Editorial

Crime against women and Politics – A vicious circle

Women safety is a big talking point in India these days. Rape and murder of a minor in Kathua, rape and murder of victim’s father in Unnao were embarrassing enough, on Wednesday there were 2 rapes of teenaged girls reported from Haryana and Bihar. World is looking at us in shock, as to how we, oldest civilisation of the world, most sanskari (wise) people of the globe, tolerate gang rapes of little girls and find ways to defend them. How can, we as a community, country and civilisation live with the guilt of letting it happen around us. As per Thomas Reuters report, Delhi holds the dubious record of being the 4th most unsafe city in the world. And India is in the top 10 worst countries for being a woman.

Women, girls, kids and now babies as young as 3 months old have been reported to be brutally raped and murdered. There are no words to describe the ghastly act. But there are plenty of words to describe the society that tolerates it…coward. We are coward as a community, selfish as individuals. We are venal and degenerated society, dreaming of stars when we cannot light up the eyes of our significant other.

National Crime Bureau reports that 39 women face crime every hour. Domestic violence being the largest category of incidences, followed by kidnapping and rape. In 2016, 2.5 million heinous crimes were reported against women. It is widely known that majority of women do not even report the criminal acts, especially in rural areas, for the fear of social rejection. So, the real incidences of crime are way higher than just the reported ones. 70% of women are living with domestic violence, 1 women killed for dowry every 4 minutes, 4 women raped every hour. There has been an 85% increase in past 10 years, sharpest increase from 2012 onwards. This in itself may not be as bad, it may be due to higher reporting, crumbling the wall of social stigma attached to sexual crimes against women.

Noteworthy, marital rape is not a crime yet, eve teasing and sexual harassment is tolerated quite well as a way of life. ‘Minor’ incidents like sexual comments and inappropriate touching etc in public spaces is not even worth raising an eyebrow. Victim’s shaming is norm and those who dare to report are made to suffer for the deed. Mind it, such crimes have increased by 83% from 2007 and conviction rates have tumbled down to 18.9% in 2016, from over 24% a decade back. For benefit of doubt, this could be due to higher reporting and better literacy, less stigma derived from the attention given to high profile cases. As expected, Delhi is worst state for crime against women and Puducherry being the safest. 33% of all the total crimes reported from the entire country are from Delhi.

Does the puerility of bird brained politicians actually matter? How do they get re-elected term after term in-spite of their odious comments of half of the population is a story for another day. ADR report citing the dismal stats on law makers becoming law breakers, especially for the fairer gender is depressing. There were 334 candidates with record of heinous crime against women, in fray for current state and central elections, out of which 51 got elected in recent years. Among the states Maharashtra has the highest elected representatives, 12, with crimes reported on affidavit, West Bengal has 11 and Odisha comes third with 6 MLAs who declared cases. Among the parties BJP tops the list with 14 MLAs and MPS sent to state and central governments, Shiv Sena has 7, All India Trinamool Congress has 6. For declared candidates BJP declared 48 candidates with dubious record, BSP came a second with 36 and INC had 27 candidates who declared crime against women in their affidavit.

In a country, where the law makers who are supposed to lead the nation in new thinking are reinforcing medieval beliefs. Instead of making the weaker sex feel safe and empowered, they are cementing the status quo. Concrete actions are replaced with empty sloganeering. Time and energy is spent on flashy perception, not on concrete actions. Who will take these law makers to task, when they are not interested in bringing about a meaningful change but are vote collecting, muscle & money enabled election winning robots.

Solution to the problem is education and healthcare. These should be made accessible to entire population, and of course to women. Women education should be totally free, economic benefit to parents for educating girls beyond school. Safe and enriching environment should be created for girls to seek education at primary and tertiary levels. At work places, country wide framework should be created to deal with sexual harassment at work, maternity benefits should be standardised. Hefty penalties for employers who violate the framework.

On social front, education of young boys (11-17 yr old) for gender sensitisation. This is the only way, men can be rewired to think about women as equal and important members of family and society. Women should be empowered legally by giving equal share in family wealth. On criminal law front, police reforms to ensure swiftness, certainty and harshness of punishment who violate the modesty of a women. Police force should be trained to treat Victims of sexual violence with sensitivity and confidentiality.

On individual level, if we treat women with respect, refuse to give or take dowry, educate girls in our family, respect ownership of their lives. We all can make a difference.

As Gandhi ji said “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member,” we are far from being great. Jai Hind!

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