Indian society has always been solidly patriarchal.As women refuse to subscribe to traditional gender roles, as they seek to educate themselves, take up jobs outside the home, choose their own marriage partners, and in other ways assert their independence, they face a patriarchal backlash. Sometimes the assault comes from within the family; at other times, from the larger society.
In recent years, there have been a series of attacks against women across the country. The surge in attacks on women is likewise an angry attempt by men to sustain the overwhelming social and political dominance they have long enjoyed but which is now challenged by modern notions of gender justice.
Every year, millions of young men move from the countryside to the city in search of jobs. Not all these men get regular employment (for economic growth has been capital- rather than labour-intensive). Meanwhile, they are confronted far more directly by a culture of conspicuous consumption than they were in their villages. Dissatisfied and disenchanted, they vent their anger on women.
Not a day passes when unspeakable crimes against women are not reported from the bustling cities and villages. Or to be more specific, according to Delhi Police statistics a woman is raped every 18 hours in the national capital. Indian women are not safe by any means. Sexual violence is a threat that looms large for transgressions ranging from daring to be out at night (as in the 2012 Delhi gangrape) to having the audacity to question a social evil (as in the case of Bhanwari Devi who was gangraped for working against child marriage practiced by the upper-castes in her village).
What does the law say?
• Article 21 of the Indian Constitution lays down the right of every person to life and liberty.
• The Indian Penal Code terms sexual harassment and assaults as an offence under Section 354A to 354D and 376A to 376D.
• The Indian government brought the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence in 2005.
• In 1992, the government formed the National Commission for Women (NCW), a separate body for protecting and promoting the interests of women.
Impediments to justice
For one, many perpetrators of crimes against women get away with relatively light punishment. The minimum sentence for a rapist is a mere seven years in prison. As for marital rape? It’s not even considered a crime. Apart from that, many cases of rape go unreported, in others culprits pay a fine and walk free.
The manner in which some courts have interpreted the law has often proved an obstacle in justice. Problems range from poor investigations, harsh cross examinations of the victims and senseless adjournments of cases to a woman’s evidence without corroboration not being considered sufficient. Women’s organisations and the government intervene only if a case is high-profile or has generated media interest. The irony is that there is no pro-active step from the government or any organisation to bring a visible major policy shift with respect to law and justice.
Those of us in society, bystanders who do nothing, are just as guilty. We let such violations of human rights happen right under our noses.
It is time we put an end this. Be a man. Stand up for women whenever you see someone misbehave with them in public. It is a strange girl right now; it could be your sister, mother or your girlfriend next. Wake up India.
Feel free to share your Thoughts, Experiences,Comments, Etc in any in the comment section below.I would really like to hear from you.