India needs to do more on women’s safety - GulfToday

India needs to do more on women’s safety

India needs to do more on women’s safety

The launching of the national register of sex offenders is one of the steps to stem the increasing number of rape cases. Reuters

It’s shocking that a country like India, with its centuries-old rich cultural diversity and adorable credentials, where women deities are worshipped ardently by millions of people, boasts such a disgraceful record when it comes to serious offences against girls and women.

Protests over the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor spread to cities across India on Monday as people demanded tough and swift punishments, including even public lynchings, to stop crimes against women.

In the latest gruesome case, the helpless woman was raped, asphyxiated and her dead body then set alight on Nov.27 on the outskirts of the southern city of Hyderabad. Four men aged between 20 and 28 years have been arrested in connection with the crime.

Anger is mounting across the country and justifiably so. Recurring such cases have shaken the collective conscience of the people and led to deep soul-searching. The nation clearly has had enough with such abhorrent crimes.

The launching of the first-ever national register of sex offenders is one among the several steps initiated by India in recent times to stem the increasing number of rape cases, but questions remain whether even these measures would be enough to tackle such never-ending obnoxious crimes.

Protesters and lawmakers want authorities to ensure that rape cases are speedily processed and those convicted punished instantly, similar to demands that were raised after the fatal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012 that had caused outrage and international condemnation.

On Saturday, hundreds of people laid siege to a police station where the four men are being held over the latest gruesome rape-murder.

Other cases reported this week included a 16-year-old girl who died in a Delhi hospital 10-days after being allegedly raped by a neighbour and then set ablaze.

In Rajasthan, a 40-year-old man has been arrested following the discovery of a girl’s body a day after she went missing from her school in a village near state capital Jaipur.

Investigators said the preliminary report suggests that she was raped and throttled with her school uniform belt before being dumped in bushes in a field.

Indian police registered more than 32,500 cases of rape in 2017, according to government data. But tens of thousands of such cases remain stuck in courts, often hindering victims and their families as they navigate the slow and cumbersome legal system.

In 2017, for example, courts only disposed of about 18,300 cases related to rape and more than 127,800 such cases remained pending at the end of the year.

Also, the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.

As per available data, more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.

The fact remains that stringent measures announced by the government have not proved to be effective as yet in stemming the rot of rape cases. . While laws are in place, there should be no laxity at the implementation level. This is where the sincerity of the authorities, whichever party rules, will be put to test.

Even as more rape cases are reported, sadly it remains hard for victims to receive timely justice.

Zero tolerance against rapists should be the norm. The process of law should not be slow and swift punishment for offenders in necessary.