It is very rare that a story about sexual violence and rape has a silver lining- but this one does. In the city of Chennai, late at night a Railway Protection Force constable thwarted a rape attempt on a 25 year old woman on a train. The accused, later identified as a 26 year old called S Satyaraj was later arrested by the Government Railway Police and then sent to jail.
RPF Constable K Shivaji and another constable and subinspector S Subbiah make up a night patrol squad who were travelling on a train that went from Velachery to Chennai Beach. On their way they heard screams from the adjacent women’s coach around 11.45 pm.
The train had just pulled out of Chintadripet station and MRTS trains don’t have vestibules where you can travel in between compartments. The constable didn’t wait for the train to halt at the next station but got down when it was slowing down and jumped up to the neighbouring coach. There he found Satyaraj trying to assault a woman and restrained him.
When the other members of the patrol arrived, they found the woman unconscious- blood on her mouth and her clothes in tatters. They rushed her to Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital where she was given first aid and her condition was stabilised. The government Railway police personnel booked Satyaraj for attempting to rape and he is currently in jail.
The GRP head Pon MAnickavel met the victim personally in the hospital and the woman confirmed that the constable who had done his duty had saved her life. IGP MAnickavel awarded the constable with Rs 5000 as a reward for his exemplary services.
On one hand, activists and lawyers pointed out this attempted assault should be a good reminder about the vulnerability of passengers in MRTS trains and stations, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be drastic changes soon.
Among other things, the railway police must increase the number of patrol squads along the entire transit system Also female patrolling officers, and better lit coaches and stations are basic changes needed. At the end of the day, we cannot expect rapes to stop, and we still reward constables for doing their jobs- to perhaps encourage more cooperation from law enforcement in preventing and curbing rape culture. We, for our part could perhaps stop perpetrating a culture that makes women so intensely unsafe, and actively take steps that addresses rape and the air of resigned impossibility towards curbing it.