Assaults on Women in India
By Sajjad Shaukat
Indian hegemonic designs and lust for military power has resulted in brazenly ignoring socio- economic factors behind the menace of rape, as sexual assaults are direct outcome of ignored priorities at national level.
Fundamentalist government of the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi still prefers military spending instead of improving social fabric of Indian society. Rising number of rapes are attributable to religious fanaticism, nation’s patriarchy, widespread poverty and lack of law enforcement.
Now, India has become an eternal ordeal for women, and every 23 minutes a lady is raped. In this respect, some women lodge a complaint or FIR, while most of them avoid it, considering dishonor in the society.
In this regard, some major rape cases are notable. On April 14, 2015, an officer of Indian Administrative Service, SN Roy in Haryana has been sent on leave after being accused of sexually abusing a woman who complained to the police. On March 28, a woman from Bengaluru filed a complaint with Delhi police against an immigration officer who sexually harassed her at Indira Gandhi International Airport. On March 21, a court in Delhi granted bail to environmentalist R.K. Pachauri who was facing a case of sexual attack on a woman research analyst. On March 18, the naked body of a 75-year-old woman was found at an ashram in West Bengal’s Burdwan district—a second rape of a senior citizen in West Bengal within a week.
Besides, in a number of rape cases, targeting foreign women have come to the surface in India in 2013. In March 2013, a 38 year old Swiss woman was gang-raped in a forest near Datia town by six Indians. In January 2013 a South Korean student was drugged and raped by the son of owner of the hotel where she was staying.
Regrettably, a British holidaymaker in the northern city of Agra suffered a leg injury when she jumped out of the hotel window to save her honor, as two men entered her hotel room with the intent to molest her. In February 2013, a Chinese woman working in Gurgaon, was raped by an Indian acquaintance. In May 31, 2013, a young Irish woman was raped by a man in a house in Kalighat area. The 21 years old young girl came into with acquaintance, an Indian native named Sujay Mitra in the city of Kolkata where she was celebrating her birthday.
In a notorious case, five years ago, 15-year old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling was raped and left to die on a beach in the tourist resort of Goa. In another shameful case, in June 3, 2013, a US national was gang-raped by three men in a truck in Manali. The woman was attacked, after she accepted a lift by three men in a truck. Police said the men drove the woman to a secluded spot where they raped her and robbed her.
This practice continued in 2014. Taking cognizance of sexual assaults on the tourist ladies, British and Swiss governments including those of other countries have already issued instructions to women tourists to refrain from going to India due to growing risks of insecurity by the Indian officials.
In this context, The New York wrote in June 10, 2013, “Visits to India by female tourists dropped 35 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year. That three-month period came after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December…every day women face the harassment and intimidation in India.”
It elaborated, “Although the per capita rate of rapes reported to the police in India is below, as many sexual attacks go unreported and that the actual number is far higher…sexual offense law in March that imposes stronger penalties for violence against women and criminalizes actions. But attacks on women have continued with an alarming regularity. While Indian women are most often the targets, foreign tourists have been victims as well.”
Sumit Galhotra, a journalist who specializes in human rights in South Asia, said that he has noticed, “While some rape cases in India have received widespread coverage in the local media, but others have not, particularly rape cases in rural India, which are routinely ignored in the press…despite the pervasiveness of India’s rape problem, only a few cases get international headlines.”
In fact, the fast-track court system in India is still not fast enough. In this context, the Indian judicial system moves at a glacial pace, because the prosecution’s primary focus has, instead, been on barring foreign journalists from proceedings.
In this connection, on March 29, 2015, a report under the caption, “Pakistani girl molested, Pune cop held”, published in Indian newspaper, “The Hindu” said that a Pune policeman has been booked for molesting a minor Pakistani national at her residence. Anand Gidde, attached to the Pakistan desk of the Foreigners Registration Office, visited the 13-year-old’s house on March 24 ostensibly for verifying documents and molested her.
Nevertheless, rape of a Pakistani Hindu minor girl is driven by general acrimony of Indians against Pakistan. Despite repeated demand of Pakistani High Commission in India, no action has been taken against the culprit Anand Gidde who has also managed a bail before arrest. Reportedly, the minor girl was raped by the Pune Police official on instance of Indian secret agency, RAW officials to humiliate the family of the victim after they refused to work for RAW.
The incident is an eye opener for foreigners, particularly Hindu and Sikh families aspiring to visit India for pilgrimage or other purposes.
Undoubtedly, major reason for increasing cases of rape is callous attitude of Indian government and political leaders who behave insensitively to these ugly crimes. Hence, foreign governments and media must pay a greater attention regarding growing evil of rape against women in India, denouncing it forcefully and uncovering negligence of Indian police and law-enforcing agencies. Otherwise, sexual assaults on Women in India will continue.