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APD REVIEW | India struggles with sexual violence against women

APD | Fri,2017-05-19

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By APD Writer Rishika Chauhan

NEW DELHI, May 18 (APD)— In the last few days two rape cases, reported near the capital have again questioned the security and safety of women in India.

A case of gang rape and murder was reported in Sonepat last week, within days of the incident, another rape case was reported, this time in Gurugram, a city in the national capital region (NCR). Both the cities are in the province of Haryana, which has one of the worst sex ratio in the country and sexual violence against women have been frequently reported from the province.

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In the first case, the parents of the 23-year-old victim accused a jilted lover and his friends of committing the gruesome act. According to police, the victim’s body was found mutilated and later the post-mortem report confirmed gang rape and torture. So far, the police have arrested two accused, Sumit Kumar and Vikas, in the context.

In the second case, a 22-year-old woman returning home from her office in Gurugram was kidnapped and raped in a moving car. No arrests have been made yet, however the Gurugram Police on Wednesday announced a reward of Rs. 2,00,000 for any information about the culprits.

Both the cases have reminded India of the gang rape and torture of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi in December 2012. That attack had caused public outcry and pressed the government to increase prison-time for rape to 20 years and review to punishment for voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women.

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Ironically both the incidents took place weeks after the Haryana government launched a special program called ‘Operation Durga’ to end harassment of women in public places.

While the government argues that it is taking steps to secure women and make them safe in India, many say that it is not taking enough measures. Speaking to the media, Jagmati Sangwan, a member of the All India Democratic Women's Association said, that the culprits still "feel they can get away with crimes against women. There is no fear of the police or the law."

The problem, she explained, is that there are few cases that actually reach the stage of trial and conviction. “Police has registering more rape cases than before the laws were strengthened — with 34,651 counted in 2015, compared with 24,157 in 2012 — suggesting that victims are more readily coming forward to report crimes. However, the numbers are still a fraction of the actual rape cases across the socially conservative country.”

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According to women's rights activists, social taboos and police ridicule make many women decide against seeking punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence against women.

The general feeling in the country is that, while the government is not making sufficient efforts to redress the situation, the Indian society which is patriarchal in nature should also be reformed to make the women feel safe and secure in India.


(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)