Rising crime against women

The graph of crimes against women is rising across all metropolises in the country. From stalking to groping to molestation to rape – the ‘macho’ mentality of the modern male satisfies itself in many ways.  Objectionable behaviour with women which was unthinkable even a few decades ago has now become commonplace. What is more, such incidents have ceased to disturb social conscience. Society seems to have got inured to such crimes. What is more regrettable, the police also usually take a callous attitude to the victims. In a particularly repulsive incident the Kerala police allegedly asked a rape victim whether she had ‘enjoyed’ it. There are others who are inclined to play down the seriousness of crimes against women but rather find fault with the way the modern women dress. Society’s tolerant attitude to those guilty of crimes against women encourages these criminals.

The outrageous incident at Bengaluru does not seem to have touched the collective conscience of society. And why Bengaluru alone? Scores of such cases are happening in big or small cities and towns, Kolkata included. A particularly reprehensible crime is child rape, betraying the morbid mentality of the criminal. The frequency of such crimes is increasing. After the Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi in 2013, the criminal law was amended to provide for harsher punishment for crimes against women. But it has not had any tangible effect on the criminals. There have been many more such cases since then.

One thing is very clear. Mere law, howsoever punitive, cannot prevent this type of crime. Only a moral repugnance and a sense of respect to women can bring about a change in the situation now prevailing. Changing times have made it unavoidable for many women to be at their workplace till late in the night. It is not possible for the police to ensure the safe return home of every working woman. It is a shame that such crimes take place regularly, are reported regularly and are forgotten regularly, without overly disturbing us. Then there are the silent, unreported, cases where working women have to suffer indignation at the hands of their bosses and male colleagues silently and helplessly. Speedy trial and condign punishment in every such case may have a deterrent effect. But the ‘due process of law’ is so cumbersome and so lengthy that it takes an inordinately long time to secure justice for the victim. Only a change in our attitude to women may bring about a change in the prevailing state of affairs.

Saturday, 7 January, 2017