IN a recent report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, India has been named as the world’s most dangerous country for women. The Reuters Foundation used different parameters to determine women’s safety including the overall risks women, specifically in the fields of healthcare, economic resources and discrimination, cultural, tribal, religious or customary practices, sexual violence and harassment and human trafficking. According to the assessment of the report that why India is ranked worst because violence against women in India has caused national and international outrage and protests since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in New Delhi. The report further highlights that “as India’s rape epidemic gets worst by the year, critics have pointed fingers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for not doing enough to protect women.”
India which claims itself as world’s largest democracy is having worst societal decline which is rarely broadcasted on media. It’s not limited to melancholies for minorities living in India, forced acceptance of religion to them or deterioration of human rights in Kashmir but gender based crimes are on rise particularly against women in India. Last year one of western media discovered that Indian police in Maharashtra found 19 aborted female foetuses near a hospital. According to sources police found the foetuses while they were investigating the death of a woman who had undergone an illegal abortion. Human rights activists say the incident proves yet again that female foeticide is widespread in India despite awareness campaigns. They said its horrifying and female foeticide is happening at the scale of a genocide in India and it must be sorted out and those involved should be punished. In modern India, women are suffering in male dominating society though India asserts itself as one exemplary nation state.
It is important to mention that contemporary India is witnessing repeat of two identical tendencies of the past, one of which is that society is massively becoming radicalised under influence of Hinduism. Another reason is due to growing male chauvinist trend for rape, women feel apprehensive and perilous. Rape is becoming one of fastest growing social evil in India. In their distress, not only local Indian women are suffering but foreigners, tourists and Hindu pilgrims from other countries also go through such ordeals. The life of working women in India is also not easier and they face ordeals not only at work place but while leaving their homes or offices and or while travelling. The cases of harassment are reported in Indian armed forces also but women bear such injustices because of fear of dismissal from service. Even one of the foreigner Japanese lady was raped by five men and another foreign tourist was burnt alive after rape by Indian men. Same incident happened with German and Irish female tourists.
Statistics by National Crime Records Bureau of India reveals that in India, a crime against a woman is committed after every three minutes and a woman is raped after every 29 minutes. Incidentally, it is often found that in every rape incident, the culprit is a fanatic Hindu. Sadly, the crime is perpetrated by gangs of extremists during the communal violence targeting Muslim minority in India which clearly reflects the gruesome mind-set of Indian radicalised society. Anti-rape and women activists, protested when the Indian government restricted the broadcast of a one of BBC documentary about rape that included comments from one of those men who raped 71-year-old nun. His comments triggered outrage around the world by blaming the victim and said that the woman “should just be silent and allow the rape.” On the eve of New Year celebrations, in 2017 Bangalore turned into a “city of rapists” and news of the incident was stormed on social media too.
As per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data released in August 2016, over 34,600 cases of rape have been reported across the country last year with Madhya Pradesh and Delhi on top of list. It is important to note that in India, where women are suffering from rapes and violence after every few minutes their age varies from six to sixty years. India’s crime records show that reported rapes of minor children had more than doubled between 2012 and 2016. In India rape is increasingly used as an instrument to assert power and threaten the powerless in India. One of the horrific incident took place in January, 2018 in IOK, where a seven years old girl Asifa was kidnapped, kept captive in Hindu temple, drugged and repeatedly raped by many men and later killed and dumped in forest. This poor nomadic girl’s family were much intimidated by Indians and ultimately they had to vacate their home. According to Hindus, it was a warning to the minority Muslim nomads in the area to stop grazing their animals on Hindu owned land in Kashmir.
With such high rate of violence, major reason for increasing cases of rape is attributed to insensitive attitude of Indian Government and political leaders who behave thoughtlessly to ugly crimes against women. Though after incident of 2012 new laws and speedy justice was promised at that time but yet more is to be done. Now many women report crimes against them whereas many go unreported too. One can clearly say that rise in sexual assaults are definitely linked with ignored priorities for women and rising number of rapes are surely related with religious fanaticism, widespread poverty and lack of law enforcement, where improvement in societal setup of India is least preferred.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.