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THE NEWS

Ministry of Home Affairs has distributed special kits to carry out immediate investigations into sexual assault cases among the States and the Union Territories.

THE SEXUAL ASSAULT COLLECTION KITS (SAECK):

  • The distributed SAECK kits are the rape investigation kits to help probe sexual assault cases.
  • It is an annual ranking of countries complied and published by Reporters Without Borders, based upon the organization’s own assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year.Moreover, 3,100 special kits for collecting blood and semen samples have been distributed among states and union territories to rid out the sexual assault cases in India.
  • Procurement of the Kits: The SAECKs or ‘rape investigation kits’ were procured with financial support under the central government’s ‘Nirbhaya Fund’.
  • Kits Composition:
    • These kits are comprised of essential items that will aid in furnishing evidence such as blood and semen samples in sexual assault and rape cases.
    • Each kit has a set of test tubes and bottles, which mention contents and specifications.
    • It also contains instructions on the collection of evidence from the crime scene.
    • The kit would be sent to the closest laboratory and within two months the results would be out.

MECHANISM TO ENSURE PROPER UTILIZATION OF THE KITS:

  • Training will be given to the police and medical officers regarding the use of kits in the event of any such case happening in their area of jurisdiction.
  • As per the official data released, 2,575 investigators, 1,648 prosecutors, and 927 doctors have already been trained for this purpose from various States and UTs both for systematic collection of evidence and as master trainers.
  • Role of the Directorate of Forensic Sciences (DFSS): DFSS is a wing of Home Ministry already has issued two guidelines in this regard:
    • First Guideline: First guideline for investigators and prosecutors for collection, storage, and transportation of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases.
    • Second Guideline: The second one is for medical officers dealing with sexual assault cases.
  • Role of LNJP NIC&FS: The Delhi-based Lok Narayan Jai Prakash National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences (LNJP NIC&FS) is undertaking the training of medical officers from states and union territories on medico-legal procedures.

NEED FOR THE INITIATIVE:

  • Rising Crime Rates: Incidents of crime against women rose from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016.
  • Data of NCRB: As per the data of the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015 as many as 34,651 cases of rape were registered in the country. The figure has increased to 38,947 in 2016.
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace: As many as 1,971 cases of sexual harassment of women at the workplace were registered in four years until December 2017. In 2014 the Ministry of Women and Child Development stated that the “the number of complaints of sexual harassment of women at workplaces registered with the Commission of Women (NCW) during the last two years and current shows an increasing trend.”

STEPS TAKEN SO FAR:

  • Justice J S Verma Committee:Justice J S Verma Committee was set up to comprehensively analyze laws relating to women safety to suggest suitable amendments to Criminal Law.
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013:In 2013, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was enacted in order to include more crimes like stalking and voyeurism, besides increasing penalties and punishment durations for the existing ones.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012:The age of consent was increased from 16 to 18 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
  • Juvenile Justice Act:To deal with children in conflict with the law, the Juvenile Justice Act was enacted in 2015. It allows for the trial of children in conflict with the law and aged between 16 and 18 years to be tried as adults in cases of heinous crimes.
  • Increased CCTV in Public Transportation:CCTV presence has been increased in public transportation like buses and railway coaches, including railway stations. Such steps can help gather crucial evidence for the prosecution of crime.
  • Fast Track Courts for Speedy Justice: Fast Track Courts were set up to ensure speedy justice.

CONCLUSION:

The distribution of SAECKS kits will help to give speedy justice to the victims and also will give a hand to the prosecution officers for faster resolution of the sexual assault cases in the country. In order to rid out the crime against women broadly, Public awareness campaigns need to be carried out by the state and society at large. Here, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations can play a crucial part. Further, it is important to make policing more effective and sensitive to women related issues.

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