Elusive Justice for Women in India

India is at war with its girls and women, in India there is the culturally sanctioned degradation of women. India can be clearly accused of the largest-scale human rights violation on Earth as there is the persistent degradation of rights of the vast majority of its 650 million girls and women in India.

Sexual violence, rape, and molestation against women in India continues to be a grave issue that needs urgent attention in the world. Facts and figures paint a distressing picture of the prevalence of such crimes, highlighting the need for immediate action. However, it is disgraceful for the Indian government which has consistently demonstrated inadequacy in effectively addressing this menace. Sexual violence, including rape and molestation, continues to plague India, posing a grave threat to the safety and well-being of women across the country. Despite efforts to raise awareness and initiate legal reforms, the Indian government’s inadequate response to this menace remains a cause for concern. It is evident that sexual violence against women is deeply rooted in societal norms and patriarchal attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality. Despite numerous protests and calls for change, the Indian government has failed to implement comprehensive measures to combat this issue effectively. It is important to note that these figures only represent reported cases, and a significant number of incidents go unreported due to various factors, including societal stigma, victim-blaming, and lack of faith in the justice system. This underreporting creates a distorted picture of the true extent of sexual violence in India. Sexual violence affects women of all age groups, with children being particularly vulnerable. The statistics speak for themselves, the NCRB reported that over 32,000 cases of child rape were registered in 2020, indicating a shocking 11% increase from the previous year.

The lack of swift justice and accountability further exacerbates the problem. Delayed trials and low conviction rates send a message that perpetrators can act with impunity. This not only fails survivors but also perpetuates a culture where sexual violence thrives. India has witnessed an alarming rise in reported cases of sexual violence. It is high time for the Indian government to take decisive action against sexual violence by implementing stringent laws, ensuring timely investigations and trials, providing support services for survivors, and promoting gender equality through education and awareness campaigns.

The legal system in India often fails to provide swift justice to survivors of sexual violence. The lengthy judicial processes, inadequate resources, and high backlog of cases further traumatize survivors, deter reporting, and erode public trust in the justice system. While India has introduced legal reforms to address sexual violence, such as the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013, but significant gaps remain.

The absence of comprehensive and gender-sensitive legislation, coupled with ineffective implementation, hampers the fight against sexual violence. Despite legislative measures, weak law enforcement and the lack of sensitization among police personnel persist. Cases of victim-blaming, mishandling of evidence, and insensitivity towards survivors continue to undermine the pursuit of justice. Survivors of sexual violence often face a lack of adequate support systems, including counseling services, medical facilities, and shelters. This absence of comprehensive assistance hampers the physical, emotional, and psychological recovery of survivors.

According to a prominent Indian vocal activist Arundhati Roy; in India under Modi’s administration, there is a permissive attitude towards all forms of violence, including rape, lynching, and attacks on Dalits and Muslims, with perpetrators often being protected and even celebrated. Muslims in India are facing restrictions on where they can pray, with the government deciding on the locations, and protests have erupted in response; this is seen as a tactic to drum up support through polarization due to economic struggles caused by demonetization and the new goods-and-services tax.

The government’s efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence and foster a culture of consent have been insufficient. Education on gender equality, consent, and respectful relationships needs to be integrated into school curricula and public campaigns to challenge regressive attitudes and promote a safer society. The prevalence of sexual violence, rape, and molestation in India demands urgent and comprehensive action from the government. It is crucial to prioritize survivor support, strengthen law enforcement, and expedite judicial processes to ensure justice is served swiftly. Furthermore, the government must invest in education and awareness campaigns that challenge societal norms and foster a culture of respect and gender equality. Only through concerted efforts can India hope to combat sexual violence effectively and create a safer environment for all its Indian citizens, specifically for the girls and women.

Asma Khan
Asma Khan
Author is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. Student of Defense and Strategic Studies, and a M.Phil. Scholar from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan Reached at asmakhandurrani595[at]gmail.com She tweets @AsmaKhan_47