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Hit & run: Cars new choice of rapists
Published on 21 Jun. 2009 12:44 AM IST
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It's happening with an alarming frequency. Within days of the rape inside moving cars in Surat and Bhopal, an 18-year-old British girl was assaulted by two men inside a taxi near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday evening. According to Kangra police chief A K Fulzele, Susanne (name changed) was returning from Bandla village where she works with an NGO, teaching English to kids in government schools. She took a taxi to Palampur, around 30 km from the village, to go shopping when the two men in the car raped her. The cab driver was identified as Rakesh Kumar (28) was his accomplice as Sunil Kumar (26). He said, the two first molested Susanne in the moving car and then stopped it at a desolate place and took turns to rape her. According to Times News Network, these incidents underline a disconcerting pattern: That there are enough wild and seriously deviant men willing to take the risk of virtually lifting women off the streets, raping them, and then dropping them in secluded spots hoping to cover their soiled footprints. Delhi is frighteningly unsafe in this regard. Here the victims of such rape cases are across spectrum: From a foreign diplomat who was trussed up inside a SUV and raped, to a university student and even slum dwellers. Most of these women were targeted in the night. One of the two men who raped the Swiss diplomat was well-dressed and spoke fluent English. The other, in a T-shirt, spoke Hindi. Both were in their late 20s and, according to the victim's statement, were coldly casual about their depraved act. Cops admit that cold statistics do not tell the entire story since many cases are never recorded; women don't want to undergo the second trauma of "parading" their injury so soon after the first. "Not all the cases are reported by the media. Only when the accused or the victim comes from the upper class is there a media outcry," says a clinical psychologist who deals with rape trauma patients. Again, it's not just secluded spaces that are unsafe. Siri Fort in Delhi can by no means be called desolate. Or Dhaula Kuan, which is one of the busiest intersections in the capital. Yet women were lifted from these places without anybody getting a whiff. The law bans tinted glasses on cars, but the police continue to wink at it. Mumbai, too, is no stranger to rapes inside cars. In March 2006, the city was shocked when Sriram mills scion Abhishek Kasliwal was booked for raping a 55-year-old woman in his car. He had offered her a lift from Colaba to her home, but instead took her to the mill compound in Worli and allegedly raped her. On Friday, the victim, who had mysteriously disappeared after October 2006, deposed in-camera before the court and identified Kasliwal. "In metros, money is power. There's no respect for mechanisms of redressal or punishment," says social psychologist Dr Harish Shetty. "Also, when a person gets away easily for a smaller offence, he has no fear of deterrence." In August 2007, an affluent businessman from Ghatkopar was booked for raping the teenaged daughter of his domestic help in his car. The businessman, Gurudas Kamath, feigned he was going to a suburban mall with his wife for shopping and would need the girl's help to carry bags. Instead, he drove her to a desolate lane near the upmarket Hiranandani complex in Powai, where she was raped in the car. In Surat, the three youth who raped a 17-year-old girl on June 13, drove around the city for about 25 km and filmed the gory act. Says Sheba George of Sahr Waru, a women's activist group in Ahmedabad, "Men at large don't seem to be coming to terms with the changing profiles of women. There's a tacit suggestion that they will continue to behave in this way and that women will have to change. Besides, police give low priority to crimes against women." The Bhopal rapists of the Mumbai housewife (on June 18) are still at large. The only evidence gathered so far is the names of two persons, Mukesh and Sattu, on silver bracelets inside the SUV in which the crime was committed.

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