New Delhi: While public resentment is growing over the increasing incidents of rape in India, particularly in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), political leadership does not seem to see a reason to worry.
Though the status of women in India, both historically and socially, has been one of respect and reverence, the hard truth is that even today, they are struggling for their own identity, shouting for diffusion of their voices and fighting for their own esteem.
Anger still persists since the infamous December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya gang rape as it is yet to be replaced with hope that things will improve and our women will be safer than ever, and confidence that gender sensitivity will increase in general.
The state of UP has seen an alarming increase in rape cases in the recent years; the increase in number of rape cases each year in the state has been almost twice the national average. According to National Crime Records Bureau’s 2014 report, the state has witnessed a disturbing 161 per cent rise in rape cases in just one year from 2014 to 2015.
“In just one week, we have seen two despicable incidents of gang rape in Uttar Pradesh. All these incidents should make us introspect where are we heading. The government will have to act by sending across a really strong message to such criminal-minded people,” social commentator and behavioural expert Pravin Kumar Sahay tells Gulf News.
Of late, rape has become an acute disease in the Indian society. Prima facie, it looks like a problem arising out of a mental disorder but there is also a larger cultural context that explains how the Indian male becomes so brutal.
“It is a shameful moment for the entire country. We are in dire need to find a new word to call ourselves. Definitely, the word ‘human’ does not describe us anymore. The violence against women keeps continuing in spite of tremendous outrage displayed by the general public in the recent times. We raise a hue and cry if Salman Khan makes a nasty comment against women but if a woman is actually raped, we sit over it. We just take it as a given,” he says.
He added that perhaps it is “the cultural upbringing that conditions Indian males to behave in a cruel fashion with women. Indian societal conditioning and religious training construct men as aggressive and women as submissive.”
“The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had once said that when the moment comes when a girl can walk alone anywhere in the middle of the night without the fear of any harm, we would achieve true freedom. Yesterday, we witnessed that a teacher was gang-raped along the highway, is this the freedom that Gandhiji was looking for,” says Delhi-based social activist Manish Makhija.
Despite the constitutional guarantee of equality of sexes, rampant discrimination and exploitation of women in India persists. Some experts feel that women living in fear of rape is a given. It knows no borders, physical or cultural.
“Rape is a crime of opportunity, eliminate the opportunities so women do not live in fear. We need to put measures in place to deal with these heinous crimes. As time goes by, we must maintain the same drive and not soon forget what has happened. Men need to respect the rights of women and this must be taught in the homes, schools and religious places of worship. Effective legislation is also necessary to dissuade perpetrators,” says women rights activist Akanksha Kumar.