#DNAFightsRape – Save the Evidence
We live in a country where the statistics of sexual assault cases are always on the rise and the figures are scary, still not all the cases are reported due to the stigma attached to rape, more than the perpetrator, the survivor goes through a series of self-blaming thoughts. Seldom any rape survivor breaks the mould and reach out for help, however due to lack of knowledge at the survivor’s end about saving the most conclusive evidence i.e DNA that ensures conviction, many a time the offender is set free.
In an attempt to educate the survivors as well as the masses on their role and timely application of DNA forensics, pathbreaking campaign #DNAFightsRape – Save the Evidence was launched recently by Ogilvy India along with GTH-GA and is endorsed by Delhi Police, UN Women and AIIMS. As a part of the crusade experts across law enforcement, legal, forensics have showed their support by sharing incredibly powerful and thought-provoking videos that reiterates the role of scientific investigation and its most conclusive nature in convicting the guilty, where a rape is concerned.
In the video that is released today, features Suman Nalwa, DCP, Delhi Police, she is seen narrating the rape incidences that are not reported because the survivor feels that the offense cannot be proved as there was no eyewitness. However, conviction is still possible if the survivor saves the DNA of the offender. She further added that the survivor must not feel ashamed in coming forward and seeking help from authorities rather it should be the rapist who must be guilty of doing such heinous crime.
Prior to this another video featuring Dr. Vivek Sahajpal Assistant Director (DNA Testing), State Forensic Lab, Himachal Pradesh, talked about his experience in having dealt with a number of such cases, highlighting the fact that not all cases get public attention or even the support from their close ones to help fight for themselves. There are thousands out there like Nirbhaya, Disha or a Gudiya who do not get any support to fight the injustice brought on them. The act of rape itself is heinous and what makes it worse is the poor conviction that one sees in such cases due to lack of evidence.
He explains that the rapist inevitably leaves behind his DNA and that the bodily evidence, be it the blood, semen, hair, nail, sweat, saliva, all account for most crucial evidence that can help convict him. Sadly, not many people understand this and in most instances, crucial DNA evidence is lost as the survivor in her state of shock and trauma tends to wash and clean off the evidence. By the very nature of the crime, one can clearly tell there would be no eyewitnesses, it all happens behind closed doors or in the dark, so where is the question of an eyewitness to testify for the prosecutrix? And yet, there is so much over dependence on ocular evidence in the court! If we could simply save that bodily evidence, it will help track and convict the offender faster. Letting go of the evidence means not only boosting the criminal’s morale but it also negatively influences other elements in our society keeping a criminal mindset.
Forensic DNA is one of the most powerful tools that can help nab the criminals in sexual crimes. DNA evidence from rape kits can identify an unknown assailant or confirm the presence of a known suspect. It can connect the suspect to other crime scenes and identify serial offenders. Also, it can exonerate the wrongfully accused. Nearly every country in the world has forensic capabilities that enables comparing DNA found at crime scenes to that of a database of suspects to find the culprit. However, India is lagging in this respect. We are not doing enough DNA casework, as a result, those guilty of rape and murder often go scot free!
The campaign #DNAFightsRape was launched November 25th, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, combining forces from the Delhi Police, UN Women India, AIIMS, MARD and others to support the move. An initiative of Ogilvy and GTH-GA, this is a public awareness drive, that articulates views of subject matter experts, stating the importance of DNA as world’s best crime fighting technology and the need for it to be public knowledge. Rape is a burning issue in India and the common person has a very important role to play in expediting the criminal justice system. In a message going out from Dr. Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor General, Govt. of India and Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women India, there’s a clear ‘call to action’, do not wash, do not clean, DNAFightsRape-Save the Evidence! This has already crossed 50 million views, reaching out to 10 million+ people and continuing to gain momentum.