November 25 is observed by the United Nations (UN) as the day for “Elimination of violence against women” all over the world. And we are in the midst of observing 16 days of activism , from November 25 to December 10, the Human Rights Day, to end violence against women.
But on November 27, Hyderabad woke up to the ghastly incident of a a veterinary doctor being raped and murdered. The incident was much ghastlier than the one in 2012 in which a medical student, called “Nirbhaya” by the media, was brutally raped in Delhi. In the Hyderabad case, the girl was raped and murdered and taken to another place and burnt. . Her charred body was found on the street. Oh my dear country, how many more daughters, mothers, and children will have to undergo this????
Violence against women is reported world -wide. According to a global study conducted by the World Health Organisation in 2013, around 35 per cent of women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence. It said that one out of every three women goes through violence at least once in her lifetime. Unfortunately, society is getting immune to such incidents and instead of changing its attitude, chooses to punish the victims instead. Quiet often when any incident of rape or any other form of violence is reported, the victim or survivor is questioned about her clothes, character, her being friends with men and so on, rather than the perpetrator.
We can never forget the rape of the Delhi medical student and the comments and the outrage, which forced the then government to constitute a commission under the late Justice Varma. We, the people of this country, can never forget him for his commitment to justice and the fact that he treated women’s right as human rights and made recommendations, which later became law. But successive governments both at the Centre and state are not really keen on implementing it and the result is the rape of a veterinary doctor of Hyderabad and similar incidents all over the country. As crimes against women continue unabated, a report of the National Crime Research Bureau( NCRB) reveals that nine cases are reported in Bengaluru alone every day.
There are different kinds of crimes against women and not all are reported, as often a woman is told to remain silent because she is the saviour of our great “culture.”
But we have a Constitution, which guarantees us equal rights and opportunities. Right to life is a fundamental right, and we want a life of dignity. The UN declaration on the “elimination of violence against women” says that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women” and “violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which they are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”
World -wide statistics reveal that at least one out of every three women around the globe has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser being usually someone known to her.
In our country, on the one hand there is ‘Yatra Naryastu Pujynte……(where women are worshipped) and also told ‘Na stree swatantra marhasi’(women don’t deserve freedom). So whenever rapes and other such heinous crimes are reported against women, they are told that this is only to be expected if they cross the Lakshman Rekha!
Recent incidents have also revealed that sexual violence against women is used for cheap political gain by certain political parties or their members. Those who want to take mileage from it recognise the victim and the culprit as representatives of a particular community or religion. This cannot be tolerated. Crime is a crime. It has no religion or boundary. This kind of attribution naturally dilutes and deviates from the main issue and in the process, justice suffers.
The NCRB report also reveals that crimes against women increased in 2017 by 6 per cent over 2016 and 9 per cent over 2015. We dream about safety, and talk of equality and liberty, but is it really there on the agenda of our states?
Now Bengaluru is one of eight cities selected for the “Safe city project,” and safety is being assured through use of closed circuit camera surveillance. Perhaps, in some cases, it may help nab the culprit after the incident. But what we really need to do is to light a torch of enlightenment in the minds of people and change their mindset.
Let us carry forward the spirit of the UN call to eliminate violence against women and pledge to end it. This society should treat women at par with men and give them the respect due to them.C.R. Janardhana is a president of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The author is vice-president, All-India Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane, Karnataka...