I could have named this post differently – in fact, I debated it before settling on “lawlessness”. What I wanted to mention was different – it was “rape”.
India has been plagued by serious incidents of rape for the past many years, with global coverage after the 2012 rape and assault on a Delhi girl who died later. It was a totally heartless killing by hardened criminals with no sympathy or remorse. The world was shocked on the atrocity meted out to a simple woman taking a bus ride in Delhi, and Delhi was awarded the unceremonious title of “the rape capital” of the world.
The incidents of rape continued to mount even after the public disgust against the 2012 Delhi rape. India is a vast country which is of course, difficult to manage and run, but lawlessness is apparently on the rise. The society does not help as it is very conservative and old-fashioned, mostly accusing women for the incidents. However, things changed after 2012. Public anger has been on the rise when every case of rape is reported in the media, seeking to push the government and police into remedial action very quickly.
India has a serious problem in its ability to deliver justice quickly, as its judicial system is handicapped with lots of vacancies, and moves ever so slowly. The prosecution of offenders sometimes lack objectivity and seriousness, especially when politics rears its ugly head and interferes with the police or judicial system.
The recent cases of rape have further exacerbated an already strained public mood. The gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad around 10 days ago brought the public mood to a boil, demanding swift justice. Four suspects were arrested but then killed in what the police called as “encounter killings”, stating that the suspects tried to escape.
Very complicated scenario – no one knows for sure if these folks were the real rapists, but then the public appeared to be praising the police for the killings of the suspects. The fundamental issue of women safety in India is still not addressed by any of the state governments or the central government. Women fear for their safety when they venture out especially in the evenings or nights – the lawlessness on the roads is clearly the result of lack of policing and the lack of involvement by the community as such in safety matters.
Women are victims in rape incidents and cannot be condemned for their dress, behaviour, or timing – they might have genuine reason, as much as any man, to be on the street or in a mall at any time; or they might be working as a nurse in a hospital during the nights. They can never be accused by society for doing what they wish to do, or for the vocation they choose.
The real culprits are the criminal men corrupted by criminal mindset, and the police which need to be tracking all criminals and ensure safety on the streets. Governments should ultimately own the responsibility of ensuring peace, security and safety for the citizens. If they cannot do so, they should resign. There has to be a punishment for dereliction of duty, even in a democracy.
Unfortunately, the incidents of rape continue to rise in India, and India’s claims that women are akin to goddesses sound very hollow and untrue. The reality on the ground is very different. A society which does not tolerate wrongdoing and crimes against women will elect leaders who are true to their commitments, not just anyone who pays the electorate for a win. A judicial system needs to demand more allocation of judicial resources from the government. A law enforcement agency should demand for more allocation of policing resources from the government, and should not turn away women who come into a police station for lodging a complaint. Reporting a rape should be taken on par with a murder report, nothing less. Women cannot be ridiculed or challenged by the police.
India has a very long way to go before it can claim the exalted status for its women that it has always claimed for them. The world is viewing India from the perspective of a “rape” lens, with potential travel advisories against travel to specific locations. Not at all good for the image of India. Not good for the women of India.
Think about it without a bias.
8th December 2019