A society that is unable to respect, protect and nurture its women and children loses its moral moorings and runs adrift.
In a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters’ TrustLaw Women, a hub of legal information and legal support for women’s rights, India ranks with Afghanistan, Congo and Somalia as one of the most dangerous place for women.
A casual scan of the front page of any major Indian newspaper assaults the reader with shocking incidents of violence against women and children. The recent YouTube video of a teenage girl being molested by a mob in Guwahati caused a national outcry. In a country where women and girls are traditionally revered as the Mother and the Goddess, this is simply unacceptable. A society that is unable to respect, protect and nurture its women and children loses its moral moorings and runs adrift. This problem cannot be solved by the government alone but by a national awakening involving the entire country and civil society.
While women in India generally face numerous disadvantages — poor health indicators, lower literacy rates, lower income levels, poor female to male ratio due to sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, to list a few — the last few years have witnessed some astonishing acts of violence against women and children. Last year, 24,206 cases of rape were registered in police stations across India. Acts of violence registered against women in 2010 total around 2,13,585. Swayam, a Kolkata-based NGO, asserts that between 2005 and 2009, when the overall crime rate rose by 16%, crimes against women rose by 31%. Conviction on rape charges is also likely to be extremely low.