The rise of rapes in India is as much of a politicized topic as it is controversial and tabooed. We do not want to accept that the plight of women in general in India is at best: second class. Yes, you see a handful of bright young women climbing the corporate ladder, joining the army and becoming doctors and scientists yet the vast majority of Indian women stay deprived of basic human rights that their male counterparts take for granted.
Even today discussing unjust treatments meted to women including rapes, eve teasing, passing lewd comments, dowry, child infanticide and bride burning are tabooed. It is the elephant in the room that everyone would rather ignore.
To be honest this is also a very unusual topic for Ubecute to undertake as well, as Ubecute is all about enjoying and pursuing the happiness and beauty in life. However to accept and appreciate beauty is to be aware of the ugliness and the darkness that also exists in the same world. It would be a sham if Ubecute failed to acknowledge the gross cruelty and injustice that is meted to so many among us. To close one’s eyes against evil does not make it go away.
The controversial topic of rapes in India is nothing new and has been dealt by countless news agencies and bloggers. A simple google search will reveal the hard fact that 93 women are being raped in India every single day. Yet some people claim that India has the lowest per capita rate of rape; a claim that is perhaps equally dismissive of the reality as it is misleading. These are only reported cases of rape. Some claim that as few as 1 to 10 percent of rapes are actually reported.
And for some reason, Delhi seems to be the crime city of Rapes in India. According to the Guardian, India has been hit by a wave of sexual violence – particularly gang rapes, citing the case of the 51 year old Danish tourist who was gang raped, robbed and beaten in Delhi. Despite the stringent laws and rallying after Nirbhaya incident in New Delhi, the rape cases continue to rise: from 24,923 in 2012 to 33,707 in 2013!
Picture of pending cases : Courtesy Tribune
It saddens me to see that this is the Delhi I grew up and loved! It is the same city where Gurudwaras and Temples offer Langars or free food to the poor every day. And the city where people assemble every morning in community parks to practice yoga free of cost. This is also the capital city of the country which hosts the government’s legislature, executive and judiciary arms of the government. There is so much history and glory associated to this city that it is deplorable that it has become the hot bed of some of the worst crimes done to women. Why is it that despite all the economic growth in the past decades India fails to provide its women a safe and equally privileged environment as males?
Truth be told, most women in Delhi have experienced some form of eve teasing. Having grown up in Delhi, I speak from experience. Even as a child I was subject to lewd comments from uncouth men. Nor have I forgotten the unexpected nabbing and jabbing of feminine parts while using public transportation, which left you as stunned and violated. I remember growing up in Delhi, I had invented a style of walking on busy streets, which would save me from such perverse people. I would walk with my hands crossed in front of me and my shoulders as far wide as possible so nobody could jab me from the side or the front. I recently saw a documentary in which other girls were explaining doing similar things to protect themselves. I would come home and never tell my parents about what happened for fear of worrying them. The saddest part of it all was that I assumed it was normal. And I was not unique in thinking that way. Women in Delhi constantly feel the pangs of lewd comments and eve teasing and take it in their stride as no “big deal”.
Yet eve teasing is one thing and rapes are something else. Not for a moment do I mean to place them in the same category or claim to understand the agony of rape victims. So why do so many cases go unreported?
Many women who go through abuse are in not in a position to speak against their perpetrators. The abusers may well be their husbands, close relatives, family friends, neighbors and many of these women may be very poor with little standing in society. Plus there is so much social stigma associated with it. There are those brave women who have spoken up only to get further abused and persecuted. Their families have retained the social stigma for the rest of their lives. Why are victims made to feel like offenders?
I believe part of the problem lies with the way children are schooled in India. Thinking back of school days I am saddened to remember that we were given “state of class” education in Math, Sciences and Languages but never really taught sex education. We did not have hot lines where girls from abusive families could call for help. If this is state of some of the best English medium schools then the problem is tenfold in Government funded schools.
While the Government continues to create stringent laws and make verbal promises to be doing everything in its power, crimes against Women continue to grow.
Of course rapes happen in Developed countries including USA. But the difference is the outlook towards the victims. To be raped in India in some cases is being stigmatized more than having committed a crime! Also rapes in USA are fortunately on decline which is an excellent trend, while they continue to rise in India!
Some people point that the root of this evil actually lies in the new found liberty of women who go to schools and offices thereby creating an opportunity for culprits to prey on them. Others point to India’s acute gender imbalance, caste system and entrenched patriarchal culture. Perhaps the worst excuse is the one provided by some Conservatives who claim “western influences”, may be contributing to this! Until people stop searching for a reason in the victim to somehow having attracted the rape, things will never change!
One of the saddest cases to storm the country happened in May 2014, when two village girls 14 and 16 were gang raped in a backward village of Katra Sadatgunj in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. They were allegedly raped by the boys of a neighboring village. While the plight of the girls was pathetic, my heart went out to their parents. Especially the father who sat on his haunches crying his heart out. He was showing a workbook of his daughter who was the only girl in his entire family to go to school. The mother of one of the girls said her daughter wanted to grow up and do “something more than just get married”. They wanted to study and get a job. While there are so many reasons for why this crime happened the truth remains…it happened! And that is enough. The father will never see the joy of her daughter (the only literate child in his family) graduating, or growing up to get a job, or getting married and having kids. Instead he will see her raped, beaten and hanged to a tree.
Later in November 2014 a new story would surface claiming the girls were never really raped and murdered but had decided to go to the fields in the middle of the night to relieve themselves and for suspicious reasons hanged themselves to death. The reason for suicide was inconclusive. Apparently it’s easier to claim an issue does not exist than to fix it!
If I started to name individual cases of brutality and injustice against woman in India, this would become a very long article. I am writing this post for the thousands of nameless women who continue to feel subjugated by their own people. I don’t know how things will change. I have no bitter pill or solution to offer. Despite of all the rallying and advancement the much needed change has not yet happened. It behooves us to first accept the reality that enough has not yet been done. Even one women raped anywhere in the world, is one too many!