Insensitive, corrupt judicial and law enforcement system fails to deter crimes against women

By Neelam Jeena. Dated: 12/7/2019 11:56:33 AM

The unstoppable incidents of gruesome rape and murder of women in India despite having stringent law that provides capital punishment are evident of the fact that an insensitive, inefficient, corrupt and unaccountable judicial system and law enforcement has failed to check such heinous crimes that are blot on humanity.
Merely enacting new and strict legislations to curb occurrences of incidents that bring bad name to the country on the global map should not be considered as only way out to deal with it but what we require is an efficient and accountable law enforcement machinery at all levels including administration, government, police and judiciary and that should be properly monitored and held accountable. The fault for judicial and police inefficiency lies with the government only because it has failed to address the problem of acute shortage of judges in the courts that led to the piling up of cases.
A report titled "Violence against Women: Where are the Solutions" that deals in details with the all aspects of crime against women has found out that violence against women is a social, economic, developmental, legal, educational, human rights and health issue. In her report noted social scientist Indira Sharma pointed out that crime against women is preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in women. She finds out that the relationship between violence against women and mental illness has not been adequately explored and application of laws related to violence in the setting of mental illness is difficult and it has continued despite the religious and social sanctions against it in all cultures.
Indian Society has always held its women in high esteem. In Hindu mythology that represents the majority of the country's 1.2 billion population, man and woman represent the two halves of the divine body. There is no question of superiority or inferiority between them. The religious philosophy of Hindus is witness to the super-women, such as Gargi, Maitreyi and Sulabha, whose faculty of reasoning was far superior to that of ordinary mortals. Many female deities Saraswati, Durga, Laxmi, Kali etc., are worshipped by majority.
At the same time it also has the darker side and under which the patriarchal system has continued since ancient time. Customs and values were made by men to favour men. Women suffer this discrimination in silence.
This side of Hindu mythology that has frequent come under severe criticism by scholars and historians, made Indian women to adopt contradictory roles. The strength of a woman is evoked to ensure that women effectively play their traditional roles of nurturance as daughters, mothers, wives, and daughters-in-laws. On the other hand, the stereotype of "a weak and helpless woman" is fostered to ensure complete dependence on the male sex.
Cases of violence against women are increasing sharply in various parts of country. A National Crime Record Bureau, data says there is one dowry death in the country every 78 hour, one act of sexual harassment every 59 minute, one rape every 34 minute, and one act of torture every 12 minute and almost one in every three married women experienced domestic violence.
Studies that various non-governmental agencies conducted have reported violence in 19- 76% of women (75%-76%) in lower caste women; 42-48% in Uttar Pradesh and 36-38% in Tamil Nadu; and 19% in an urban slum community of childless women. In Western India, 15.7% pregnancy-related deaths in the community series and 12.9% in the hospital series were associated with domestic violence. In Uttar Pradesh, 30% men reported beating wives. 22% of woman of childbearing age from a potter community were physically assaulted. 34% of those physically assaulted required medical attention.
A population-based study that a non-governmental grouping that deals with issues relating to abuse in the family environment carried out in seven sites in India, looked at the association with poor mental health. A total of 9938 women participated (from rural, urban slum, urban non-slum areas). Forty percent reported experiencing violence during their marriage. Fifty six percent had self-report questionnaire scores indicating poor mental health, the report said.
The International Centre for Research on Women reported that 85 percent of men admit they had indulged in violent behaviour against their wives at least once in last 12 months. Fifty seven percent of men admitted to sexual abuse with their wives. Thirty two percent of men admitted to committing violence on their pregnant wives. The men indulged in violence to establish their supremacy over the weaker sex. Subtle and insidious forms of violence include repeated humiliation, insults, forced isolation, limitations on social mobility, the constant threat of violence and injury, and denial of economic resources, another government-backed report pointed out.
The incidents of cruelty against women continue to grow despite have a number of international Instruments to curb such incidents. The United Nations General Assembly resolution endorsed the urgent need for the universal application of women's rights of equality, security, liberty integrity and dignity. Article 55 and 56 of United Nations charter cast a legal obligation on United Nations organization to promote respect for equality and human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 5, states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There have been three United Nations world conferences on women. One held in Mexico in 1975, the second in Copenhagen in 1980, and the third one in Nairobi, wherein strategies were framed to promote gender equality and opportunities for women. These were based on three objectives: Equality, development and peace.
Since the incident of infamous Nirbhaya rape and murder case of 2012 in Delhi and recent similar incident in Hyderabad where a female veterinarian was raped and brutally murder leading to outpouring of anger across the country and also rocking the parliament, the country has witnessed an comprehensive debate on the issue that raises questions over the ability of the government, law enforcing agencies and judiciary to prevent frequent repeat of such incidents.
The current situation relating to women's safety that currently confronts the nation, has been aptly stated by Indira Jaising, a lawyer known for her legal activism in promoting human right causes, who said: "It's time for India's court to gaze inwards and throw out deeply embedded patriarchal notions that stops, judgements from being fair to women. Sexism within the system has to go before it does more damage".
The law fraternity cutting across different biases are by and large seem on board on one point that a new legislation is required for granting interim relief (a big amount to be paid by perpetrator) to a victim of severe sexual assault. The money may be utilized for the rehabilitation of the victim as in most of the cases they belong to the deprived and vulnerable sections of the society.
The parliament that has the authority to enact a law should formulate such a legislation under which state should be asked to take entire responsibility of the victims of brutal sexual assaults. Moreover, the proposed legislation should provide for enhanced punishment for violence perpetrated against women particularly with unstable mind illness.
The issue of cruelty against women has become an agenda that has virtually brought all the women organizations currently operating in the county together on one platform that is a common and unified fight against this crime against humanity.
"Each and every women or girl is being victimized. We not only want change in our judicial system, but also in the mind set of our society. We think every political party and social media should work seriously and think beyond the gender sensitization," said Annie Raja, President of National Federation of Indian Women. To give fillip to this campaign, the chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal has been sitting on a fast unto death over the issue of crime against women.
A woman activist named Anu Dube was recently staging a peaceful sit-in protest outside the Parliament House, expressing her anguish regarding the latest incident of gang rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Telangana. Instead of addressing the issue of increasing rape and sexual violence against women, the Delhi Police harassed and assaulted her. The woman suffered marks of injuries.
"The protest staged by Anu Dube cannot be seen in isolation. It is the reflection of the anxiety and fear that is growing amongst all sections of women in our country day by day, "said Maimooma Mollah, President of CPI (M) backed Janwadi Mahila Samiti.



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