Women Safety in India – An Unending Struggle?
In India, women have been given equal rights as men. The Constitution has granted this equality. Women are the wealth of the nation. They have contributed and made milestones in different fields like sports, politics, technology, medicine. However, a sad reality of Indian society is discrimination and neglect of women in terms of sexual violence, domestic violence, child labor, denial of education. Women safety in India seems to be more like an unending quest today.
There has been a rise in the crime rate against women. The increasing number of crimes can be seen in the newspapers and it is extremely painful to read. Women are called weak and hence, taken for granted. There are many cases where Indian women are locked in their houses and are not fed for days as punishment.
Domestic abuse, sexual assault, murder, acid attacks, child marriage, child abuse, rape, dowry deaths, trafficking are common forms of violence against women. Women safety in India is questioned because Indians, ironically, praise women as Lakshmi and Durga.
It is extremely important to understand what causes men to be abusive against women so that preventive measures can be undertaken.
Why are women targeted by men?
Some theoretical propositions are:
- To obtain some end reward
- A normal response to provocation
- To achieve some personal goals, considering it is an achievement
Violence is a reflection of unequal power in a relationship.
The etiology of violence lies in the patriarchal structure of society. Violence helps a man feel power. Sometimes, it is even a response to frustration and aggression. Men justify the use of violence against women and girls. They believe that they have the right to ‘discipline’ their wives or daughters or any woman/girl in the family under certain conditions. Apparently, family privacy and honor rank higher than the well-being of the women that experience violence.
Economic roles have left women dependent on men and unable to free themselves. Women do not usually report these problems due to fear of social exclusion, banishment, and lack of effective response.
Why do survivors not report?
Survivors do not report due to these reasons:
- Fear of counterattack or retaliation
- Fear of lack of evidence
- Did not feel the crime was serious enough to report
- The belief that the police would not be able to help
- Fear that the criminal system re-victimizes them
- Believes that there is a lack of evidence and will not able to prove herself
- Fear of other people getting to know in society/ shame
- Denial/ Minimization
- Fear of the outcome/consequences
- Low self-esteem
- Hopelessness and Helplessness
The National Family Health Survey reported that 30% of the Indian women of the age groups 15-49 have experienced physical violence and 6% have experienced sexual violence at least once.
31% of married women have experienced some form of violence by their spouses. Most countries in the world recognize rape as a serious form of crime. However, India is one of the 36 countries that does not consider marital rape as a crime.
In 2013, the Supreme Court banned over-the-counter sale of acid but the number of acid attack cases has barely reduced. However, in recent years, there has been a high rate of awareness among the Indian masses.
With the #MeToo movement, women started opening up and shared their stories of sexual harassment and assault by men in powerful positions. Even Bollywood popularly known for objectifying women, showcased films like Chhapaak, the life of an acid attack survivor; Pink, showcasing the message to the patriarchal system that takes a man’s voice to make the people understand the ugly truth. Bollywood is slowly moving towards a culture free from sexist trends and one that brings about gender equality.
Changes required to inculcate Women Safety in India:
- Women must have access to education, healthcare, take up a career of their choice, choice of marriage partner.
- Everyone can wear garments of their choice and take part in activities of their interest, women included.
- The police should be welcoming women to the police stations so that they can file their complaints. Suppressing these complaints will only embolden the perpetrators.
- Men must be educated aware of the different crimes that women face. They must help build a safer environment for women.
Parents must educate their boys to have respect for all irrespective of gender, religion, color, caste or creed.
Sex education in schools to promote holistic development and to impart knowledge on sex and sexuality.
- Women and girls should learn some defense skills and learn to act smartly if a situation ever arises.
- A perpetrator believes that he has a right to abuse and thinks he can get away with it but fear must be instilled. The Government must make stringent laws and set fast-track courts for instant justice.
- An efficacious legislative and justice response is the foundation stone to obviate violence.
Women safety in India has been a rising matter of concern. It is essential to bring reforms and form better laws for the same. However, the root of the issue is the lack of education, in my opinion.
IT’S TIME TO END THE VIOLENCE ON WOMEN.