By Pooja Mahesh:
Women’s safety can be considered to be a highly debatable topic. I say this, in consideration of what women may have, could have or have already undergone safety problems in country. This leads to a larger question: how many of us women, feel safe to roam around the streets of our country without fear of being jeered at or face harassment night or day. Thomson Reuters’ Global study indicates that India is the “fourth most dangerous country” for women to live in. A country that celebrates women in various forms (such as ‘Bharat Mata’) is unable to make its cities, towns and villages a safe haven for women. It is disheartening yet a blatant truth.
If one reads at least 4 or 5 articles about woman harassment every day, how can one feel safe? It calls to our attention as to why women cannot be independent of men — why should women walk in the shadows of men? Police records show increased incidences of crimes against women in India. It was reported that the rate of crimes against women would surpass the population of India by the year 2010 in a study conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau in 1998. However, as many of the women related crimes such as rape and molestation include a rather ‘severe’ form of social stigma, the crimes were often left unsaid and no complaints were filed. So it can be seen that societal norms and mentality are the root causes of women being silent about their traumatic experience.
Over the past few millennia, the status of women have been subjected to various changes – from the equal status that they enjoyed with men during the ancient times to the truncated medieval times to the promotion of women rights in the modern era, Indian women have socially suffered. Today women have been able to climb higher, albeit with difficulties with repercussions like the Glass Ceiling Effect in corporate enterprises.
Some of the common crimes against women are:
1. Sexual harassment: Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990 related to molestation and harassment at the workplace.
2. Dowry: A Report published in the year 1997 has stated that on an annual basis 5,000 women die because of dowry. Some of these cases have women dying in a kitchen fire, which is thought to be intentional. The dowry related deaths are often termed as ‘bride burning’.
3. Female infanticides and sex selective abortions: This can be considered to be a major contributor of women crimes. Killing an infant female, before the birth can be considered to be the most sinful of all the sins that our Sacred Texts may state. As the female — male proportion is not equal, it makes India a highly male populated country.
4. Domestic violence: Domestic violence in India often happens as a result of dowry demands.
Although there have been various attempts by the government and NGOs to prevent such crimes, many still circumvent the established rules. How do we prevent this? This is something that we should think about — how do we help to prevent such crimes? One must not think that this problem occurs only amongst the lower social classes; even the socially higher people get blinded with acts of violence towards women through the aforementioned ways.