Some recent events indicate how unsafe India has become for women. An actress was abducted in her car and molested and raped by a gang of men while her luxury vehicle was driven around a couple of hours. A woman seeking a lift in an upmarket New Delhi locality was taken to a park and raped. An air hostess was molested in public view on a busy Bengaluru road while very young children were victims of rape and murder in Chennai. All this in just the past few days is a dire warning all over again that no female is immune from being defiled by this national disease, be the victim a famous actresses or a working woman, while housewives and children are becoming silent victims of this horror.
The 2012 Nirbhaya case highlighted the bestiality of man and woke us from our slumber on how much we had regressed as a society, which cannot guarantee the safety of women at home, at work, in taxis or in public places. The laws were tightened after the Justice Verma panel painstakingly went through the process of drafting the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, on amendment of major codes on sexual offences laws. Courts were told to fast track cases and many started delivering exemplary punishment to offenders. The legal process has, however, tended to slow after the initial vigour and it appears we are back to square one, with the government still talking of bringing a bill to speed up trials. The Nirbhaya fund, created to support measures for women’s safety, doesn’t seem to have reached the intended beneficiaries. The Supreme Court was told this month that the money allocated was hardly being utilised to aid victims, or for witness protection or crisis centres.
There seems an attitudinal problem in dealing with this major menace of assaults on women that has given India a very poor image abroad. While our male-dominated society seems to offer only lip sympathy to victims, what is truly surprising about a couple of incidents in Kerala, including one where a law student was raped and killed, is that these crimes took place in what is still largely a matriarchal society. Beyond everything, we are being challenged by this civilisational problem of relationships with women, where the fairer sex is treated as the weaker half. Women’s empowerment has been talked about for a long time, but sadly, if the streets are still not safe for them, it reflects badly on the Indian male as a whole. While some women are bold enough to come out and complain, many endure such assaults as over 90 per cent of sexual crimes are committed by a person close to the victim. That again is an indictment of the Indian male.