The survivor need not be the one who files the FIR. A witness to the incident, or a friend who has sufficient knowledge of the crime, can also file an FIR on the survivor’s behalf. But it is crucial that they do so only once they have her full consent, along with her willingness to be part of the investigation that will follow. Otherwise, the reporting can exclude and disempower the survivor.
Ideally, the survivor, after seeking as much support as needed, should feel empowered enough to make a decision about reporting. While every woman who has experienced sexual violence has the right to report, whether she decides to do so or not, is ultimately her choice.
You've chosen to file an FIR. Where do you go?
An FIR can be registered at any police station. The report will then be transferred to the station it concerns. Additionally, the complainant need not be physically present to start the process of lodging an FIR- she can call or send an e-mail.
If the woman is mentally or physically disabled, either temporarily or permanently, the police officer must go to her home or a place convenient for her to register the complaint. If the offence registered is rape, the same procedure is applicable.
In the case of offences like sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking, rape & gang rape, the report must only be recorded by a woman police officer.
What is the process?
You can file an FIR either in writing or verbally. The officer preparing the report needs to make a written copy.
Filing the FIR as soon as possible after the incident enables more detailed reporting, increases the report’s credibility in the eyes of the police, and facilitates timely action. Any delay may require additional explanation.
While filing the FIR, ensure that the basic details–date, place and time–are mentioned.
Be as detailed and explicit as possible while giving information. Euphemisms don’t help and the police may question you until they get all the information they require for an investigation.
If you're unaware of legal details about offences, don't hesitate to inform the officer. But knowing the law before registering a complaint could ensure that the FIR is registered accurately.
Always cross-check details in your report
Once the report is prepared, it is mandatory for the officer to read it back to you so that you can verify that your account has been taken down exactly the way it was narrated. If the officer does not read it out, ask them to do so. Don’t hesitate to ask for changes to be made; ensure that the report is as clear and accurate as it can be.
Get your own copy!
Only the person filing the FIR (be it the complainant or her representative/relative/friend) needs to sign the original FIR. The survivor or their representative should receive a copy within 24 hours.
Your copy will contain an FIR Number, which acts as a reference for all future follow-ups. Once this is handed over, the process of filing the FIR is complete.