Is woman safe in India?

Lata Jain

In a shocking incident, a woman in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district was allegedly stripped filmed naked by five men Including an Army trooper on Saturday. The group not only filmed the girl but uploaded the video on social networking sites stocking up anger amongst the people.

Police have registered a case and arrested three people including a minor boy in Udhampur. However, the two other accused, including the army trooper, are still at large. Meanwhile, a massive hunt has been launched in this regard.

lata jain

Lata Jain

Deputy commissioner Udhampur Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary said police took suo-motu cognisance of the incident. “We received the video yesterday and found the incident has taken place in Udhampur,” Chowdhary said.

A Dalit woman was on Sunday allegedly gangraped by four men near Karisath village in Bhojpur district, police said.

The incident took place after the woman got off a train at Jagjivan halt where the four accused took her in an autorickshaw before gang raping her in a field, Deputy Superintendent of Police Vinod Rawat said.

A 22-year-old woman was allegedly gang raped by seven persons at a guesthouse in the Sushant Lok area on 20th June, police said

A Class 12 student has alleged that she was abducted and gang-raped by three youths for two days in East Delhi on 29th June. Police said the girl, in her complaint, alleged that she befriended one of the accused on a social networking site. She also claimed that the accused tried to sell her off, but she managed to escape from their “clutches”.

“The 17-year-old, who lives with her parents in mandwali suburbs befriended one Sameer on Facebook sometime ago,” said a senior police official, adding that she had only alleged kidnapping when she first approached police on June 21.

The list is long, endless of rape, killing, abuse, mental torture towards women. The attacks have reignited the debate over whether India has apparently become a more dangerous place to be a woman. What has changed in the culture? Is urbanization to blame? A change in modern morals? lax law enforcement.

As the world’s largest democracy, India is filled with potential but it also suffers many political and economic handicaps, one of the more important challenges facing the country is ensuring the safety of its citizens, particularly its women. Police are notoriously corrupt, underpaid and poorly trained. There are far too few courts, judges and lawyers to serve the needs of the country’s 1.2 billion people. In a speech earlier last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country has a backlog of 30 million legal cases and 26 percent of them had been pending for more than 5 years. Those numbers, of course, do not account for crimes that never get to court because the police are reluctant to file new cases or investigate those that are registered.

India is a very spiritual and magical place,” gushed Paris Hilton when she visited for the first time last year, expressing a widely held view. Many visitors to India believe that the people are gentle, welcoming and that it is a safe place to travel.

But the government is battling sweeping changes in Indian society, largely due to rapid urbanization, which is having a profound impact on the traditional family structures as men migrate to the cities in search of work, leaving behind parents, wives and children.

Urbanization fueling crime?

“Migrant workers are living together with no female influence, just a bunch of men living together. They are developing a new cult of masculinity, being driven by the pornography industry,” said Ruchira Gupta, an Indian women’s rights activist and Emmy award winning documentary maker.

 “India is now the third largest user of pornography in the world and the porn narrative here is one of sexual violence and domination, which is sending signals to men to associate sex with violence.  They are attacking women all over the country, whatever their age or color,” said Gupta, who also lectures at New York University’s Center of Global Affairs.

She also warned that tourists should not take their safety for granted because “there is also a backlash against Westernization, which is embodied in the white female.”

Rape has soared in India in recent years.  Recorded rapes have risen by 873 percent since independence in 1947 and there were 24,206 rape cases in 2011, according to government figures. At the same time rape convictions fell by 44.3 percent between 1973 and 2011.

Women’s empowerment activist Kathleen Suneja also cited urbanization as a driving force behind the rising rape figures.

Despite the fact that the most powerful person in the country, , is a woman; that several states are ruled by autocratic female chief ministers; and the mother figure is deeply revered in Indian culture, there is little sense of sisterhood at the top.

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