Crime Against Women in India
Our societies continue to experience crime against women in India despite the efforts of the government to toughen bills that prosecute men who attempt to rape women and also criminalize offenses like stalking and voyeurism.
On 16 of December 2012, a 23 years old paramedic student in India’s capital-New Delhi was brutally assaulted and gang-rapped, shading a spotlight on crimes against women in the country. For the first time, there was a furious outrage, emotional outburst as the general public, both men and women demanded safety and protection of women in the country. They were demanding changes to be made, a change in attitude towards women and a change in the demeaning gender laws that have not favored women for decades, plus they wanted a speedy justice to be executed on rapists so that they could be brought to book as soonest. Yet still, other protesters wanted offenders of this nature punished through a death penalty.
A young woman based in Bengaluru was quoted saying “that rapists in India are certain that they can always get away with such crimes” (which is evidence that there are no strict laws that protect women), and unless laws are put in place to bring wrong-doers to book and deliver justice speedily, crimes of that nature will continue to escalate.
Crimes against women
According to statistics from the National Crime Record Bureau, gender-based issues are getting worse. Women have been relegated with secondary status within the community and households. Even the literacy level of women is only at 54%, compared to that of men which is at 76%. Crime is one of the main reasons that hinders women empowerment in India.
The negative effects of the oppressive societal values are as follows:
- Women are forced to get married at a tender age
- They are expected to fend for themselves while taking charge of the domestic chores
- They become malnourished since they are always expected to serve themselves last, after every member of household has received their potion
- They suffer from unfair and biased inheritance and divorce laws
- Women are not able to accumulate any substantial amount of asset, making it pretty difficult for them to establish their own financial security
And worse still, studies conducted as from the year 2010 show that crimes against women have risen in the recent past by 7.1%. Again, there has been a sharp increase in the number of rape case recorded each year. The National Crime Record Bureau recorded 24,206 case of rape in 2011 alone, which indicated a rise of 9% from the previous year. It still indicated that more than half of the victims of such rape incidences appeared to fall between 18-30 years of age.
These figures continued to point out that 10.6% of the victims of rape were young girls under the age of 14, while 19% were teenagers between 14 and 18. Shockingly, in the 94.2% of the cases reported, offenders were known to the victims. They included their family members, relatives and neighbours.
According to the Indian Penal Code, crimes against women include rape, kidnapping and abduction, homicide for dowry, molestation, torture, sexual harassment and importation of girls.
In 2011, over 200,000 cases of crimes against women were reported. At the time, the North Eastern city of Tripura recorded the highest number of these crimes at 37%, compared to the national average crime rate of only 18.9%.
During the same period, both kidnappings and trafficking rose by 19 and 122 percent respectively.
And how about those crimes against women that go unreported? One might ask. It’s not a surprise that ‘eve teasing’ or harassment, heckling and sexual innuendos against Indian women in public places like cinema halls, public transport, alongside rape of women and minors in the villages go unrecorded.
Going by the records, Madhya Pradesh, a state in India with a large population of tribes recorded over 3000 rape cases, which was considered the highest number of such offence in 2011.
Generally, what has been happening in India has attracted the attention of the world as a whole, and only strict measures implemented by both the government and external forces can bring the change that women have yearned for.
It’s a fact that many rape incidences go unreported, and that’s according to legal experts in the country. Due to what is called ”family honour”, several complaint files are withdrawn and in most cases, the police don’t give a fair hearing. Again, medical evidences go unrecorded making it easy for criminals to pass scot free under the prevailing conditions.
But it’s quite alarming that outside the legal rooms of India, it is very common for Kangaroo courts to advise victims to marry off the criminals in an attempt to ”preserve them” honour. And in some cases, rape is used to settle local disputes and caste issues.
What’s worse, the maximum sentence of a rapist continues to remain unclear under the prevailing laws. It’s a challenge because there’s a huge debate on whether or not to introduce death sentence for rape offenders. One side argues that it could bring down the rate of rape crime against women in India, while the other side says this will lead to massive killings of rape victims in an attempt to escape the death penalty. However, protesters all over the country are demanding that the government should amends the Archaic laws.
In an effort to curb the problem of rape and other violent activities against women, the government formed a 3-member panel of legal experts to amend the laws. And this time, India’s capital city-Delhi, become the centre of focus. In fact, it has even been nicknamed ”rape capital of India”. Some of the measures that the government has put in place to tame these criminals include:
- Carrying out night patrols
- Thorough supervision and checks on public utilities such as the transport system, bus drivers and their assistants.
- Vehicle with tinted windows or curtains have also been banned
- Posting of photos of people convicted with such crimes on official government website to deter people who may want to commit such crimes.
- The Delhi government has also set up a committee that is responsible for the task of speeding up cases related to sexual assault against women
The culture of patriarchy
While reforms and affirmative action to deal with violence against women may be a feasible solution, these crimes are strongly associated with traditions of patriarchy and repressive attitude that prevail across the masses.
Rahul Roy, in his blog ”kafila” says that masculinities provide an ideological basis for impunity to be legalized and practiced. That way, crimes against women have to be much easier because men believe that they can only express their masculinity by bringing fear and hatred to the feminine close to their heart.
Thanks to the NGOs who are working hard to address the problem of crime against women in India and make women rise amid such chaotic conditions. As a result of the massive protest that followed the killing of the medical student, the agitation by the crowd sparked public debates in the media about how both the government and policymakers should find ways of stopping such crimes. The societal changes in India are being engineered by women getting access to better education and jobs. They are also taking it to the streets to demand their rights of being able to walk freely without the fear of men.