India is perceived as the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world. Shocking? Well, not so much of a shocker for a country where not a day passes by when unspeakable crimes against women are not reported, whether it be cities or villages. There are also countless cases of street harassment, acid attacks, dowry deaths, domestic violence and molestation. These have become part and parcel in the life of women in India that many goes unnoticed. There is not a day in a woman’s life when she has faced at least one form of violence if she steps out of her house, whether it be objectionable stares, uncalled comments or whistles.
There is a widespread point of view about women who cross certain set boundaries are asking for rape or death. It is said that “a woman’s place is in her home”. But wait! She isn’t safe in her home either. The infamous Jisha murder case in April 2016 proved that.
Many crimes against women get away with relatively light punishment. The minimum sentence for a rapist is a mere seven years in prison. As for marital rape? It’s not even considered a crime. Apart from that, many cases of rape goes unreported due to fear of stigma, in others culprits pay a fine and walk free. The manner in which some courts have interpreted the law has often proved an obstacle in justice. This was proved right with the judgment of Soumya murder case in February 2011, where the culprit got a punishment of only rigorous imprisonment for seven years due to a loophole in the statement of an eyewitness. Problems range from poor investigations, harsh cross examinations of the victims.
But the biggest culprits are the bystanders. Those of us in society, who do nothing when a woman is being assaulted are just as guilty. We let such violations of human rights happen right under our noses. A recent CCTV footage released on the molestation against a woman in Bangalore shows many onlookers who were within 500 meters from the scene of incident, but none of them showed the courage to stop the molesters and help the girl. The government whose responsibility it is to ensure the safety of women are being misogynistic. The Home Minister of Karnataka G Parameshwara made an insensitive comment that such incidents happen because women wear western clothes and follow western lifestyle. To this I answer, “When a bloodthirsty dog goes rogue, the dog is to be tied down and punished, not the passersby.”