Why this petition matters
According to the Crimes in India Report 2017, a total of 3,59,849 cases of crimes against women were reported in the year 2017. This number has risen from 3.38 lakh in 2016 and 3.2 lakh in 2015. A total of 32,559 cases of rape were reported in 2017 in India. Rape by known persons still constitutes a large percentage of all the cases reported such that out of 32,559 reported cases, in 93.1 percent cases the accused were known to the victims.
It is not just the system that has failed the women of this country but all of us as a society are equally responsible. While insufficient and inefficient policing, sluggish justice delivery system and few convictions are the major reasons behind lack of faith in the system, victim blaming and stigmatization, general lack of public safety and overall low status of women also have an important role to play.
The recent Unnao Rape case in which the victim and the witnesses were meticulously silenced to death, despite the case being in limelight in media, shows that those in power do not have fear of constitutional machinery.
There are multiple levels of stigmas and stereotypes at play in this situation and all rise from the well-ingrained patriarchal nature of the society. It operates to the level that sexual violence against women is justified to curtail sexual promiscuity and regain sexual control. The narrative of sexual offences mainly focuses on blaming the victim for having worn certain kinds of clothes for having been out on the roads at night and even for having interacted with the opposite gender.
Instead, we as a society need to take a step back and visualize why an overwhelming majority of crimes against women are committed by people known to the victims and/ or take place within the four walls of the house. A 13-year-old girl was raped by 2 men at her home in Shahjahanpur when her parents had gone out to purchase medicines. A 3-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her 11-year-old neighbor in Dehradun when the girl’s parents were not at home. A 43-year-old mentally challenged woman was raped by a social worker in Mumbai.
These are just few illustrations in a long list of gruesome instances of rape in India. This is not surprising, many believe, in a hierarchical, patriarchal and increasingly polarised society. As evidenced in the Budaun rape case, the rapes against the lower caste women are seen as “power rebalancing” measure within our hierarchical society.
An awful sex ratio imbalance - largely because of illegal sex-selection abortions - means it is a country full of men. The country sees 112 boys born for every 100 girls, which is against the natural sex ratio of 105 boys for every 100 girls. A preference for boys has meant that more than 63 million women are statistically ‘missing’. Many believe such skewed ratios can contribute to increased crimes against women. The northern state of Haryana, which records the highest number of gang rapes in India, has the worst sex ratio in the country.
It is high time to take action, to not tolerate violence against women. In this light, DHARA FOR SUSTAINING LIFE, a society formed by civil service aspirants based in Delhi, has come up with the following recommendations for the government, which shall act as a step towards the creation of a safer society for the women of our country:
1. Increasing reporting of crimes against women by:
- Ensuring anonymity to those persons who report crimes against women, including third party complainants; this shall be on lines of a Good Samaritan law (as enshrined in the recent Motor Vehicles Amendment Act).
- Allowing reporting of crimes against women to any police station irrespective of the jurisdiction so as to ensure immediate police response.
- Formation of Family Welfare Committees in all municipal wards which will be responsible to spread women rights awareness, and to encourage the women to report about crimes against them.
2. Make public places safer for women through:
- 24x7 electronic surveillance of public transport (including buses and metros).
- Recruitment of at least 1 in 8 drivers as female drivers in public transport and by taxi aggregators.
- Mandatory deployment of all-women PCR vans in cities.
- Allowing women to be employed in shops and commercial establishments even during the night shift.
3. Introduction of gender sensitivity training for all police personnel including those already in service.
4. Giving opportunity to the prosecution to oppose the granting of bail to the accused as has been provided for under the Triple Talaq Law. This can ensure that the woman is not harassed by the accused.
5. Changes at school level:
- Introduction of new curriculum for sex education from Class 10 onwards up to graduation, which covers matters related to love, sex and relationship (with focus on issues of ‘consent’) along with the biological aspects of reproductive and sexual health.
- Formation of teachers and students council to ensure that child delinquents and other at risk children get special attention.
6. Ensure mandatory psychological counseling and rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes against women with help of Yoga and alternative medicinal therapies
Women constitute nearly 50% of our demography. Providing safe environment for them is prerequisite to help them attain full potential. With this in mind, preventing crime is our major focus area. Restoration of rule of law, generating fear of punishment and promoting value education are the key aspects of our PIL.
We beseech the government to pay immediate attention to systemic reforms and bringing about attitudinal change across the society, special focus being on the malleable minds of children. We also urge YOU to support us in this endeavor by signing this petition so that our voices reach the government authorities. Change has to come from within us.