Wow, that was faster than I thought possible. Sexual offenders guilty of rape, stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks among others will in future have to reckon with up to 20 years imprisonment, and even life imprisonment or death sentence for repeat offenders. The law forsees that 18 years is the age of consent for sex. The Indian Lower House (Lok Sabha) has just passed an anti rape bill which de facto amounts to an amendment of diverse clauses in various penal laws and regulations. The bill is meant to be a clear deterrent signal that Indian society will not tolerate such crimes. The bill still needs to be passed by the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) which however is not considered problematic.
Well this is definitely a milestone worth registering. It looks like the steadfastness of the various demonstrators, the vehemence of many women’s rights activists, the public outrage and the international reaction to the sexual excesses of the recent past have apparently had their impact.
Now that the Indian legislative organs have amended laws so as to prevent sexual assault, it is now up to the executive and law implementing organs to start doing their job.
Such news is a sad testimony that proves the need for more urgent and fundamental action to prevent sexual assault in India. This time it is a Swiss tourist who is raped and tragically right in front of her husband. Apparently there are enough men in India who consider it necessary to show off their sexual prowess by resorting to gang rape. This is tragic to say the very least!!
This is a clear indication that the limited natural interaction between males and females as prevalent in bigger sections of Indian society is leading to suppressed sexual desire. A good part of this pent-up sexual energy seeks rape as an outlet. This could explain the high statistics of one rape every twenty minutes. All this really urgently calls for introducing social education to promote a natural interaction between males and females. After all India is economically not in the 19th century!!
Happy International Women’s Day everybody! On International Woman’s day I greet all the demonstrators of Delhi and all the many other cities of India. By protesting not just once but many many times you have made a hole in the fabric of silence that prevails over India on gender issues.
Woman of India have to stand up against the violence and brutality (be it physical, sexual or psychological in nature) that they are exposed to. They have to start talking, protesting, denying, exposing and decrying abuse. Breaking the culture of silence means making society aware of the imbalances that prevail and saying “I am a woman, a citizen of this country like every other man and i have rights too and I will not tolerate this any more”.
Let us hope that the Indian Presidents good wishes are taken more seriously by Indian authorities and society in future.
The number of rape cases in New Delhi alone is horrific. There is the case of a XII standard girl who is abducted and raped, a minor rape victim who immolates herself, the attempted rape of a 11 standard girl alone at home just to mention a few. According to statistics there were 572 rapes in 2011 alone, followed by 706 rapes in 2012 reflecting a 23 % rise against 2011 while between January and February 15th 2013 in total 181 rape cases were reported reflecting about 4 rapes a day.
A first conviction and a sentence of a 60 year old school guard for a sexual offense has been announced. That is a good start. But the authorities need to bear in mind that establishing the acquaintanceship between the victim and the rapist in no way reduces the tangibility of rape as a crime. Poor forensic track records are a clear indication that one of the first issues that the law and order authorities need to address is the introduction, use and implementation of modern forensic tools and methods in their investigations. Legal and policing reforms are absolutely necessary if the situation is to be tackled.
Mitu Khurana a woman like any other in India. And yet her painful journey through the prejudices and contorted perceptions of Indian society are an eye opener. She like her husband and his family is educated. She is a doctor and yet! She is tricked into having an ultra sound sex determination test during her pregnancy. She was bullied to abort the female fetus (twins) she was carrying when her husband knew they were going to be females. She refused, stood up for her convictions and decided to have her twins in spite of all the family pressure. She filed a law suit.
Female foeticide and infanticide is barbaric. I am a pro-lifer. Education should widen one’s horizon and make one receptive for other views. It is tragic to know that education has in this case not opened the eyes of her husband’s family. As a doctor one knows enough about the chromosomes and that the male determines the gender of a new born. This development really needs to be stopped.
The Indian commission set up to review the status of sex crimes in India has submitted its report in record time. The recommendations range from better implementation of existing laws, sensitizing the population to gender issues and more severe legal sentences. However the biggest challenge for all social organisations will be trying to change antiquated patriarchal attitudes which legitimize violence and injustice against woman.
Will India consequently implement the recommendations of the commission? Will the citizens of the country wake up to this call for social change or forget it and return to their trudge through life based on antiquated customs and habits which have little relevance to the 21st century.
The initial reactions are promising. The massive demonstrations in Delhi and the resonance to the one billion rising campaign which was organised worldwide on 14th February are starting points. Two other examples are the reaction of the Shri Ram school in New Delhi or Anoushka Shankar’s (daughter of Ravi Shankar) appeal to many to join the campaign.
Many men in India grow up in male dominated surroundings. Based on a patriarchal society with socially and culturally accepted separation of genders, men have little contact with females in the post puberty phase. Due to the lack of if not limited natural interaction with young women they often grow up with false notions about manliness seeing sexual dominance as necessary to show their manliness. One predominant notion that prevails among young men is the concept of “asli admi” ( the Real man) which correlates with among other characteristics the need to be sexually aggressive in order to satisfy women. So the underlying contorted ideas about masculinity among many men in India influences the attitudes prevailing in the Indian social scene.
There are very few role models of manliness that don’t involve molesting a woman. Bollywood exacerbates the matter by often depicting its film heroes with stalking or related mannerisms. Lacking a role model of masculinity, Indian men often tend to view such mannerisms as worth emulating.
There are many underlying reasons behind the Delhi gang rape and the high occurrence of rape in India, all of which need to be addressed. But social organisations in India need to correct this distorted notion of masculinity by educating the masses on a broader base than done so far and breaking down the prevailing ‘culture of silence’. It is time that social institutions in India work towards developing a “youth culture” that promotes a healthy, open, positive approach to sexuality and a normal relationship between both genders.