Rape is defined as an unlawful sexual activity. This usually means sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the victim’s will, usually a female. This definition, however, does not even come close to describing what it actually means.
As Gurpreet Ram Rahim gets a twenty-year (in total) rigorous imprisonment sentence for raping two girls in 2002, we take a look at some of the rape cases that shook society.
1. Geeta Chopra case, 1978
This is a case that shocked Delhi at the time it occurred. What was especially chilling was that the victims, siblings Geeta Chopra and her brother Sanjay Chopra, were two teenagers. Two men, Jasbir Singh, a.k.a. Billa and Kuljeet Singh, a.k.a. Ranga, who had just been released from the Arthur Road prison in Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay), kidnapped the two for ransom and on finding out that the family was influential raped Geeta before killing both Geeta and Sanjay mercilessly.
After a few months, they were arrested while escaping on a train. Ranga and Billa, as they were infamously called, were hung within four years of the horrendous crime being reported.
2. Mathura rape case, 1978
Mathura, in this instance, was a minor Dalit girl who was raped by two constables within the premises of the Desai Ganj police station, in Maharastra. Unfortunately, the Sessions court judge found the accused not guilty.
The reasoning given for such a finding was that Mathura was habituated to sexual intercourse and this to the judge meant that the sexual act that took place in the police station was consensual.
While Mathura’s case did not end with justice, what it did for many others is path-breaking.
Widespread protests followed the verdict and forced some important changes in rape laws in India. One of the key takeaways from the amendment is – “Submission does not mean consent.”
3. Priyadarshini Matto, 1996
Priyadarshini Mattoo was a 25-year-old law student, at the time when she was found raped and murdered at her residence in New Delhi.
She had lodged several complaints of harassment, intimidation and stalking against the accused – Santosh Kumar Singh, who was a fellow student.
It took ten years, and several protests, before the High Court took suo-moto cognizance – putting the case on a fast track.
On 30 October 2006, a double-bench sentenced the accused to be hanged till death. However, on appeal, the Supreme Court in 2010 reduced the sentence to a life term.
4. Sowmya rape and murder case, 2011
At the time of the incident, Soumya was 23 years of age. She was traveling from Ernakulam to Shornur, Kerala. On February 1st, 2011 she boarded the passenger train. After several minutes, when the train reached the Vallathol Nagar station, the accused, named Govindachami, 33 years of age, tried to rob her, smashed her head on the wall and threw her out of the train.
He proceeded to carry her to the woods near the railway track and raped her. Succumbing to her injuries – Sowmya died soon after. The accused was sentenced to life imprisonment by the top court.
5. Hetal Parekh case, 1990
Hetal Parekh was a student in Kolkata and was living with her parents and brother at the time of the incident. Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the accused, was a security guard at the same building. On a day when Hetal was alone at home, Dhananjoy raped and murdered this young girl.
Soon after this, he went missing. The police eventually arrested him near his hometown. In 2004, former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalm, rejected a mercy plea that was initiated by Mrs. Meera Bhattacharjee, the wife of then Chief Minister of West Bengal.
6. Nirbhaya rape case, 2012
16 December 2012 is perhaps etched in the memory of many in Delhi and India. Delhi witnessed one of its most gruesome rape cases in Indian history.
The victim and her friend were returning home after watching a movie. The victim and her friend boarded a bus in which the six accused were also traveling. What followed is still fresh in our minds.
All the six people were arrested. One of them, Ram Singh, committed suicide in jail. Four of them were sentenced to death and the juvenile, who was below 18 years old, was sent to a juvenile home.
A total of 34,651 rape cases were reported in India in 2015. Among these, in 33,098 cases, the victims, as per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, knew the offenders. With each conviction, we inch forward towards ensuring that justice is served.