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- GS 1 || Indian Society || Women || Issues Concerning Women
Why in the news?
Recently a comment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) in which he asked the culprit of sexual violence whether he will marry the victim, has generated considerable debate on the women safety and the society’s attitude towards it.
Sexual Violence in India:
- India at present is an extremely women unfriendly country and the atrocities and crime against women is not taken very seriously.
- Section 354 of the IPC criminalises any act by a person that assaults or uses criminal force against a woman with the intention or knowledge that it will outrage her modesty. Such an act is punishable with either simple or rigorous imprisonment.
- Crime against women is still not among the top 10 priorities of any police organisation.
- New Delhi has earned the notorious title of “rape capital” of India due to frequent rape incidents in the city. Other metro cities are also not untouched by such gruesome crimes against women.
- The sexual violence against Indian women is widespread and has deep roots in India’s societies.
- Few female police and police personnel: India has historically had a much lower percentage of female police officers and Police personnel in general than other Asian countries. This has encouraged repeated sex offenders.
- According to a survey conducted by ‘Guria India’ a women safety NGO, less than 7% of overall police work is actually dedicated to women safety related affairs which is inadequate given the rate of crimes against the women.
- A lack of concern for public safety: Many streets are poorly lit, and there’s a lack of women’s toilets. Women who drink, smoke or go to pubs are widely seen in Indian society as morally loose and thus undeserving for equal respect in society.
- Stigmatising the victim: When verbal harassment or groping do occur in public areas, bystanders frequently look the other way rather than intervene, both to avoid a conflict and because they on some level blame the victim. Male politicians contribute to the problem, making statements that make light of rape or vilify rape victims’ supporters.
- Low status of women: Patriarchal mindset and feudal mindset has led to women being tagged as burden and an object which ultimately culminates as sexual violence against them
- Lack of sex education: The lack of sex education and treating it as taboo has done more damage than good to the Indian society. Sex education would educate young boys about the real facts related to sexuality which may bring down the rape incidents.
- Pornography: The proliferation of pornography content through internet has also emerged as one of the major reasons behind rising rape incidents across the country.
Issues related to sexual violence against women in India:
- Majority of sexual violence crimes are committed by known people: According to a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, around 93% Rapes in India Committed by Persons Known to the Victim. Large number of rape cases were filed against “family friends”, employers, neighbours or other known persons.
- No criminalisation of Marital Rapes: In India, despite having poor socio-economic status and alcoholism problem, Indian laws don’t yet criminalise marital rapes.
- Prevalence of rape culture: Such a culture extends from rape jokes, casual sexism, acceptance of toxic masculinity, victim blaming, and violent acts against women.
- It places the onus of women’s safety on their behaviour, in terms of judging victims of sexual assault by their clothing and actions.
- Crippled justice system: Rape victims in India face significant barriers in their fight for justice, a fight not made easier by unempathetic systems that blame victims for their misfortune. Victims may encounter hostile conditions in police stations where they are often pressured to withdraw their case. In some cases the police may find its own authority undermined by people in positions of power. For eg: Recently in a case, the UP Police allegedly cremated the body of a rape victim instead of handing over the body to her family under the political presssure.
- Hidden cases of rape incidents: The rape incidents in India is grossly underreported. Many of the victim girls are either threatened or persuaded to take off the case. Also, NCRB’s practice categorisation of crimes based on data collection upon the “principal offence” rule. In short, if a rape also involves the murder of a victim then the crime is recorded as a murder and not a rape.
- No preventive measures: In case of any crime committed against women, the discussion always goes towards punishment for the crime only, but never towards the prevention of crime.
- Increase the Police personnel to ensure safety at public places such as streets, roads, malls, public transport etc.
- Technological solutions like developing apps for location tracing of women and altering the law enforcement teams nearby, etc.
- Change the existing medical rape testing techniques which destroys the modesty of women. The Supreme Court has also asked not to perform ‘two-finger’ testing technique upon rape victims.
- Better management of data related to sexual crimes against women so that better policies can be framed for protection of women.
- Educate female children the self defence tactics at an early age so that at times they can protect themselves from unfavourable gesture.
- Sex education at an appropriate age level would also help bring down the number of rape and sexual violence incidents. After years of sex education being banned in many Indian states, Prime Minister has rolled out a sex education program in 2018.
- Dedicated Fast track courts have also been set-up to complete the judicial process within the stipulated time period.
- Empower women in every aspects and not just in education and economic sectors. They must be felt as equal gender ti male.
- The Company Act can be amended so that efforts taken to ensure the safety of women employee should also be covered within the ambit of corporate social responsibility (CSR)
- The pornography content on internet must be regulated in accordance to the established rules and laws to reduce its impacts on young impassable minds of youth.
Initiatives taken by the government:
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013: This legislative act seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. The Act was enacted after the Justice Verma Committee recommended the measures for prevention of sexual harassment at workplace.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), 2012: It was enacted to protect minors from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
- Blocking phonographic websites: Exercising powers given in various sections of Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 Union government has ordered to block many websites which used to proliferate porno content.
- Women Safety Campaigns run by Central agencies: Indian Railways has recently launched ‘Meri Saheli’ to provide safety to women passengers.
- Himmat App: The Himaat app is a free safety app recommended for women by the Delhi Police. The state Police organisations have also launched similar apps and helpline numbers for women safety. For eg: The UP Police has launched 1090 helpline, under which when stalkers call women in UP, cops who call them back and deal accordingly.
- Women Police Stations: All states have been instructed by the Home Ministry to set up special dedicated all women police stations to deal with women related crimes.
Model Mains Question:
- Discuss the reasons behind increasing sexual violence incidents against women in India. Suggest measures to counter this position.