India and Her Civil Society

Women's Empowerment

Dr V. Mohini Giri – Social Activist & Padma Bhushan Awardee

Our country is signatory to UN sponsored Millennium Development Goals until 2015. We are committed to adopt eight identified goals and to achieve them by 2015. These include among others objectives like Poverty Alleviation, Achieving Universal Primary Education and Reducing Child Mortality. One of the critical goals is to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. This agenda now appears to be a travesty as our civil society daily bemoans despairing crimes committed against women, girls and infant girl-children.

One has only to open the morning newspaper to read the everyday occurrences of atrocious rapes, heinous crimes and horrific sexual crimes committed against females all over the country. The recent dreadful rape of a seven month infant girl by a forty year old neighbor in our own backyard in Zingabai Takli, in Nagpur, reminds us that this does not happen in faraway places but right in our own midst. News channels depict horrifying pictures of similar stories getting repeated endlessly in every corner of the country.

Our heads hang in shame when we hear of foreign women subject to attacks and brutalities. In March 2004, a 59-year old Australian Brahma Kumari adherent, Dawn Griggs was murdered and raped on her way to the sect’s headquarters in Mount Abu. The rape and murder of English teenager Scarlett Keeling brought international attention to cases of rape in India.  Software engineer Nayana Pujari was raped and murdered by her escort driver in Pune in 2009.  And of course the worst – the gang rape of a 23-year old student on a public bus on 16 December 2012 sparked large scale protests all over.

What is going wrong with the moral fiber of our civil society? The fact is that we have become immune to the horrible incidents. A few days back in New Delhi Dr Mohini Giri, former chairperson of National Commission for Women was beaten up when she halted her car to intervene for a teenage girl being openly molested on the road by a group of men in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Dr Mohini Giri, 76 years of age, headed the commission in the mid-nineties. She is the daughter-in-law of Past President V. V. Giri! If something like this can happen to her, what of lesser mortals.

According to National Crime Records Bureau of India, 309,546 crimes against women were reported across India in 2013! The highest number of victims and majority of victims were in 18-30 year age group! Both these statements are fallacies. Most rapes go unreported because rape victims fear retaliation or humiliation. We all know even infants and little girls are raped. The latest statistics of NCRB state that every day 93 women are raped in our country. Also, that there is a gradual increase in the number of rapes. Despite mass protests after the Nirbhaya incident Delhi continues to be an unsafe city, followed closely by Mumbai, Jaipur, Pune. Other cities may not even be registering offences.

The truth is that conviction rates for rape cases in India need to be addressed severely. We need to deal harshly with rapists, murderers and pedophiles. There is no need to psychoanalyze their behavior but warrant immediate punishment that will act as a deterrent for others even thinking to attempt such crimes. We do not have to exhibit civil behavior to them but make them realize their crime will not be tolerated. Justice has to be exacting and swift. Delays keep victims minds re-living the tragedy for years on end. As a civil society we have to be on the side of the victims and not with the perpetrators of crimes. Make our laws more compassionate for victims and survivors of such brutalities. Let us see justice being done.

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