Plight of Women in India
Written by: Afia Ambreen
In India, there is no place for women. The Indians have always treated women poorly. Women are seen as cannon fodder in India and thus treated very badly. A huge number of Indians abort their daughters as they are deemed undesirable for reasons of marriage and labour help. Be it parks, colleges, streets or any other public places, girls do not feel safe anymore. With rape and molestation cases becoming common everyday, not a single girl or woman in India can claim that she has never been teased or hooted at while walking on road. Girls say they have to think twice before walking out on roads alone. Recently, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released a report stated that rape cases have increased from 386 in 2004 to 733 in 2011, with most years showing a higher count than the previous one. For cases of crime against Dalits, Haryana had a 13 per cent conviction rate in 2011. Over two dozen Dalit girls and women have been raped over the last one month, going by the State Crime Records Bureauís records for cases filed.
Rape cases in India have increased more than 10 per cent over the past five years, with weak laws, a lax justice system and insensitive policing blamed for the growing number. They show that in 2007, police across India registered 20,737 cases of rape compared to 19,384 in 2006. In the capital, New Delhi, there were 589 cases in 2007 and 623 in 2006. The states with the highest number of cases were Madhya Pradesh (3,010) and West Bengal (2,106). Women's rights groups and commentators have argued that the number of cases was actually much higher, but that most victims are afraid to report a rape due to the social stigma attached to a sexual assault and police apathy towards registering or investigating such cases.
Apart from rape, women in India are victim of almost all kinds of violence such as honour killings, domestic violence, abduction, dowry deaths etc. The women living in insurgency infested areas are victims of duel violence. On the one hand they are victimized by army personnel and on the other by rival ethnic groups. Similarly, women other than Hindus particularly Muslims and Christians are victims of hate crime. Not all sexual harassment and rape cases are reported in India. But by considering the reported cases it becomes evident that in India a women is raped every 29th minute. The NCRB unearthed some extremely disturbing trends in India. Statistics suggest that in 2005 around 50 women were raped and 480 molested and abducted every day. The gravity of the problem is that Indian laws are not very strict for such type of violence against women. No capital punishment is awarded in such cases. Apart from harassment, throwing strong acids such sulphuric acid on the face of the girls and women is rampant in India. This is the most heinous and severe punishment deserving crime. There is no separate law to deal with acid attackers in India.
Dowry deaths are also frequent in India. This is the worst crime against the women next to rape. A married girl is burnt to death or killed or tortured by her in-laws and husband for not providing enough gifts or money to them by her parents. Every day 50 cases of dowry related violence are reported and every 3rd minute a case of violence against women is registered in India. Apart from these several women in the tribal areas of India are killed on the pretext of practicing witchcraft. Low casts girls especially Dalits in their childhood are made Devdasis to serve God in the temple and they have to leave their home and stay in the temple complex. These girls grew up in the temples and are exploited afterwards. Honour killings are widespread in India and 95 percent of victims of such killings are women. Honour killings in India are classified broadly into two segments, those undertaken by families to protect the honour of individual families and those ordered by caste panchayats to protect caste honour. History of honour killings showed that the victims were beaten to death or pushed into a corn bin. In some cases, the women were asked to get into a narrow tunnel which would be covered with a slab so that they would die of suffocation. Women who were perceived to sully family honour were either murdered or forced to commit suicide. In some cases, unprivileged and dispossessed families living in a feudal society murdered girls the moment they felt they would not be able to protect them from the evil intentions of an all-powerful local zamindar or a chieftain.
There is a need that Indian government should take urgent measures to create awareness through education on the need to end such social crimes against women and initiate comprehensive measures to curb honour killings, acid attacking, rape and dowry deaths etc. In India, there is no respect for women, Dalits and minorities. The government needs to realize that acid attacks and other brutal assaults on women are a manifestation of an ingrained inequality. These attacks are not just about the women they target, they are also about the society that allows such attacks, the hierarchies it has internalized and the voices of protest it has silenced.