ARE WE IN INDIA LIVING IN A REPUBLIC OR RAPE-PUBLIC?

By Agnelo Pires

It’s a gospel truth that crimes against women in India is a real 800-pound gorilla.  It will not be an exaggeration to say with shame, that the thunder of criminal acts towards women, not only in India but all over the world, is deafening. The ever-increasing funeral drumbeats of crimes against women of all ages makes ones hair stand on end. Shifting the focus on India, every village has a wounded tale of sorrows to tell, a bone-chilling tale of doom and gloom which does not have a happy ending. Hathras is only a tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, when the fair sex becomes the villain on the screen of the patriarchy society and the foot-loose and fancy-free boys becomes the heroes, what can be worst than the saga of a miscarriage of justice given by a family to their own daughter, reeling before one’s eyes?  

According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India  a crime against woman is committed every three minutes. All the gory details in terms of numbers given by NCRB says a woman or a girl is raped every 15 minutes in India. 70% of women are victims of domestic violence. 38% of Indian men admit they have physically abused their partners. These statistics are Grody to the max and cannot be disputed by any political party, whether in power or out of power.

As per the research of global experts by Thomson Reuters Foundation, in 2018 India was ranked most dangerous country for women followed by Afghanistan. Pakistan was at 6th place and USA was at 10th place. India had occupied fourth place in the similar survey in 2011.  Again 2011 saw 228,650 reported incidents of crime against women, while in 2015, there were over 300,000 reported incidents. It is assumed that the actual count could be five times more in 2020, as over 70% of the cases go unreported. This is due to the threat of ridicule or shame on the part of the potential reporter, as well as an immense pressure not to damage the family’s honour. For similar reasons, law enforcement officers are more motivated to accept offers of bribery from the family of the accused, or perhaps in fear of more grave consequences of losing their positions.  It can also be blamed on poor investigation or protecting the perpetrator of crime on whose head there is a hand of a political saviour. Eventually a complaint in regards to crimes against women becomes hostage to fortune as everyone is out to out-Herod Herod in nailing only the victim. And   even if a complaint is registered, justice is delivered only when hell freezes over.

History has it from a fly in the amber that man considers woman his property but not an asset. The gall and wormwood, the misogyny, like a red flag shown to a bull during bullfight leaves a sour taste of downgrading the credibility of a women in an Indian society. A boy first and the girl last or no girl at all, when such prejudicial preferences are seen from womb to tomb, life of a woman in India becomes no oil painting. India’s Gender Inequality Index rating is the lowest compared to the other civilised nations which  makes India falls  very  short of international standards. And the irony of it all is that no efforts are made to change this picture. Is it only in Ramayana and Mahabharata that women should be treated as Goddesses? The reverence and admiration should be found only in the scriptures and the Holy books?

Measures such as enforcing stringent laws, special helplines to the helpless, deploying women police force where needed, night patrolling in areas prone to attacks on women, establishing fast-track courts, educating women of their rights, free legal counselling, assistance through shelter homes and giving boost to NGOs that endeavour to help the victims of crimes will bring a change to a great extent.

But above all it is the mindset of our society that needs to change. That a woman deserves to be treated equally or at par with a man is the mindset that needs to  change first.

Unless the perpetrators of any crime  against women is not made to realise that crime does not pay, unless justice is not delivered  at a lightning speed to the victims of heinous crimes, all the talks, debates and rallies on such issues, the  empathies and sympathies towards the victims and slogans like ‘Beti  bachao, Beti  padhao’ ( save the  girl child, educate the girl child)  will be seen only a move towards  milking  the political cow.

Instead of asking is my country safe for all the women, it’s time for every Indian to ask conscientiously, do I make all the women feel safe in my country?

(The writer is a Commerce and Law Graduate, Goan writer and Goa state Youth Awardee)

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