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Beti Bachao…

Beti Bachao…

A wave of public protests after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in December 2012 jolted many in India as well as in other countries. Has the situation improved after that? No, not at all! The statistics available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) are not updated after 2013-2014.

Many Women's Rights groups say that the reported figures are still gross underestimates, as many victims remain reluctant to report crimes such as rape or domestic violence for fear that their families and communities will shun them. According to statistics, every 20 minutes a girl is raped in India. Over 34,600 cases of rape have been reported across the country last year with Madhya Pradesh and Delhi topping the infamous list of states and union territories respectively. Among the total number of cases, in 33,098 cases the offenders were known to the victims, as per NCRB data.

The rape victims are among the age group of below six years to over 70 years. Nearly 3.27 lakh cases of crimes against women were reported across the country. Of these over 1.3 lakh were sexual offences–1.2 lakh in states and 9,445 in union territories. The sexual offences cases included rape, attempt to commit rape, assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty and insult to modesty of women.

Reports of the mass molestation of women in Bengaluru on the New Year eve this year in the presence of a posse of police cannot be dismissed as an isolated episode if juxtaposed with subsequent rapes in the same city, an upsurge in gang rapes and rapes of minor girls by relatives and neighbours that result in tragic deaths in most cases.

Women are unwilling to report even those incidents that fit the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Sometimes this is due to their successful resistance and the ambiguous feelings that they have about whether the harm that was inflicted reached the level of a criminal act, and their doubts about the integrity of the system to which they have to report. Although media coverage of sexual violence and rapes has increased significantly after the ghastly rape in December 16, 2012, there are reporting biases.

Many blame the way modern women dress and the way they look as reasons for the increase in rapes in India. Then what about the man who raped a three year old girl? Will wearing sari and covered clothes stop man from assaulting and harassing women? It is not about what a woman wears, it is about the dirty mentality and male ego that wants to control a woman and her life. No reason in the world could justify the crime of raping and molesting the women. What could be the reasons for the alarming increase in sexual abuse? The Listotop website gives some solid reasons for increasing rape cases in India:

Western Culture: Every time a woman suffers a case of molestation, it has become a usual tendency of people to point the influence of western culture for the heinous act. Most of the time the politicians are caught saying that the reason behind the crime is the western style dressing or the western culture. Instead of blaming the culprit and punishing him, our people are more of interested in making the rape victim feel that the mistake is on her side.

Mentality/Social System: India has one of the lowest sex ratio in terms of girls. Boys are preferred over girls and female infanticide is most common practice to get rid of girls in India. The cultural upbringing of boys in our society teaches them that they are superior to girls. It is this cruel tradition which has constructed men as aggressive and women as   s ubmissive . This has led men to believe that they own women and gives them a sense of control. Rapes are the symptom of deep seated patriarchal and gender discrimination in our society which has a serious distorting effect on men’s attitude and behaviour towards women.

Cowardliness of people: When women are harassed in public places, the by-standers look other way rather than helping the victims. They feel insecure about their so called respect and what people will think and speak of them. For the public the so called esteem is more important than the justice to the survivor of the crime. At times when someone dares to report the act, the witnesses forbid that person from speaking the truth. In most cases the victims do not even tell the peers about what they had gone through, due to the useless and insensible social structure that leaves them as  unacceptable  by the society.

Submissiveness: Indian culture teaches a girl from her tender age to compromise and not compete with men. Be it for the sake of her brother, father, family or her future husband. She is always told that men are always right. This leaves an everlasting impression on the women that make them submissive. Women are not able to fight back and accept the misdeed as the dark part of their life. Women are often threatened or blackmailed of being raped again and exposed in public. Since long our women have been taught to accept the domestic violence which often leads to the sexual violence, as part of the household chores.

Blame the victim: In India, people mostly blame the victim instead of the culprit. Women are asked to marry the culprit or attacker so as to maintain peace in the family and the clan. 90 percent of the rapes in India do not even get reported due to the pressure from the family who in order to maintain their respect and esteem pressurize women to compromise. Blaming and pressurizing the women instead of the offender gives the criminal more vigour to continue his acts of shamefulness.

Police Force: Failure to provide security to the women has been a serious concern since long. There is lack of police force to safeguard the interests of general public. Also our police forces have less number of female police officers that makes it almost impossible for the victim to explain her issues. Most of the time Indian police even lack the basic training and equipment required to investigate the case and gather evidences. Another important reason why women do not trust the police is that many rapes and sexual violence continue to occur in the police custody.

Judiciary System: In India only 10 percent of total rape cases are reported and out of these only 24 percent see convictions. Today, culprits have no fear of conviction and punishment due to the sluggish nature of our judiciary system. Most of the times as the rape case reaches the conviction stage, the victim and witnesses either die or get tired of the slow and incapable judiciary system. There is no proper law and punishment for the rapists in our country – e.g. a minor rapist is not subjected to punishment under the Indian law. Also there is no law for the marital rapes.

Lack of values: Today families are disintegrating. Sacredness of marriage and the family-bond are no more considered important. Increasing number of divorces and broken-families give wrong values to the children. Education helps in shaping a person’s identity and personality. Today, Sex Education and Value Education have not become an integral part of the curriculum. Even if they are taught, it is considered as an extra-curricular subject. Hence students are often deprived of these valuable subjects. They learn the values neither in the family nor in the school. 

From the abortion of female foetuses, child marriage and dowry killings to rape and domestic violence, Indian girls and women face multiple threats, largely due to deep-rooted attitudes that view them as inferior to men. It is true that the rapists never consider the caste, colour, creed and nationality of the victim.

In the past the victims of the rape cases were mostly adolescent girls and women. Shockingly, today we see that the rapists’ targets include even young children of below 5 years. “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” is one of the pet schemes of the Prime Minister Modi. Today every child rape must be considered as a slap on his face. What measures has he and his government introduced to safeguard the “Betis”? Modi and his party are power-crazy and focus only on capturing more states. In the process “Beti” is no more in his mind and agenda. It is high time for the politicians, police and judiciary to wake up from their deep sleep or apathy and implement strict measures to protect the girl children – Beti Bachao!

(Published on 06th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 10)#