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WHY ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN STILL NOT SAFE IN INDIA?

By- Ankita Bhushan, Advocate, Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Bihar

 

INTRODUCTION

Offences against women and children are a heinous crime and a serious public health concern. It is a threat to everyone but women and children are particularly vulnerable to victimization because they often lack appropriate means of protection. In the past decade research says that there is an increase in growing of such offences. Victims often hesitate to report such crimes because of fear stigmatization or societal condemnation. Some records that have been collected suggest that rates of crime against women range from 15 to 71 percent in some countries and that rates of crime against children top 80 percent.

In our society, Women and Children are usually the main targets, who suffer in a number of ways mainly because of wide gender discretion, and they are considered weaker, helpless and economically dependent. Dowry, domestic violence, divorce, female infanticides, child abuse and exploitation, prostitution etc are various offences faced by the women and children of our society. In India, we have laws for all these aforesaid offences but still there is some issue as women and children are still not safe in our country.

The researcher in this paper will give highlights on the issues relating to protection of women and children in India.


WOMEN

Offences against women have long been a problem, in times of peace and war. The offences range from very mild teasing to rape and murder, and takes place at home, in the streets, at work places, in short everywhere. Few crimes against women are reported, fewer still prosecuted, and a negligent number of accused are actually punished. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005, The Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013, Maternity Benefit Act,1861 etc are some women specific legislation. Apart from the aforesaid legislations The Constitution of India, The Indian Penal Code, 1860 And the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 also have some provisions regarding the protection of women. Despite having numerous of laws, women in our country are still not safe. The question arises here is WHY?

First and foremost reason why they are still not safe is the mindset of the society. Few people in our society still consider Women as weak, helpless and economically dependent. They still don’t get the amount of respect they deserve. Some people still think that women have no value, and they are here only for a particular purpose i.e. to serve their husband and family. Some people think household work and housekeeping is the domain of women, and they have no right to roam out in night, they are doing wrong things and wearing wrong clothes. Like if we go back to 2013 incident, Delhi gang rape, statements of the accused reflect their sick mindset. This person was trying to justify his act by saying Nirbhaya should not have gone out of the house after 9 o' clock. One of the other convicts said that a girl is "far more responsible for rape" than a boy. This clearly showed he had no remorse for the heinous act he had committed. The lawyers, who were defending the culprits, also took part in the interview and shared their client's views, blaming the victim. And as long as we look for solutions which focus on the victim, the patriarchal culture which suggests that boys will be boys, men will be men, women can never feel safe. As long as judges rule that victims ought to marry their rapists, women can never feel safe. Women are not even safe at their home. Offences like bride burning, domestic violence, Chula issue, divorce, over working at the work place, gender discrimination etc are faced by women. Women are not cared for in the health standards that they should be cared for, especially during child labor. The maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world in India. They are malnourished because they are forced to eat their husband’s leftovers. Many women are also not provided with the basic education that they need to fully understand and use their new- found rights.