The Unsafe Sex: Violence Against Women in India
In 2012, India was shaken by the horrific rape of Nirbhaya – it seemed as if society had at last taken cognizance of women’s safety. However, in 2018, we continue to fight the same evils, which have shown no signs of containment despite the roars of agitation, explores Madhupriti Mitra.
In the developing world, India is among the most populous countries. While on the international arena India has achieved acclaim for its various feats in economic development, back home, a dangerous rape culture is permeating through society, also gaining a tainted global reputation. Naturally then, over the years, surviving in Indian cities as a female has become a palpable fear with the escalating number of rape cases in the country.
"I run this tea stall to fulfil our basic needs and for that, I have to leave my daughters alone at home. After many such horrific incidents, I feel insecure, leaving them at home is also no longer a full-proof safe option," said Swati Gaur, a mother of two daughters who runs a tea stall in South Delhi, expressing a fearthat is not uncommon today.
Swati is not alone, women from different walks of life have expressed their deep concern over this issue.
"Hearing about incidents of rape have become an everyday affair. It is not just a heinous crime, it is an inhuman act. The safety of females, whether it be a newborn or an aged lady, has been heavily compromised. The only way out is immediate punishment of the offender, to set an example for society" said Swetha, an Amity student.
"Sexual harassment, rape, assaults and gender-based violence are a result of the rape culture pervading our society. There are strict rules and amendments in other countries but we don't seem to be doing enough. There are psychological undertones of men's sexual deprivation and powerplay, it all needs more investigation," emphasised Ambika, a gerontologist and clinical psychologist.
NIRBHAYA RAPE CASE (2012)
Who could've apprehended that a well-spent day for a medical student would soon turn into the darkest night of her life? On the night of December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya was beaten, gang-raped and tortured in a private bus she had boarded with her friend from South Delhi. There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom raped the woman and physically assaulted her friend. Eleven days after battling for life, Nirbhaya succumbed to her injuries.
Nirbhaya seemed to have sparked a sense of cognizance among the authorities and civil society, as this gory nightmarish incident led to nationwide protests. Nirbhaya had to die a most pathetic death for the rape of women to receive some recognition in society – such is our world today. Despite this immediate outcry, even today, in 2018, women in India are vulnerable to the wrath of monstrous men who are butchering the dignity of women, whether she is six or sixty, across the length and breadth of our country.
Despite the government's various steps, incidents of rape continue unabated. Two more such incidents that occurred in the last year, in Unnao and Kathua, have equally shaken the country to its core reinstating the need to reignite the debate on sexual violence as a national agenda.
UNNAO RAPE CASE (2017)
On June 4, 2017, a 17-year-old girl stated in her complaint that she had been raped in the house of Kuldeep Singh Sengar, an MLA of Uttar Pradesh. According to her complaint, the incident unfolded after she had entered the accused's house seeking his assistance in finding employment. Her statement was recorded by the police on June 22, but they did not allow her to name her assailant. On April 5, 2018, the woman's father was arrested and placed in judicial custody, allegedly after he was assaulted by supporters of Sengar. Four days later, the woman attempted to immolate herself in front of the residence of UP CM Yogi Adityanath stating that the police had taken no action against the accused. A day later, on April 9, her father died in the hospital due to his injuries, leading to the arrest of Atul Sengar (brother of Kuldeep Sengar) and the suspension of six police officers. The death and the immolation attempt led to widespread outrage, only after which an FIR was registered against Kuldeep Sengar.
KATHUA RAPE CASE (2018)
On January 10, 2018, the father of an eight-year-old girl registered a complaint with the police when his daughter didn't return home after grazing their horses. A week later, the deceased body of the young girl was found by the villagers, a few kilometres away from the village. On investigating, it was uncovered that she had been brutally gang-raped, abducted and drugged by eight men in a temple.
According to the forensic reports, the girl had been raped multiple times by different men, after which she had been strangled to death and hit in the head with a heavy stone. This horrific incident, which had undertones of political motivation, witnessed nationwide outrage; nevertheless, no promise of an end to the rape culture has yet been negotiated.
JAGANNATH TEMPLE RAPE
A temple, the code of sanctity, has been ripped off every religious motivation after cases of rape have been reported from inside holy temple compounds. Yes, rape incidents inside temples took birth way before the Kathua rape case. In another barbaric incident, an 11-year-old physically challenged girl was allegedly raped inside the Jagannath Temple in Orissa last year. The incident took place when the minor girl stepped inside the temple at a time when the shrine was virtually deserted. Soon after, the 28-year-old accused escorted her to the bathing mandap and raped her without an iota of conscience. The incident outraged angry locals who assaulted the accused before handing him over to the police.
POCSO ACT 2012
The Union Cabinet, just a few weeks ago, cleared the ordinance on POCSO, whereby the death penalty will be directed to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years of age. The Centre has cleared the criminal law amendment ordinance and the POCSO Act is a part of this amendment. Demands for the death penalty to a rapist accused of raping a minor took centre-stage after two separate cases of gang-rape took place in Jammu & Kashmir's Kathua and Uttar Pradesh's Unnao, leading to massive outrage across the country. The Centre has increased minimum punishment in the case of rape from seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. It said that in the case of gang-rape of a girl below 12 years, the punishment will be life imprisonment or death sentence. The new Act enlists a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished. The Act makes abetment of child sexual abuse an offence. It also provides for various procedural reforms, making the tiring process of trial in India considerably easier for children.
CRIME AGAINST WOMEN (2016-18)
With rape, molestation and eve-teasing cases being reported regularly in the capital, the arrest of people has also increased with more than 1,300 persons being booked in 2018. The data accessed by Millennium Post till April 15, stated that more than 500 accused were arrested on rape charges whereas over 700 persons were nabbed under the charges of molestation. Over 120 persons were also arrested for eve-teasing.
The police data claimed that around 3,672 accused were arrested for their involvement in rape cases from the year 2016 to August 2017, whereas more than 6,000 people were arrested on the charges of molestation.Recent data by Delhi Police claimed that more than 1,600 cases of crime against women were registered with them between January and April this year.
The data, recorded till April 15, states that 578 rape cases have been reported, while 883 cases of molestation have been registered in the Capital. Moreover, Delhi Police registered 182 cases of eve-teasing. The law enforcement agency has also tightened its noose on criminals, as the data claimed that 1,123 of these cases have been solved. "460 rape cases have been solved, whereas 561 cases of molestation and 102 cases of eve-teasing have also been worked out," states the data.
Though the police are on track in resolving the cases reported, our society shows no signs of remorse or correction. Women are still not safe, not even behind the four walls of their homes. Like the POCSO ordinance, several more bold and immediate measures are essential to overcome the rampancy of this heinous crime to ensure a life of dignity to the women of our country.