Crimes against women in 21st century India

Firstly, I need to provide a disclaimer. This is a complex subject and I can only provide a very one sided perspective as an urban male and as an Indian. I am completely open to reevaluation of my arguments and my views when more facts/studies emerge or when counter arguments are provided. These are based on my general reading of the subject and mere observations of our surroundings and no scientific studies/citations can/will be provided.

Crime against women has to be distinguished into petty crimes (eve teasing, ogling etc), major crimes such as rape, rape + murder and gender bias (typically at workplace).  Gender discrimination in society, whether at workplace or outside is a hangover from our treatment of women during the medieval times where women were seen as second class citizens and were always considered inferior to men. This discrimination exists in all societies and countries. This will not be addressed since there are enough legal remedies and the discrimination is fading by the day and most importantly, do not affect the livelihood of women as such. Ascertaining reasons for the first two crimes is a difficult task, but the most glaring ones are hard to miss.

Law & Order

India has one of the least number of police stations per population and number of policemen per person. It may baffle some commentators how as a society and as a country we have not been pushed to anarchy and are still trudging along, but it comes as no surprise societal backing is the most cited reason for us managing well in times of financial and social distress. The same cannot be said about women who face subjugation and trauma before birth in the form of female infanticide, after birth in the form of aforementioned crimes.

The reason is simple, criminals get away !  Even death penalty does not deter them simply because they feel extremely confident in not getting caught, thanks to the excessive number of crimes that goes unreported. Even if they do, they can hope for lengthy trials, shoddy police work and the amnesia of our society. Cops on the other hand seem to be mere servants of the ministers they report to. There is no encouragement to report rapes or eve teasing and there is a regressive mindset that has set in which completely lacks sensitivity and this puts off the victims and their families leading to their silent grieving.

Upbringing

Unlike the West, majority of Indians have a template about how their lives go. We are all taught what is right and wrong at our homes. Dating is looked down upon and more important activities like education and/or work are expected to come at the top of one’s priorities.  Sex ed is mostly “obtained” from the internet, magazines, hearsay and this is not to be translated into sexual experiences before marriage. When someone is ‘settled’, a bride or a groom is found by the families and everyone gets married in their 20s and are expected to happily live ever after. Things however may not go as per plan. In a country where prostitution is illegal, I would really not discard the possibility that lot of sexually frustrated folks out there who are not scared of law, facing lots of socio-economic pressures in life like everyone else to take the dastardly step of committing a crime to satisfy their own libido.

Culture Shock

We are living in an era where inequality is rising and populations, rich and poor are sharing urban resources and intruding into each others’s spaces more than before. This clash I feel is manifesting in strange ways. Lack of education, opportunities, poverty, livelihood on one side. Urban cosmopolitan lifestyle on another side. This ‘jealousy’ so to speak when coupled with the upbringing and lack of fear of consequences maybe one of the reasons for rape and other major crimes.

Outrage

Most common question that comes to my mind is, have the number of rapes increased ?
I seriously doubt this. At least not for the last few decades. Apart from the increased inequality and globalization,  no new factors are there which were not there before. The number of reportage of rapes has definitely increased, thanks to the activist media. The constant media reports are only healthy (even though our global image takes a beating) and this has an empowering effect on victims,their families and society in general.

Channeling and remedy

Without any confusion, treating this as a law and order problem gives us short term measures to curb it and maybe sufficient .
Increasing sensitivity among police, or increasing the number of CCTV cameras and speedy trials are often suggested in  various committee reports.
From a social point of view, a simple look at correlation does suggest cities where prostitution is legal/has tacit permissions have lesser number of rapes. More studies need to be done to understand what other factors are influencing this observation.
Do we want to live in such a society is a moral question which warrants more discussion.
Families need to introspect when bringing up their male child. What is allowed in a society and what isn’t should be made clear at an early age for both male and female children in homes and in schools. Alas, fear of consequences is the biggest deterrent and unfortunately we seem to have a shabby record in clearing legal cases in general, leave aside rape.

 

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One thought on “Crimes against women in 21st century India

  1. “…to take the dastardly step of committing a crime to satisfy their own libido.”

    I look forward to your eventual post about the intersection of prostitution and morality with respect to society. 🙂

    Like

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