“I live in a country where a girl is neither safe inside the womb nor outside it” read the banner held by a protester of the horrifying Nirbhaya rape incident happened in Delhi on 16th December 2012. The incident witnessed a furor when a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh was beaten, gang raped, and tortured in a private bus in which she was traveling with her friend, Awindra Pratap Pandey. There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom raped the woman and beat her friend. After witnessing a huge public outcry against the brutal rape incident, nothing has much changed in Delhi, infamous for its ‘rape capital of India’ tag. Talking only about Delhi, an article by The Indian Express suggests that the number of rapes in Delhi registered a rise in 2015, with data suggesting an average of six cases every day.
The number of rapes in the country also rose by 9 percent to 33,707 in 2014 – with New Delhi reporting 1,813 rapes, making it the city with the highest number of such cases. Mumbai and Bengaluru recorded 607 and 103 rapes respectively. Even after multiple protests and various public outcries, the rape numbers have just seen a rise if anything.
While India has stricter laws in comparison with other countries, the country considers marital rapes as a non-criminal offense as “Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) considers the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below age 15.” Marital rape victims have to take recourse to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA). In its annual report, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said there were 337,922 reports of violence against women such as rape, molestation, abduction and cruelty by husbands last year, up 9 percent in 2013.
It needs ample courage to admit that there is, indeed, a problem existing within the current system. There is indeed a societal issue that needs to be dealt with. The issue with men treating and looking at women as if mere objects. If one ever does the root-cause analysis of sexual violence against women, one would definitely state one of the reasons of sexual violence against women is the mentality of Indian men. “Any woman in a locality is surrounded by between 250 and 400 men who would not think twice before assaulting a woman” stated Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi in an interview.
The way some of the Indian men and certain sections of the society look and perceive women is disgusting. Many news channels have covered this previously without creating much of a sensation. Sensational for us would be the senseless and remorseless acts done in the name of cow protection, the insensible political statements made by politicians and the debate on who is more patriotic or whose religion is unrivaled.
Recently, the Times of India reported that the sale of gang rape videos are on the rise and are being sold in the “hundreds, perhaps thousands, every day”. The police have been trying to stop such vending but it seems quite difficult to put the culprits behind bars.
How have Indian men become this brutal that they indulge in something objectionable as this? When did we forget the culture we all flaunt around the globe and are so proud of? What fosters the sale of such videos? What sadistic sexual drive generates such desirability? Even if the cops are able to impede the graphic sales of such incidents, the problem will still exist. In a society which is proud of its heritage and culture, the barbarity of reported incidents against women is shocking. As the country becomes more diversified with the women in our society following and leading in every aspect of life, it is important to deal with the problem today before we’re sorry for the inaction when the time demanded.
There have been various politicians and diplomats blaming the females for the rise in rape cases in India. Or, criticizing the use of technology like mobile phones corrupting the minds of the youth, especially girls. Vinay Bihari, Minister of art, culture and youth affairs stated: “Many students misuse mobile phones by watching blue films and hearing obscene songs which pollute their mind”. Another statement needs special mention when Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party member and former chief minister, Uttar Pradesh commented “Should rape cases lead to hanging? Boys are boys, they make mistakes.” There have been other pathetic remarks given out by politicians in the past, but, without exploring their hollow brains and lower-than-room-temperature IQ, I would like to understand and ask the male section of the society: How a woman dresses up, walks or talks or roams around at whatsoever time of the day, makes her character questionable? For years now, we’ve been blaming the victims partially without even once questioning the mindset.
We’re at a time in the Indian history where the interaction between the opposite genders is at its apex. We can educate the upcoming generation of young men that being ‘macho’ is to be chivalrous. Being ‘tough’ is to be brave enough to protect women. Being ‘strong’ is to be emotionally supportive and understanding. Being a ‘man’ is synonymous with being ‘gallant’. Mothers and future mothers, teach your sons chivalry even during adverse times and forge infinitude of resilience in your daughters.
We’ve already had a lot of damage in the past. In a multi-culture country like India, the country that has already faced a lot of attacks on women; a country which claims to be providing equal opportunities for both genders. How many more rapes, acid attacks, brutal domestic violence cases would it take for us to understand that there is a problem existing beyond weak laws, enactment of those laws and that there is a need to change the mentality?
The need for stricter, tougher implementation of laws are necessary if not essential. The deployment of rules controlling the current civic behavior coupled with an overall progressive societal development would bring the change we require. In the future, there shall be a time where the laws would be just a ceremonial requirement seldom needed. This will require us educating our upcoming male generation to respect and embrace women in every field of work and life. This is not an incensed feminist speaking against the casual misogyny and sexist behavior, this is just a common man who wishes to bring about a change.