About some days back, I went to my cousin's place which is a few Kms from my home to pick a parcel sent by my parents from my hometown. I took an auto and reached there. My relative was surprised to see that I went there alone. After getting back, she enquired me whether I reached home safely. I was a bit amused, but I could understand and appreciate her concern. In our country, though it is not a taboo for a woman travelling alone here & there and for work reasons, given the rising crime rate and sexual harassment against her, the safety in public places is still a distant dream. Barring a few percentage of women in cities who use their own car or any other vehicle to commute, many women see to it that they are home before it gets dark and especially if they are alone.
The molestation of a girl which happened in Guwahati in July shook the whole country for various reasons. Though it happened in full public view, the by passers did not come forward to curb the situation. It was being videotaped by a cameraman of a news channel who seemed to think that it was his duty to expose this crime. It goes without saying that it was also his duty to save the victim in distress which he did not do. It was like the paparazzi people who were busy taking the images of a dying Princess Diana instead of saving her from that accident. It took time for the police to take action and arrest those perpetrators of that crime. Are they going to be given rigorous imprisonment or jailed for some months and released on bail? The 'crime' the girl committed was going to a bar to celebrate a friend's birthday party. On her way back a quarrel was picked up with some men which led the assaulters to take this step. The so called 'self-righteous people' and even some sections of media were quick to put blame on the girl. Why did she go to a bar and come back alone at night and make herself vulnerable for that crime. We have the society which says girls and women should not dress provocatively or else they are 'inviting' the crime. What about the molestation suffered by women who dress 'decently'? Who will be blamed there? Many sexual harassment cases go unreported because the police themselves refuse to take action or the victims do not come forward due to shame and humiliation.
Closer home, near Bangalore, there was another similar incident that happened in August, but as it was reported locally, this one did not receive the national attention as the other one did. A group which consisted of six boys and two girls from a reputed engineering college in Bangalore went on a picnic to Sangam and Muthathi (near Kanakapura road) to celebrate birthday of one of them. It turned into a nightmare when the boys were attacked by the miscreants and the girls' clothes were torn in full public view. Again here, the police refused to register the complaint initially on the 'advice' of the brother of a Congress leader who asked them not to register a case. Thankfully, we do not have a video of this incident to be watched in Youtube. Local residents came to the rescue of the victims and they held a rally and saw that atleast some of the perpetrators were arrested.
Who are the criminals in both the scenes? The people who committed the crime or the police refusing to take immediate action? You can answer the question. Yes, the laws in our country are weak and full of lapses and still do not favour the women. Somehow, the rape and molestation crimes are not looked as par with the first degree murder. The victims of this crime, mostly girls and women, are humiliated and feel their self worth is lost and the trauma remains with them throughout their lives. Many of them commit suicide to escape the trauma later on. Rarely the perpetrators are awarded the right kind of punishment they deserve for their crime which emboldens more such people to commit these heinous acts. The weak and slow pace of the laws are to blame for the rising crimes against women in our country. How can we advertise our country as 'incredible' and a rising super power when women do not feel safe outside their homes? Will there be a visible change for better after about a hundred years?