The recent incident only attests how sexual crime has become a ‘normalised condition’ for women in India.
It was around 9 PM when a young woman returned to the toll plaza where she had parked her scooter. Her scooter tyre had gone flat and a group of men offered help. What happened next is beyond human comprehension. The ‘helpers’ took turns raping her and then smothered her to death.
The raping and killing of the 26 year old veterinarian in Hyderabad has provoked outrage and anguish across India, the latest in a series of gruesome crimes against women and girls. This “inhuman” act of multiple rape and murder makes one recall the brutal rape and murder of a young woman, India’s very own daughter in 2012. It prompted mass protests and ushered various measures aimed at combating such crimes – harsher sentences, fast track courts.
However, the brutality associated with rape and the inhuman nature of the crime once again provokes fear that the existing measures are not enough. Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu called for further changes to the country’s laws and judicial system, and added that, “it is a societal weakness, a societal disease. It is sort of a lacuna in our systems, both legal as well as police systems.
According to most recent National Crime Statistics, about 33,000 rapes were reported in India in 2017, wherein advocates say that India’s official figures understate the scope of the problem, with the vast majority of victims still unlikely to approach authorities. In Delhi a young women was arrested for holding a sign in a high-security area outside parliament that read, “Why Can’t I feel safe in my own India?” This in itself speaks a lot about the reasons why victims ‘hesitate’ going to the authorities. The reasons are apparent, beginning with prejudice and stereotyping on various lines, ‘victimisation’ and more so the slowness of justice delivery mechanism.
Looking at how rapists are punished around the world especially in countries that considers rape as one of the most offensive crime and also have some really cruel punishments for it, has adopted zero tolerance against rape. In China, the genitals of rapists are damaged; while in Saudi Arabia the rapists are beheaded in public.
For now, this incident of rape and brutally torching has once again brought to fore not only the lacuna in the justice and legal system, but also attests how sexual crime has become a ‘normalised condition’ for women in India.
(Dr. Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)