(DW) Despite India stiffening its laws on sexual crimes, nothing much has changed on the ground. A rash of sexual assaults recently once again sparked intense discussion about attitudes towards women. Murali Krishnan reports.
Crimes against women in India, including rape, molestation and abuse, have gone up in recent months and the spate of high-profile sexual attacks in the nation’s big cities bears testimony to this spiraling yet disturbing graph.
Last week, a famous actress from southern India who has acted in over 70 films was allegedly raped inside her moving car while she was headed for the port city of Kochi from her home in Thrissur. The culprits, including her former driver, further took compromising pictures and videos of her.
The case caused an uproar across the country, with many calling for swift and stringent punishment for the accused.
Delhi, which has already earned the dubious tag of the “rape capital,” was also shaken by an alarming incident over the weekend when a 24-year-old woman was raped in an upscale region of the city by a man who offered her a ride after a party. The woman, who is from the northeastern state of Nagaland, was alone and walking home when the incident occurred. Figures show that Delhi reports on average six rapes every day.
Delhi, however, is not alone in reporting such cases.
Recently, a 17-year-old girl was dragged into a car in an upmarket residential locality of Bhopal in the central state of Madhya Pradesh and sexually tortured for over an hour as she was driven up and down the same road that thousands of commuters take every day.
If that was not enough, earlier this month, two persons were arrested in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, for sexually assaulting a mentally-challenged 14-year-old girl.
“Women’s vulnerability varies enormously across states in the country. Besides, poor conviction rates have only seen a rapid rise in gender violence,” says lawyer Vrinda Grover.
Just early this year, scores of young women were groped and molested by a mob of men during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the southern city of Bangalore in an incident that numbed and shamed the country.
Systemic changes required
Such incidents have underscored the ugly history of violence against women in the South Asian country. Data released by India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a government agency, for the year 2015 highlight the dismal level of safety enjoyed by Indian women.