The virus of rape has to be scotched - GulfToday

The virus of rape has to be scotched

Violence Against Women

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

The coronavirus pandemic is sending the world into a tizzy, killing over a million and infecting many more. However, there is another virus that has plagued society for years, but for which there seems to be no cure: rape. It is the weapon of the depraved and the criminal, who will stoop to any level to satiate their perverse desires.

If there is one country that has grabbed the limelight for all the wrong reasons in this sphere, it is India. The increasing number of recent crimes against women in India is a matter of grave concern, not to speak of the fact that they have angered many across all walks of life.

On September 14, a 19-year-old woman from the UP city of Hathras who belonged to the lower caste of Dalits, was gangraped by four men. The victim was dragged by the dupatta –a long piece of cloth worn around the head, neck, and shoulders by women from South Asia – around her neck to a field when she had gone to collect cattle fodder, which injured her spinal cord. When she was held down, she apparently bit her own tongue, which caused a deep cut.

The victim, youngest of five siblings, was on life support for some time. On Tuesday, she died.

The gruesome case is the latest in a long line of violent incidents against members of the Dalit community, formerly known as the “untouchables”, who are at the lowest rung of caste system. Dalits are subjected to daily discrimination and thousands of attacks and sexual assaults each year, according to rights groups.

The incident triggered widespread protests, and incensed people from everywhere, including politicians, cricketers and Bollywood stars.

In Kolkata, protesters were soon detained after burning a large image of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh – which ranks as the most unsafe state for women in the country.

Unfortunately, the spurt in rape cases serves to lend credence to the widely held, and disturbing, view that India is one of the world’s most dangerous places for women, with a rape occurring every 15 minutes, according to federal data. But these are figures that rights groups say vastly underestimate the scale of the problem.

A June 2018 Reuters report says India is the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour. By way of example, there were nearly 34,000 rapes reported that year.

Respondents also ranked India the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.

India’s 200 million Dalits have long faced discrimination, and campaigners say attacks have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based sexual violence.

A 14-year-old girl, belonging to a backward caste, was found murdered in Bhadohi in eastern Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. The police said her head was bashed with bricks.

Women across the nation also continue to suffer alarming levels of sexual abuse.

An average of 87 rape cases were reported every day last year, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, but large numbers are thought to go unreported.

The highly publicised gangrape and murder of a woman in a bus in New Delhi in 2012 brought tens of thousands onto the streets across India and spurred demands for action from film stars and politicians, leading to harsher punishment and new fast-track courts. But the violence has continued unabated.

The Madras High Court commented that the holy ‘Bharathabhoomi’ (India) has now turned into “a land of rapists” where a rape occurs every 15 minutes.

Women’s rights groups say crimes against women are often taken less seriously, and investigated by police lacking in sensitivity.

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