximum of two years or can be let off with a fine.