Alarming and normalization of rape culture in India
According to National Family health survey conducted and released by Union Health Ministry, every third women face violence of different kind in this India. This survey comes up with some surprising details that 27% of women have suffered from the physical violence since the age 15, writes Mukhtyar Ahmad
“Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact, she was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words, some of the most profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips; in real life she could hardly read, could scarcely spell, and was the property of her husband” ― Virgina Woolf, A room of one’s own (1929), a lecture series.
Violence affects women ubiquitously. It effects women’s health, obstructs their ability to contribute fully in society, their enjoyment/pleasure of sexual and procreative health, rights, freedom and act as a source of physical and psychological pain for both women and their families. Women all over the world, regardless of their position, age group, class, caste or religion, face violence in almost all domains of life, whether in the home, at school, at work, on the street, or in govt as well as non-governmental institutions, or in times of conflict or war crisis. Violence exists through the lifetime of a woman, as a daughter, as wife, as mother she faces tremendous amount of sufferings and torture both physical and mental. Though, some groups of women experience various forms of discernment, for instance women with disabilities, migrant women because of disturbance by conflict or war and, bisexual, lesbian and transgender, who are principally vulnerable to violence. E.g., they experience violence because their sexual orientation.
Violence has many shadows which include physical, mental, domestic, and sexual and many more. In India where patriarchy is seen as the hereditary character and masculinity is defined in many ways. India has very poor reputation in the international community when it comes to the safety and rights of women. In our society women faces enormous sufferings including physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual assault, honour killings, acid attacks, dowry related abuse and deaths. We witnessed gender-based violence both at the Public as well as private spheres. It is frequently under-reported because of general social barriers, and formal contrivances to address it remain unproductive. According to National Family health survey conducted and released by Union Health Ministry, every third women face violence of different kind in this India. This survey comes up with some surprising details that 27% of women have suffered from the physical violence since the age 15.
Rape crimes against women and minor girls are growing rapidly. It raises some serious question. Has the brutalisation of women risen alarmingly? Reports of the mass molestation witnessed in Bihar recently, where molesters trying to strip the girl and bystanders shooting the incident which went viral on social media indicates how such incidents have been normalized in certain parts. To know the heave in rapes, their number almost doubled. Since 2001 till present we need to go through the criminal code procedure to turn the pages and find the punishment for culprits. No single day passes without reporting of the rape incidents in any part of India.
We witnessed some gruesome and gut-wrenching incidences of rape crimes in India. In Dec- 2012, India experienced brutal crime of Nirbhaya rape and murder case that traumatised India as well as world with its brutality. Six years on, the incidences of rape and murder cases, in India continue to rise with an alarming rate. What are the factors accountable to this and what should be done to combat the problem? For me it is terrible inefficiency of the administrative and judicial system which poses daunting challenges. This serious concern and the debate over the sexual violence (rape and murder) once again raise when an eight-year-old minor tribal girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir meet the same fate as did the Nirbhaya in Delhi. This disturbing incident of assault on an infant has shaken India and made national headlines. The range of her wounds has dismayed many and impelled them to wonder whether we have reached a new low. Story doesn’t end here, weeks after this incident make huge outrage on social media, and the 11-month-old baby fell prey of one of her relative in Madhya Pradesh. Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes in the Indian express (Kathua Unnao; shame on us April 13, 2018) the reality is that our outrage cannot last. As it did with Nirbhaya, it will eventually fade.
There has also been a change in outlooks of these incidents – sexual attacks and rapes have become topics of living room conversations and debated only when some horrible and inhuman act is done against woman or minor girl for that matter. Rape and murder, sexual attacks have been noticed every day across the country.
The failure of the administrative system to act against the growing brutalities against women irked the public who with no option left went for protest and demonstrations after the parliament passed the law, capital punishment against the minor rapist. But the question is what about the safety of women and does it combat the rape culture? Does this selective Justice combat the sexual brutalities against women? In Unnao, ruling party MLA is booked for rape, what if the law makers become law breaker? These are some questions which need to be addressed carefully. Because securing justice for women in this country is easier said than done.
Challenge for the securing and deliverance of Justice is lack of trust in the Police force, the snail speed working of judicial system, and finally growing criminalization of politics, which dents any serious effort to reform India’s broken criminal justice system. These challenges accompanied with other factors such as high pendency of cases and slow conviction rate which worsen the situation. The very common reason for this is: India’s overloaded police and judicial system. Equated to other large emerging markets of the world, India has far less policemen and judges, against the size of its 1.3 billion populations.
India needs to establish the fast-tracked justice system, and need to reform the existing laws for women safety and combat the growing rape culture. Undoubtedly, much work remains to be done, throughout India. Public force, political will, and functional law enforcement systems all required in place to address the problem effectively and efficiently. No amount of vigils or speeches will address the problem of new rape culture in the absence of significant political and judicial reform with immediate effect. Rape should not be used as political tool as in recent past national parties started blame game instead of condemnation these Kathua and Unnao shameful and horrible acts.
Author is research scholar in the Department of Geography Bhagwant University, Rajasthan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.