It is only natural that the growing incidence of sexual violence in India has come in for severe criticism by the enlightened humanity at home and abroad.
Joining the voices of condemnation on the issue, American Democratic senators Barbara Boxer, Richard Durbin, Ed Markey, Jeanne Shaheen, Debbie Stabenow, Patty Murray, Tammy Baldwin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mary Landrieu, and Chris Coons have recently written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their “shock and horror.” Their letter points the allegations of “complicity and negligence by the local police” and urges Modi to “take immediate action to combat gender-based violence and improve the safety of women and girls in India.”
The senators’ letter reads :
We look forward to continuing to partner with your government on immediate and sustained action to provide adequate psychosocial support for victims of sex crimes, improve gender and sexual assault response training for all Indian police, promote effective implementation of anti-rape laws, increase efforts to prosecute and hold perpetrators accountable, and help decrease the stigma associated with reporting crimes of sexual violence.
Earlier, the U.S. State Department and the United Nations also made criticized the incidence of rapes in India alluding to the need for “changing laws and changing attitudes,” and “systemic failures” in curbing sexual violence. Significantly, the senators’ letter is of a similar tenor. It notes that “more needs to be done to prevent violence against women, improve victim support services, bring perpetrators to justice, and address other forms of gender-based violence including child marriage.”
There is hardly any exaggeration in such outcry against sexual violence in India. An analysis of the various authentic studies conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau, the Human Rights Watch and other agencies reveals that rape incidents have increased over the years endangering the very honor of women in India.
Most rapes go unreported due to the victims’ fear of retaliation or humiliation. India accounts for a rape rate of 2 per 100,000 people. The majority of victims has been in the 18-30 year age group.
More than 7,200 minors are raped each year in India. It is 12.5 per cent of the total number of sexual victims. In sex trafficking and crime against minors India ranks the seventh worst. The annual rape rate in India increased to 2.0 per 100,000 people over the 2008-2012 period.
Sadly, the women’s rights scenario is grim in other parts of the world as well. The rape rates per 100,000 people are 8.1 Western Europe, 14.7 in Latin America and 40.2 in Southern African region.
The annual rape rate (2008-2012) increased to 1.2 in Japan, 3.6 in Morocco, 4.6 in Bahrain, 12.3 in Mexico , 24.1 in the United Kingdom, 28.6 in the United States, and 114.9 in South Africa. In the cases of sexual victims, the minors account for 17.4 per cent in the United States. In sex trafficking and crime against minors, China ranks first, Russia eleventh and Indonesia fourteenth.
As the Prime Minister of India, one of the world’s most ancient civilizations and leading democracies, Modi must address crimes against women. This kind of crime exposes how hollow India’s claims to some of its finest historical traditions and human values really are today!
Father of the Indian Nation Mahatma Gandhi believed in women’s rights to education, dress, divorce, remarriage, employment and declared, “I am uncompromising in the matter of women’s rights. In my opinion, she should labour under no legal disability not suffered by men.”
Gandhi rejected the projection of women as a weaker sex and said, “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, woman is less of a brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than a woman?”
Jagdish N. Singh