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Millennium Post

India’s hall of shame!

Hindus believe in millions of female gods. Every year more than 15 million pilgrims visit Vaishno Devi, the goddess of Shakti. People from west think that worship of goddesses by Hindus reflect their respect for the female gender. But how true is this in our country - A country where a woman is raped every 54 minutes. Statistics are even more shocking in the capital where a rape is committed every 18 hours.  

On 16 December 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was beaten and gang raped in Delhi. Thirteen days later while the girl succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital, where she had been shifted for specialised treatment. The brutal attack on the victim and her male companion by the rapists shook the conscience of the people and led to spontaneous and non-political demonstrations across the country, with agitators demanding severe punishment for the culprits, stringent law against offenders and higher security for women.

Statistics reveal that atrocities against women are rising alarmingly with each passing year. On one hand the nation is moving towards higher literacy rate and greater prosperity for the middle class and on the other hand, crime against women has witnessed a sharp increase and that too in urban India. What is the cause for the increasing violence against our mothers, sisters and daughters? Recent media debates, panel discussions and demonstrations at various places in India indicate that rape, beside being a law and order issue, also reflects the attitude and mind-set of an average India against half of its population. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need for reforms in police so that the force remains motivated and acts for the people and do not turn into perpetrators of crime themselves as has been witnessed in many cases in the  recent past.

There is also another aspect which requires immediate attention of the government. There is an urgent need to clear the backlog of pending cases of crimes against women in various courts across the country, so that justice can be done to the victim. There have been demands for capital punishment and chemical castration for rapists from a larger section of people. Human rights activists have raised their voices against such a move. There is a need to strike a balance and therefore there is greater responsibility than ever before in the history of Independent India upon the parliamentarians to rise to the occasion and draft a new statute to deal with this kind of abuse.

But can a stringent law alone be the remedy to a disease which stems from the attitude of the male population towards its female counterpart? Of course a stricter law, speedy trial and higher conviction rate of the culprit will act as a deterrent for criminals. At the same time basic education at our homes, in our schools and colleges, in our institutions, in our parliament and places of public importance is needed.

We need to teach and learn to accept women as equals and show them the dignity and respect they deserve. Right from our childhood most of us worship female power in the form of some goddess. However, from that very childhood we also learn how to comply with the deep-rooted discrimination in society. There is an urgent need to bring about that change in our homes to immediately stop discrimination between the boy and the girl child. Female foeticide has been prevalent in Indian society for hundreds of years and has now become an issue of national debate.

Nothing has been done in terms of strict legislation nor has it been condemned in society. Probably this is the starting point for crime against women in our pseudo society.

Our mothers, our fathers and grand parents need to educate their children right from the beginning that boys and girls are both part of that almighty that we all worship and are equally important for survival of mankind. The very existence of a man depends upon a woman as she undergoes the pain to deliver the child. Any crime committed against any woman is a crime committed against our own mother, sister and daughter.

We as a society need to mature in this hour of crisis when the whole world looks at India as a nation of murderers and rapists where morning newspapers report a daughter being raped by a father or a 7-year-old school girl raped by her teacher, where newspaper headlines reports that a sister has been brutally raped by her step brother. We cannot allow India, the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Gautam Buddha, Lord Mahavir, Krishna and many prominent women to perish under demons who have temporarily cast their evil shadow on our society.

It is time for each one of us to act,  irrespective of the caste to which we belong, the religion which we practice and the language we speak. It is time that we speak one language and practice the religion of humanity.

Vikas Gupta is an advocate

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