She was speaking at an awareness programme at St. Agnes College here on rising atrocities against women.

Asha Nayak, senior advocate and Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee, on Saturday said that the existing laws were adequate to deal with cases of rape, but their implementation had been lax due to lacunae in the system.

She was speaking at an awareness programme at St. Agnes College here on rising atrocities against women.

Elaborating why most accused go scot-free when cases of sexual assault enter the trial stage, Ms. Nayak said hesitancy of the victim disposing before the judge, inefficiencies in the police system that diluted the case, muddled up medical reports, incorrect and incomplete forensic analysis, and lax prosecution were the major impediments.

“India is a traditional society…when a victim tells her family about sexual abuse, they try to hide it. And even if the case of rape is reported, valuable time would have been already lost. Defence lawyers pounce on these lacunae,” she said, and added that as there would be no eye-witnesses for most of the rape cases, medical evidence remained the only deciding factor. “However, evidence is not gathered properly, and the rapist invariably goes scot-free because of lack of evidence,” she added.

She said even the judiciary was insensitive towards victims of rape, often questioning the moral character of the complainant. “To relive the moment of rape to the judge, prosecution, defence, clerks who type out the statements is a horrible experience,” said Ms. Nayak.

She criticised the police for attempting to reach a compromise in some rape cases, calling it the “worst” kind of message sent to society. “It gives the message that if you have money, you can get away with rape,” she said.

With the district seeing four cases of sexual assault in the past two months, the CWC Chairperson said there was no need to go to Delhi to protest against rape as it happened in every district.

The programme started with a rally in the college with students holding placards that demanded respect for women. This was followed by presentations on rape cases in the country. A dance ballet, “From womb to tomb”, depicting harassment, starting from female infanticide to regressive practices against widows, was presented during the programme, while songs highlighted the need for struggle and unity to achieve equality and women’s rights.

A signature campaign seeking protection for women was launched, and the memorandum would be submitted to government officials in the coming days, said the college authorities. Speaking at the programme, social activist Vidya Dinker said stronger laws would not deter anti-social elements indulging in crimes such as rape. Only a transformation in “inherently patriarchal” society could stop sexual assault.