North, South, East, West – the spate of rapes continue in India with alarming regularity

Discriminatory attitude towards women may be the root cause.

By Rajiv Theodore

NEW DELHI: Certain incidents are increasingly becoming bizarre and incomprehensible. And it all adds up to reveal the cold fact that this country is not for women. It is not even a year after the chilling ‘Nirbhaya’ episode of a young girl being brutalized leading to her death, crime against women has only spiked to unimaginable levels.

Police statistics, which are conservative to a great extent, has this to say: There were 590 rape cases registered in 2012 and the police this year already registered 1,330 such cases, a whopping 250% rise. Molestation cases skyrocketed from 526 till October 15, 2012, to 2,844 cases, an increase of over 500%. And the friendly banters of top shot editors apart, then there are these serial violence and extreme cruelty against women and maidservants.

So much of crime against women (and remember what we hear is grossly under-reported), and you would expect the guardians of law to take stock of the situation and control such incidents but the reality is far away from that. These incidents listed below will vouch for the apathy of the authorities:

A shocking news trickled in from ‘’God’s own Country’ Thursday last. Billed as a safe destination by the Lonely Planet, a vacationing woman was raped at Kerala’s Poovar resort on Nov 28. Then in, Mumbai, which once boasted of its safety and broad-mindedness for women had its image repeatedly punctured. Months after the Shakti Mills Case when a photo-journalist was gang-raped, a tenth-class drop out was gang-raped in the financial capital recently. Two other gang-rapes were also reported last month from the millennium city.

And Gurgaon, Delhi’s satellite town which houses many multi-national firms reported three cases of rape in just 24 hours. A 20-year old, a 13-year-old girl and a 17-year –old were sexually assaulted in separate incidents.

And in a horrific incident in Assam, one which reminded anew of the ‘Nirbhaya rape, a young mother, who was on way to school to pick up her six-year-old daughter, was raped, mutilated, and her eyes gouged out with an iron rod by four men in a tempo. The woman died from her injuries.

And why these rapes, with alarming regularity and with so much impunity and devoid of any semblance of apathy, we are forced to ask. It is tough to answer. Pedantic answers do give an insight into the caste and class structure of a country rattled by years of living in a polarized world on the one hand and the justice and legal system of the country on the other.

The country’s political class has as usual failed to take stock of the situation just like many other myriad issues and is busy just sustaining themselves as the poll fever had gripped all and sundry for over a year. There was this Verma Committee which was set up after the death of ‘Nirbhaya’ to broaden the ambit of crimes against women and fast track justice. It was, however, just a beginning but a lack of political will has set forth sloth and indifference back into the system, allowing the brazenness of attacks we see on women.

The attacks on women have also let out another species who claim with all their might that the fault lies within. In other words, it is the women who invite trouble, wearing clothes in a manner they are not supposed to, tread zones likes pubs and discotheques beyond a time of the day, or commute from point a to point b at will. Respectable women are not raped, argue these moral police.

It is also seen that violence and utter disregard for women comes through a well-entrenched caste-system whose perpetrators obviously for selfish personal goals still insist on a lower position for women. This is despite the fact that women’s organizations do their bit to pull out women and their ilk from these abyss of Talibanization but it is still not enough.

Amnesty International has gone on record stating that the answer lies in creating far-reaching procedural and institutional reforms including that of the police force. Tara Rao, Director of Amnesty International India, was quoted as saying, “There must be concerted efforts to change the discriminatory attitudes towards women and girls which lie at the root of the violence. These measures will take hard work, but will be more effective in the long run in making India safer for women,” said Rao.

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