Friday, 22 March 2013

More gang rapes and a new law

Today three ghastly stories of  rape were reported. Two of them were of gang rape, and one was about a sessions court announcing the punishment for the founder of a home for orphans in Mumbai who had raped the inmates under his care, often with accomplices.  Each of these stories is a chilly reminder of how unsafe it is to be a girl or a woman in India. These crimes come in the wake of the gang rape of a Swiss tourist as she camped with her husband in Madhya Pradesh and a British tourist who jumped from the  first floor balcony of her hotel when the owner tried to assault her.  

Links to the three articles -

But today, there is a difference. For along with the these terrible cases was the news was that the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha,  had passed the anti-rape law which provides for stringent punishment to offenders of sexual violence, and makes stalking a crime in India (for the first time and high time!)

The law is somewhat a watered down version of the recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee. The debate in Lok Sabha saw our elected legislators sniggering, laughing, making outrageous comments during discussions on the bill. It showed the mindsets of the persons we elect as leaders  A very sad commentary, indeed. But I am a born optimist and I see the new law as a step in the right direction. Look: At least they found the time to discuss the issue, which had been pushed into oblivion by our political worthies for decades. It took the very tragic and brutal death of a student following a gang rape  in a bus that moved on the streets of  South Delhi to to shake the country out of its stupor. If this could happen in South Delhi,  India's poshest area, what would be the situation be for women elsewhere? Shudder!

Our leaders showed their utter ignorance of the reality for the Indian woman by making stupid outrageous remarks. Wish women could band together and see that men like these never get elected for another term. I think the time is coming when this will be a reality. The out-of-sync leaders will be shaken off as dead wood. And it will be the urban  young educated women and men who will be leading the charge. We saw the wonderful and spontaneous way they came out demanding that the country be made safer for women.  

The law that was passed could have been stiffer. Why  are the perpetrators of acid attacks not being given life imprisonment? The number of women in India who become victims to acid attacks by men who cannot take 'no' for an answer is just too large to be ignored. These women are scarred for life. And the man receives little or no punishment, and goes about living a normal life. It is sad that the legislators did not view the crime with the seriousness it deserves. 

And marital rape failed to find mention. Also, even boys are raped. I have come across brutal cases of homosexuals having been  raped, two of them by policemen!

But I am glad that our legislators have at least started noticing that crime against woman needs to be tackled. And have started talking about the issue. The safety of our girls and women, and of those who come to this land as visitors, should be given paramount importance. For a home, or a country, where women feel unsafe has a lot to introspect on.

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