Joint efforts, not denials, make India a safer place for girls and women – West Bengal & Madhya Pradesh

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Why am I returning repeatedly to the theme of rape, I puzzled, as I began this blog post. Because, I realized, the problem’s become worse, not better. Rape stories are headlined practically every day. This morning, I read that a 14-year-old girl was gang-raped in my home state of West Bengal. […]

Even worse, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, a woman, insisted the media is blowing things out of proportion. Things are not worse than they were before Mamata Banerjee was elected, apparently. Worse, worse, what’s the definition of worse? I wonder. Being raped and burnt, when death is the kindest option? Listening to the ravings of a minister busy blaming the media instead of taking action? […]

The fact that rape figures are at their highest ever leaves the women’s movement deeply exhausted. Many women have talked about feeling almost defeated at the state of Indian society today.

Take Haryana, India’s supposedly most successful state. The Sunday Times (of India) informs us that last year, 60 women were raped there every month. The same article goes on to say that Madhya Pradesh and Delhi have even worse figures. Haryana is only the tenth most terrible state, rape-wise, while Mizoram, Tripura and Assam have the dubious distinction of being ranked the three worst states.

Analyzing the rape scenario is complex. It’s easy to throw out theories about Haryana. For decades, Haryana aborted female foetuses without a qualm. Now there are no more brides. A local farmer says, ‘Finding a bride here, is like finding a precious grain of wheat, in a famine-stricken field.’ The men have to go far away and pay money – bride price – to find foreign girls from poorer states like West Bengal and Bihar. So apparently the farmer wasn’t surprised that Haryana’s sons of the soil resort to rape these days. I am told that perhaps Mizoram shows such high figures because women are stronger, fight back and report rape there.

All I can hope for is that more women, especially young women, engage in the fight against rape and violence. I have met many young women whom I admire for their chutzpah. But too many are far too busy with other distractions. […]

No dalit girl can boast such column inches. So no more can it be seen as a battle for dalit, adivasi and poor women to fight. It’s a war out there. And all those bright young things should join it, to make India a safe place to live in. […]

Read the full blog by Mari Marcel Thekaekara in New Internationalist (19 October 2012)
Source: The problem of rape is getting worse — New Internationalist
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In the State that leads in incidents of rape, the shame-inducing statistics are pushing the administration into action

Time was when Payal (name changed to protect her identity), a standard VII student from Madhya Pradesh’s tribal dominated Betul district, had only school, friends and family on her mind. But her little world changed dramatically in March this year.

The 15-year-old, a resident of Betul’s Majhinagar slum, was abducted in public by a gangster, Rajesh Harore.

Rajesh (32) then took the tribal girl to a shanty and raped her. But that was not all. Two weeks later Rajesh, along with two other men, came to her house. As the helpless teenager watched, they shot her mother dead for having approaching the police.

Payal’s story is just one of the several thousand stories of rape that get scripted in Madhya Pradesh every year. […]

Not surprisingly, the top five States in terms of the number of rapes — Madhya Pradesh (3,406), West Bengal (2,363), Uttar Pradesh (2,042), Rajasthan (1,800) and Maharashtra (1,701) — also have dismal sex ratios.

While Madhya Pradesh (930), Rajasthan (926) and Uttar Pradesh (908) have sex ratios below the national average of 940, West Bengal (947) and Maharashtra (946) are just on the threshold.

Attitudes within the government too are a cause for concern. At least two ministers of the Shivraj Singh Chauhan cabinet have publicly blamed victims for bringing rape upon themselves by dressing provocatively. […]

“There has been an increased level of sensitisation within the police force. Only the constables are yet to be adequately sensitised but we are working towards that. We will assess the results once the specialised branch completes six months of operations,” she says. Even then, only an assessment of how safe women in Madhya Pradesh feel, will provide the true measure of CaW’s success or otherwise. Right now, they live in an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.

Source: “Where women fear to tread Mahim Pratap Singh, The Hindu, October 24, 2012”
Date Visited: 27 February 2021

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