Crime against women in the recent days is growing day-by-day which is unbearable in every respect. The women are becoming the vulnerable group of society as they are being exploited in every corner. In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or a statutory authority. It is sometimes said that in ancient India, women enjoyed equivalent status and rights like their male counterparts. In addition they were properly educated in the early Vedic period. Such statements aren’t verifiable and major historians do not seem to support such conclusions. However, their status declined during the medieval period and several evil practices like Sati, Purdah system etc. were started. But there was a little development in the women’s status in modern India. There were many reformers who worked for the upliftment and betterment of their female counterparts. But, in spite of all efforts, crime against women has been on increase.
Crime against women is of various natures. It includes crimes involving sexual exploitation for economic gains like prostitution and trafficking, adultery, abduction, rape, wrongful confinement, murder etc on one hand and crimes related to women’s property like dishonest misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, domestic violence, dowry extortion and outraging the modesty of women etc on the other hand. These crimes are not only injurious and degrading for the women but for the society as a whole.
The crime has much to do with the existing low status of women prevalent in our society. They are the most oppressed and subjugated section of society. Better access to education has resulted in some economic independence for some girls/woman, but their societal status hasn’t improved much and this situation, directly or indirectly, makes women easy prey and this, in turn, is responsible for increasing crime against women. Promises to address gender gap are far from reality.
In India, women do not seem to enjoy all the rights to freedom provided in the Constitution of India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), India, a crime against women is recorded every 1.6 minutes. Every 4.8 minutes a girl is subjected to domestic violence in this country and every 13.5 minutes a rape case is recorded.
According to the NCRB Report of 2016 released in 2017, cases under ‘Crime Against Women’ increased by 2.9% in 2016 over 2015. Majority of cases were under the head ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (32.6%) followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (25%), ‘Kidnapping and Abduction of Women’ (19.0%) and ‘Rape’ (11.5%). Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of total cases of crimes against women (14.5% of India’s total) followed by West Bengal during 2016.
A more appropriate measure of extent of safety enjoyed by women is the number of violence per unit population (referred to as rate of crime). According to this measure, Delhi emerges as the most unsafe place with 160.4 incidents of violence per lakh of female population (as compared to the national average of 55.2) and Assam occupies the second position. Considering both the parameters, the top five most unsafe areas are Assam, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi. Rape cases have increased by 12.4% in 2016 from 2015. Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh reported the highest incidents of rape during 2016 with 12.5% and 12.4% respectively followed by Maharashtra (10.7% share).
Aggression, violence and crime against women which comprise about 48-49% of population are not a matter of joke. The seriousness and frequency of violence and crime against women is well-evident when the pages of daily newspaper are turned, when television is viewed. Daily hundreds of cases of murder, rape, molestation, sexual abuse and eve-teasing, forcing women to prostitution etc. are reported by media. The gang rape of a medical student on 16th of December, 2012 by 6 persons (under the effect of alcohol) in a bus in the National Capital Region has shaken the whole country.
Under public pressure after the Delhi Gang rape, India widened the scope of what is considered sexual assault and increased the penalty for these crimes. Stronger laws, however, cannot do much if attitudes don’t change with them. It is what a child is taught from starting what matters as it becomes a psychology in child’s mind about what is desirable and what is not. Gender equality should be taught from very starting only. Even the famous lines by Mary Astel (1668-1731) make us think deeply. They are “If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves”. Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence. Government has taken many measures to empower women like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, reservation for women in different areas, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, Ujjwala etc. But we need to teach our children from very starting that men and women are born equal and there should not be any discrimination between them. Then only a real change will come in the society.