According to a poll of global experts, India is one of the most dangerous countries for women with sexual harassment and assault mounting by the day. The country, a notably patriarchal one, has been riddled with various cases of heinous assault and killings of women by men. Some of the perpetrators are their husbands, relatives, former lovers, and fathers.
The 2012 Delhi Gang Rape case shed light on the country’s view at sexual assault and crimes against women. 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, who was dubbed Nirbhaya by the media, was beaten, gang-raped, and tortured in a private bus in which she was travelling with her male friend. There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom who took turns to rape the woman and beat her friend. Eleven days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment but died from her injuries two days later. Her case continues to send chills down everybody’s spine, and yet crimes against women continue.
What the Nirbhaya case showed us was that women will continue to be blamed for whatever happens to them, even if they are not at fault. Politicians and personalities chose to slut shame her, question why she was out at night, and some even said that she should have called her rapists “brothers” so as to stop them from raping. Statements about ‘boys being boys’ were made too. Those who were rattled by her case held candlelight vigils and marches, but it has yielded to very little with women continually slut-shamed and victim-blaming on the rise whenever a woman is assaulted or killed or faces anything that goes without her consent.
The recent poll conducted indicated that India needs to focus on its women, healthcare, economic resources, cultural or traditional practices, sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. The survey had respondents ranking India as the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.
Female infanticide continues to be prevalent in the country, with 2015 reporting that 2000 girls die in the womb when their gender is discovered. According to the 2011 Census’, the state of Haryana had the worst sex ratio with only 861 females to every 1000 male.
Reasons for a girl child often being aborted, abandoned, and considered inferior in the country is because they are still regarded as a burden. They are looked at as objects and believed that they are made to domestic chores and be subservient to the men in their lives while the men toil and “work”. The former is taken away from schools while the latter is given preference for higher education, better pay, and better opportunities.
It’s time we give the girls in our country their due, the respect they deserve not because they are somebody’s daughter, mother, or sister, but because they are also human beings. Times are changing. While we owe thanks to all the women rights activists in the past for making the world a lot more equal for women, we still have miles to go.