On Sep 13, 2013, a High Court judge conferred a death sentence upon the four men involved in the brutal gang rape of 23-year old paramedical student, who died 13 days after the horrendous incident while undergoing an emergency treatment in Singapore.
The incident sparked a national outrage and the much disturbed Indian population finally came onto streets to display their open revolt against such heinous crimes. This atrocious crime along with string of similar assaults on Indian women since then, have ignited international attention to the soaring problem of sexual violence in India. Though various reforms in the Indian Judiciary have been made for imposing callous penalties on rapists, they are yet to yield results.
With shocking 1,121 rape cases in eight months (Jan-Aug 2013) reported in the national capital alone, New Delhi has earned the title of being the ‘rape-capital’ of India. Sadly, violence against women in India is deep-rooted and widespread. What could be the possible reasons for such disrespect of women in the country? Here’s presenting a few issues that make curbing sexual violence in India so difficult:
“My Cloths Do Not Define My Character”
It is indeed cheap Indian mentality to assume that victims of sexual violence invited trouble on themselves. According to the 1996 survey of Indian judges, surprising 68% of the total respondents agreed that provocative clothing was an invitation to rape.
In response to the December 16 gang rape in New Delhi, a so called educated legislator in Rajasthan recommended banning of skirts as private school uniforms for girls, citing it as one main reason for increased sexual harassment cases.
“Whenever one person stands up and says – ‘wait a minute, this is wrong’ – it helps others to do the same”
It’s no surprise that India has been ranked as one of the worst countries for women by The Reuters Trust Law group. According to the 2012 UNICEF report, about 53% of Indian girls and 57% of Indian boys between the age group of 15 – 19, think that beating a wife is normal and justified. Also, as per a national family health survey, a sizeable percent of women blame themselves for getting bashings from their husbands.
“It’s about time law enforcement got as organized as organized crime”
Women in India are not safe outside their homes and some don’t feel secure at home as well. Indian authorities blatantly admit that the country’s public places are unsafe for women. According to a report by Women and Child Development Ministry, most of the Indian streets are poorly lit and there’s also a lack of women’s toilets, making it highly unsafe for women to travel around, especially during the night.
Women who fag or booze are widely considered as morally loose in the Indian society and according to the village councils, women talking on cell phones and going to the local markets are responsible for increasing rape incidents.
“Society teaches don’t get raped rather than don’t rape”
Incidents where groping or verbal harassments takes place at public places, it is a common Indian mentality to turn faces rather than intervene. There are two reasons for the same – first, bystanders do not wish to enter into any conflict and second they actually blame the victim for the situation.
If that was not enough, various politicians make such remarks that vilify the victims’ supporters.
“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”
Last year, a 17-year old teenage girl who was allegedly gang-raped ended her life after she and her family were pressurized by the local police officials to drop the case and compromise by marrying one of her attackers.
This is especially a common practice in Indian villages, where the elders and clan councils suggest dropping of charges and compromise with the family of the accused by getting married to the attacker. These compromises are aimed to maintaining peace between the families involved.
“All you had to do was say so!”
In India, it is believed that many of the rape cases go unreported and the few which do get reported face a conviction rate of not more than 26 percent. Disappointingly, there is no law in Indian judiciary books, which covers a form of sexual harassment that occurs on a daily basis, euphemistically called as “eve-teasing”.