Crimes against women in India

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Sajjad Shaukat

SINCE the fundamentalist government of the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, various extremist policies have continued unabated by the Indian rulers. In this respect, rising number of crime against women, especially rapes are attributable to religious fanaticism and lack of law enforcement.
The issue of rape cases against women gained global attention with the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. The cases have been growing ever since. Besides, in a number of rape cases, targeting foreign women have come to the surface in India in 2013. In March 2013, a 38 year old Swiss woman was gang-raped in a forest near Datia town by six Indians. In January 2013 a South Korean student was drugged and raped by the son of owner of the hotel where she was staying. Regrettably, a British holidaymaker in the northern city of Agra suffered a leg injury when she jumped out of the hotel window to save her honor, as two men entered her hotel room with the intent to molest her. In February 2013, a Chinese woman working in Gurgaon, was raped by an Indian acquaintance. In May 31, 2013, a young Irish woman was raped by a man in a house in Kalighat area.
In a notorious case, five years ago, 15-year old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling was raped and left to die on a beach in the tourist resort of Goa. In another shameful case, in June 3, 2013, a US national was gang-raped by three men in a truck in Manali. However, taking cognizance of sexual assaults on ladies, British and Swiss governments including those of other countries have already issued instructions to women tourists to refrain from going to India due to growing risks of insecurity by the Indian officials.
In this context, The New York wrote in June 10, 2013, “Visits to India by female tourists dropped 35 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year. That three-month period came after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December…every day women face the harassment and intimidation in India.” It elaborated, “As many sexual attacks go unreported and that actual number is far higher…sexual offense law in March that imposes stronger penalties for violence against women.” Sumit Galhotra, a journalist who specializes in human rights in South Asia, opined that he has noticed, “While some rape cases in India have received widespread coverage in the local media, but others have not, particularly rape cases in rural India, which are routinely ignored in the press…despite the pervasiveness of India’s rape problem, only a few cases get international headlines.” In fact, the fast-track court system in India is still not fast enough. In this connection, the Indian judicial system moves at a glacial pace, because the prosecution’s primary focus has, instead, been on barring foreign journalists from proceedings.
Notably, on March 29, 2015, Indian newspaper, “The Hindu” reported that a Pune policeman has been booked for molesting a minor Pakistani national at her residence. Anand Gidde, attached to the Pakistan desk of the Foreigners Registration Office, visited the 13-year-old’s house on March 24 ostensibly for verifying her documents. Nevertheless, rape of a Pakistani Hindu minor girl is driven by general acrimony of Indians against Pakistan. Despite repeated demand of Pakistani High Commission in India, no action had been taken against the culprit Anand Gidde who had also managed a bail before arrest.
It is of particular attention that on February 27-28, 2002, several helpless Muslims women were being raped and murdered across Gujarat, with the approval of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, under a preplanned programme of the communal rights. In this regard, Abdul Majid, survival of the Gujarat massacre revealed that his son suffered terrible burns. They poured petrol on the mosques and they came towards our house, screaming slogans. Young girls were raped. And they screamed “victory to the Hindu God. None of you Muslim will get away.” He claimed that his eyes have seen his children and wife dying, he saw his daughters raped by four men.
Undoubtedly, it is due to the callous attitude of Indian government and political leaders who behave insensitively to these ugly crimes. Hence, foreign governments and media must take serious notice of growing evil of rape against women in India, denouncing it forcefully and uncovering negligence of Indian police and law-enforcing agencies. Otherwise, endless crimes like sexual assaults on women in India will continue.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.