A free India for women? Distant dream

A free India for women? Distant dream - We The World
A Durga idol immersion (Image courtesy of @DailyO_ via Twitter)

Barmer: Man rapes minor girl, aide films the act

Gurugram: Woman, 25, raped and beaten up by four

22-yr-old Nepali women ‘raped’ at Lucknow hotel, zero FIR lodged in Nagpur

Headlines such as these above are from the last 6 to 8 days from media outlets. Distressing, isn’t it? These are just a few of the many others listed.

There may be so many more out there that go unreported. Not to forget the brutal gangrape of the Dalit woman in Hathras on the 14th of September that left her paralyzed and eventually claimed her life.

And even in death, she was denied the dignity of a respectful cremation. 

Back in 2012, it was the Nirbhaya gang-rape case that shocked the country where a 23-year-old physiotherapist was gang-raped and killed in a moving bus. 8 years down the line, nothing’s changed. Things have only gotten worse. 

The National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ 2019 report recorded a whopping 4,05,861 cases of crimes against women, with a total of 32,033 rape cases reported.

According to the same report, India recorded 88 rape cases in a day in 2019. In a country where women are worshipped as  Goddesses, it is horrifying that every 16 minutes, there is a rape happening somewhere in India.

The fact that Uttar Pradesh, a place of great religious, spiritual, and political significance, being known as the Rape  Capital of India is both disheartening and disgraceful.  

One of the biggest fears we as women face every day while we are out of our homes, working or traveling late at night, is being raped.

As harsh as it sounds, this is the truth! Every time we find ourselves in a dark lonely alley or a deserted road at night, there is an instinct to keep looking over our shoulders for fear of being attacked.  

They say men fear there’s a ghost in the dark. And women fear, it is men.

A woman is a life-giver. It is from her that life originates. She was created, not to be superior or a slave to man but as a companion.

But all she has been reduced to is an object for men to use as they please. In a land where female goddesses are worshipped, being a woman has become a curse. 

India has become one of the most unsafe places for women, given the rape culture prevalent in the country.

Right from being schooled on how to dress, how to behave in public, to being slut-shamed for making bold dressing choices, having male friends, and staying out late at night, it is always, somehow, us women at fault for being raped.

We have somehow asked for it. Well, then what would you say when an 8-month-old infant is raped?

What about the woman in a sari or a burkha, where she’s covered from head to toe? What about marital rape? Were they asking for it too?  

This rape culture stems from deep-rooted misogyny and patriarchal beliefs prevalent in our society. From time immemorial, women have been portrayed less like humans and more as objects to possess, use, and degrade.

Rapes have been a means of avenging family feuds and rejections with the attitude being that a women’s modesty is linked to her family’s honor.  

Another major reason for this growing rape culture in India can be attributed to the objectification of women through media by way of misogynist lyrics and through the glorification and justification of violence, assault, and slut-shaming in movies.  

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao! Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Pretty cool. What’s not cool though, is the fact that we had to come up with a slogan to protect the basic human rights of our daughters.

And yet still, this has not been able to deter any of those criminals from carrying out heinous acts of rapes and molestations, among others, against our women. Why is it that we need saving? What is it that we need to be saved from?  

The Government needs to take serious responsibility for each and every rape or molestation case and these need to be dealt with severely.

Merely passing a law does not rid the Government of its responsibilities and duties. It took 8-years for the convicts of the Nirbhaya gang-rape case to be hanged. 

The victim of the Unnao rape case was burned alive by 5 men, 2 of whom included the perpetrators of the act. The Hathras gang-rape victim was forcibly cremated before declaring that she wasn’t even raped!

Time and again justice has either been delayed or denied! We need stringent laws and harsher punishments to deal with such cases that are on the rise.  

Being a woman myself, it pains me that my freedom is compromised to ensure my safety. Instead of telling our daughters that they are weak and need to be saved, why don’t we teach our sons how to behave?

It is high time we stop teaching our daughters that any crime against them is a consequence of their actions. We need to teach our sons that they are not entitled to assault or degrade a woman for their pleasure and satisfaction.

This needs to be part of discussions in schools, colleges, and public forums. Sexual harassment and sexually offensive jokes and conversations should be dealt with severely at academic institutions and workplaces.  

We need to stop placing the onus of a woman’s safety on women themselves. In doing so, we will do away with the attitude that whatever happens to a woman is the result of her actions.

Political leaders and public figures who stand to influence a large number of people, young and old alike, need to stop with the victim-blaming and slut-shaming.

What is needed is a change in the mindset and attitude of people. Then and only then can we begin to look at a free India for women in the truest sense of the word.

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