Sexual crimes: Young women looking for a lasting solution

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By Atif Jaleel, India Tomorrow,
New Delhi, 16 Dec 2013: The December 16, 2012 gang-rape in New Delhi was an eye opener for most Indians. The public realized that there was truly something wrong with society and this horrifying incident was the culmination of a much deep rooted problem. True, there have always been stories of crimes against women in India, with stories of constant eve-teasing, sexual molestation and rape. But this time women were out on the street, accompanied by scores of men alongside them, crying out that they had had enough and wanted things to change in India.

With the recent high profile cases in the media of Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal being arrested for the rape of a junior colleague, and the sexual harassment of an intern by a retired Supreme Court judge, as well as the Narendra Modi snooping case, there seems to have been an increase in the number of cases being reported and discussed in the media.

As per the data of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2011, the numbers of registered rape cases were 572, while 507 rape cases were reported in 2010.

When India Tomorrow asked a few people about if they thought there seems to be an increase in crimes against women, most women said that that wasn’t the case. Banojyotsna Lahiri, a Research Scholar at JNU said, “Some more cases are coming out in the media. Some more cases are getting reported. But this doesn’t show the rise of crimes has gone on. The crimes have always been this high and even higher.”

Srirupa Bhattacharya, a Research Scholar at JNU suggested that there needs to be further introspection into Indian society to figure out what the reasons for these crimes are. She said, “It has been said that ‘such and such person, they are psychologically sick’ or ‘they are mad’ or ‘criminals,’ things like that. We have to see where this so called criminal mind, where does it come from? And what is the psychopath and where does he come from? He comes from this very society that we are also a part of.”

Then what would be the solution to fix this? There were many suggestions given to curb this problem.
Ishleen Kaur, a student at Jamia Millia Islamia felt that it was men, instead of women, who needed to be checked and women should be given the right to wear whatever they wanted. She said, “Women need to respect women. They need not say that, you know, it was because she was wearing such and such dress, you know, men feel provoked. Why isn’t the character of the men being checked instead of women? This is my right. I’m living in a democracy you cannot point me out on what I am wearing. The constitution does not say anything on that. ‘You can’t wear this. You have to wear that.’ So I have this right. Men need to be checked.”

On the other hand, Nikhat Fatima, a student at Jamia Millia Islamia, suggested women to dress more modestly so that men don’t get enticed. Nikhat believed if the Islamic social system was ever given a chance, it had the potential to make things better. She said, “The ‘purdah system’ or the ‘Islamic social system’ is to safeguard the institution of marriage, to prevent the society from sexual anarchy and to eradicate the immodest sexual excitements of the society. Because the purdah system is like a bulwark against it. And let’s give a try to it. Till now we have failed to curb this problem or find a solution to this problem. Let’s give it a chance.”

There are certainly different views and different suggestions to solving the problem. But one thing is for sure. There is definitely something that needs to be done.

Nirbhaya’s wound is still fresh in the mind of the Indian society. Women, as well as men, are still outraged at the current state of women in India. Though, a lot has changed. More stringent laws have been put in place to protect women. And they seem to have finally found their voice. But ultimately, it falls on society to change as a whole for there to be any real upliftment. There is still a lot of work to be done. Then hopefully, we might never again see another “Nirbhaya” happen.

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