Crime against women | Shame for a country like India

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By: Binoo Joshi
India is the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world. This revelation by a poll survey of Reuters Thompson Foundation is a sad commentary on the state of affairs of women in the country. The sadder fact is that it took a foreign foundation to find out the truth about the status of women in India. And the kind of crimes that are being committed against them in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Mumbai, where girls are being raped, murdered, their bodies stuffed in boxes will put to shame even the most horrifying criminal society in the world..
In this country, a lot of lip service is paid to the women’s liberties, their rights and empowerment. The promises of protection galore, but when it comes to creating a space for women in society, where they can live and work with respect, crime is unleashed against them. This is a design to tell the women that they have to be targets of violence and crime because that is how the rulers and the powerful men have come to treat the women in all states of the country.
 There are several points to ponder. The crime against women from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the usual geographical and political description of India, is being perpetrated not by men alone. The women are equal partners. For example, in the cases of female foeticide or dowry. This illicit partnership encourages criminals in society to do more criminal acts against the women of all ages.
Unless the women refuse to be a party to the crime against their daughter-in-laws, sister-in-laws and would be daughters, it is inevitable that there would be more horrifying stories at all levels. The women will have to wake up, and rise against the criminal mindset gaining ground in society. It is because when criminals are around, there are no peace times. It is perpetual turbulent situation, a permanent situation of conflict dawn to dusk ear and sense of insecurity.
Politicisation of voices against crime is the worst thing to happen. That is happening in India. It is more shocking when women leaders seek absurd justification in crime against their own gender. It was highly atrocious on part of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ms Mayawati, one of the four women chief ministers in India, to say that “more rapes are committed in Mumbai on daily basis than Uttar Pradesh”. How can any rape be justified by drawing comparisons between one state and the other simply on the grounds that the two are ruled by two different political parties. In her competitive politics with Congress and BJP, Ms. Mayawati forgot that she was, in a way, giving license to criminals. What was she defending? The less number of rapes against women in her state as a yardstick of a  better law and order situation than Mumbai, or was she trying to tell that criminals in her state have not yet matched the records of Mumbai in such crimes so far.
This type of absurdity is not new. The political parties are masters in this game. It hardly matters whether they are headed by men or women . But, now this has assumed horrendous proportions. At the same time, the logic that only the parties or the governments headed by women should be seen protecting the women, which in any case they are not doing, be it Congress, Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, PDP, BSP, doesn’t hold much water. This is, and it should be the collective responsibility of all the parties, be it BJP, CPI-M, National Conference, Akali Dal, DMK or so on.
During the past two decades, Kashmir has scaled new and horrendous heights in crime against women. The women were raped, kidnapped, murdered, molested, and more often than not, they opted for silence. The culprits were from all sides. A rape is a rape. It is a crime. So is murder, So is molestation, and so is harassment in fields, jungles and midnight knocks. The crime cannot be pardoned. But unfortunately, there is a justification of crime. There are excuses and excuses only. No one can claim to be protecting the place and population as there is no control on gun and tongue. “They are our boys,” this term doesn’t give right to any side, whether in uniform or civvies to commit crime against women.
What has emboldened these elements, is that their horrendous acts of crime against women, are ignored. The institutions and the people who should be paying attention to curb the crime, often turn a blind eye. There is a tendency to ignore all these acts, because taking action against the culprits or speaking against them, is considered politically incorrect, or for that matter, taking action against these powerful people in politics or bureaucracy, with tonnes of illicit money and muscle power, harms the self interests of politicians and the institutions that are supposed to protect and get justice for the victims.
It is time to understand that there is a common challenge and urgency of a common response to this growing menace in society. The need of the hour is to give an expression of shared responsibility to the shared sense of crisis and an acute and growing concern over the violence and criminality affecting women.  Everyone knows the statistics, the murder rates, rapes, the violence that burdens economic development, and threats to democracy. No amount of participation in any polls would help the matters if the crime in society, particularly against women, is not eliminated. Fighting crime is more important than anything else.
Many in Kashmir are living these brutal facts every single day. And the basic truth is that no single party or government can overcome these facts on its own. There is need to devise a shared strategy and will to implement that. Kashmir set an example for rest of the country. Can it do it? This is the common challenge.

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