By Amarpreet Kaur:
Rape cases in India are not something unheard of. Crimes against women have been on a perpetual rise. A latest statistic says that every 22 minutes, a woman gets raped in India. Welcome to the new-age India: a country where the society professes to have become open-minded in its perspective and outlook, a society that allows its daughters to move out and stay in big cities to pursue their career ambitions, but a society that cannot somehow ensure that its girls are safe in their own country.
To begin with, I will share a common situation that I face personally. Every time I have to go out late in the evening, could be for any work, the first thing that starts worrying my parents is the fact that it’s too late for me to venture out. It is not ‘safe’ for girls to go out at such hours. And the reply that you get when you question them regarding the reason for the same is: “Bahar ladkion ke liye mahual kharaab hai bete”. I am sure this is a common occurrence in many of the Indian households.
What I would love to know is who makes up this so-called ‘mahual‘? Isn’t it our very own people that do so? Eve-teasing, passing unhealthy comments at women, sexual harassment are things which are quite a common sight in our markets, in our neighbourhoods and surprisingly even in our offices at times.
The time and nature of jobs today demand that women have to work till late hours at night sometimes right up to early in the morning. There are an n number of tasks to be performed for which a girl needs to go out. And every time she goes out she cannot necessarily have somebody accompanying her to protect her from the criminals who are ever-ready to pounce upon her, given a chance. The result is there for everyone to see. The number of rape cases has shown a tremendous increase, with the Delhi-NCR region being labelled as the rape capital of India. This is a huge shame to say the least.
The problem has been persistent for so many years but there is still no viable and effective solution in sight. What is appalling is that rather than focusing on ways to root out the problem, leaders and social activists are going about blaming the women themselves for this problem. For starters, many attribute the rise in incidents of rape to ‘inappropriate’ dressing by women. This implies that the men of our society are not civilized enough to realize that they are humans and not animals, but it is the poor woman who is dressed up in say a short dress, who is at fault for instigating her male counterparts to do some form of ‘batmeezi’ with her. I would love to refute this stupid and silly argument straight away by stating that rape has happened even when the victim in question was fully-clad in a sari or a salwar kameez. This only goes on to show the mentality that our people carry.
The major reason why we cannot curb the cases of rape is that on more than ninety percent of the occasions, the victims do not come out and report the matter for the fear of society and other associated social stigmas that we have. Consequently, the culprits are never caught; and they have no fear and thus go on to repeat their shameless act. Many from the political fraternity, in particular the Khap community from Haryana, have advocated lowering the marriageable age of women in India so as to solve the issue. This speaks volumes about the set-up we have; ideally you should be making the laws more stringent so that the criminals think twice before committing the crime and women should be made sufficient in self-defence so that they can protect themselves if such a situation arises. But nothing major in that direction is happening.
As a girl myself, I strongly believe that nobody can protect you but yourself. We have to let go off that shell of being the soft and ever-so-weak of the two sexes. As an individual, you have to be strong enough to protect yourself and fight for yourself. Go and join a self-defence class today, learn how to guard yourself if the circumstances demand, report to the police whenever you face any issues when out, be more active and alert and do not give the impression of being subdued to others. Nobody is going to come and help you until and unless you help yourselves. God has definitely bestowed enough strength on each one of us; it is up to us to make use of it for our own good.