Last week, a man in Northwest Delhi’s Rani Bagh area was arrested and sent to judicial custody for allegedly raping his friend’s maid. When dailies in India regularly carry reports of sexual abuse, it is more disturbing when the abuser behind bars is identified as a man from the police force.

Assistant sub-inspector Javeer Singh was accused of raping his friend’s maid at gunpoint. The 23-year-old domestic help approached the police on Friday, July 10. Medical tests confirmed the rape, following which Singh was arrested and sent to 14 days of judicial custody.

Earlier in April, two assistant police inspectors and a police constable in Mumbai were arrested for rape after a 29-year-old model filed a complaint saying that she was kidnapped and sexually molested at a police station.

Police brutality in India is not a new phenomenon, and the same holds true for other countries. A range of human rights violations has been committed by the police force that includes arbitrary arrest and detention and extrajudicial killings. There have been scathing reports on abuse, racial discrimination and the use of excessive force by the US police departments for more than two decades. The Counted, a project run by The Guardian, reports that 601 people have been killed this year by the protectors of the country.

In most cases it has been found that the jury finds them not guilty of the charges. Last year, a jury acquitted former police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli of the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless and mentally ill man. Although the surveillance camera caught the two officers beating Thomas and stunning him with a taser, the law protected the officers, as the jury and court often hesitate to question an officer’s decision during a confrontation with a potentially dangerous person. The video sparked a nationwide outcry, but the law provided a shield to the wrongdoers.

The perpetrators of crime in such cases are the ones who are meant to protect the society against crime. Law keepers are turning into law breakers. Although this is not true for every man in the uniform, we cannot ignore the growing number cases where police officers have abused their power. The scale of the problem is largely hidden with no official statistics maintained. The rise of police brutality can have destructive effects on a society. Whether the abuse is physical or psychological, the repercussions are severe. The consequences go beyond the direct victim. The emotional toll endured by the society lingers long after the campaigns end and the news crew return to other stories. It establishes a culture of fear and mistrust between the police force and the society, especially when minorities are unfairly targeted every time. Law enforcement comes with many liberties, but these liberties have created a scope of misconduct that goes undetected.

Police officials are obliged to protect and serve individuals, but, unfortunately, some have abused the power that comes along with their authoritative position. Police brutality is a global problem. The media has been heavily publicising recent cases, thus shedding light on a segment that shakes the foundation of the society. Acting as shields, guarding the walls of the society, when these armours turn back and strike, the law and order comes crumbling down. But the question still looms over dark clouds: is this just a case of few police officers or a broken culture?