SEXUAL OFFENCES AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA
“She was powerful, not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strongly despite the fear” — Unknown
India is one of the most dangerous countries for sexual violence against women, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation 2018 survey.
Research, which measures sexual and non-sexual violence, discrimination, cultural traditions, health care, and human trafficking, has been criticized for reflecting more perception than data.
Globally, one in three women suffers from intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence during life. Intimate partner violence, female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage and gun violence, sex, and sexual violence are a major global public health problem, basically a barrier to women’s empowerment and gender equality and a constraint on individual development and its social development, with high economic costs. Globally, seven percent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, and up to 38% of murders are committed by an intimate partner.
India is a dangerous place to be a woman. The men here raped eight-month-old babies and a 100-year-old woman. It is a rape culture in which girls are required to dress to avoid “invitation to trouble” and “shame” by normalizing male predatory behavior. To change this, Indians need to redirect women’s discourse to the real issue: men. In the meantime, the Government of India must quickly establish a separate law enforcement unit for crimes against women.
According to government data, almost four women are raped every hour in this country. Realistically speaking, this means that only 90 women every day find the courage to report that they have been sexually abused. The actual number – probably much higher – is never captured, as many rapes are not reported, buried under shame, confusion and fear.
Also, public data show that most rapes are often committed by people known to the victim, including family and neighbors. To report this often risks inviting stigma on the victim and not on the accused, because, in our culture of rare rape, some of us question the victim’s behavior that brought predators.
For the brave few who go beyond this social attack, there are still many troubles – from tricky cops, legal cases that continue for months, and even deaths. Most recently, a 23-year-old girl from Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, was injured after five men, including rape, were chased and burned alive while she was on her way to meet his lawyers in the morning. This was not the first attempt to offend her.
In Telangana, a 27-year-old veterinarian was burned after being gang-raped. The suspects were arrested and subsequently killed in an alleged police “encounter”. Applauded by the public, this “justice as revenge” was condemned by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Despite all this, the speech focused on women. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao told transport workers to keep working women away from night roles – to ensure that the onus to stay safe is on women. This is a wrong approach. Men have to be held accountable for a problem that has everything to do with them and nothing to do with women. This issue is a culture of misogyny, aggression, and sexual abuse normalized to women.
To even begin an attempt to change this, we need a robust conversation around men, who need to start in schools, public forums, and high offices. Boys should be taught that it is wrong to speak contemptuously of women, to feel girls upward, to make weak remarks, and to look at them. This cannot be left to parents alone.
It should be a part of the school curriculum starting with the primary school, in which the attitudes are modeled. For older students, gender awareness classes and tests should be mandatory. Violence against women is so deeply rooted in India that this awareness should be prioritized as much as basic reading and writing skills. Girls should be encouraged to be strong, vocal, and intolerant of violations, no matter how small.
Most importantly, civil servants and role models must stop blaming women for their choice of clothing or work hours, as this does nothing to make India safer for women.
Instead, it beautifies the male eagle’s behavior and robs women of their potential, forcing them to reduce their work or leisure activities.
In the meantime, the most immediate solution is to set up a special law enforcement group to deal with sexual offenses. The heavily overloaded, largely desensitized, and routinely drawn police force in India in different directions can no longer be counted on to devote the time and dedication needed to tackle this deep and wide-ranging social problem.
The government should set up a special unit, which will recruit and train officers specifically to deal with sexual offenses and create easy access to doctors, medical experts, rape survivors, and psychologists. This will help victims feel confident in coming before they seek justice. All these offenses must be handled by this unit within one month, using the fast courts. Predators must know that justice is fast and favorable to victims. India’s efforts to reduce sexism should eliminate the disappearance of women and bring in attitudes not to dominate the female force.
Author: Nishtha .,
Trinity institute of professional studies