What do we know about India? If yesterday at the mention of this country we thought only of Indian tea, Yoga and Bollywood movies, today many people know that its population is over a billion people and it has a strong, dynamic economy. But there is more to it. It turns out that every 22 minutes a woman is raped in this country. Violence against women has become one of the major social problems of contemporary India. Why does this phenomenon stem from and what can be done about it?
Yet another case of gang rape forced Indian people to take to the streets. In the capital of Delhi mass protests were held caused by a wave of rapes. The public was shocked by a rape of a 23-year-old female student who was riding a bus, returning from a movie theater with her boyfriend. This incident that occurred on December 16th, 2012, forced people to demand that the police rushed to intervene.
As it turned out, six men attacked the young lady, raped her, taking turns while her male companion was beaten, and then threw her out of the bus naked in a city alley. The attackers were drunk and abused their victim, saying that she was to blame for what was happening as a decent woman would not be out at night. The woman underwent several surgeries, but doctors could not save her. She died in a hospital.
This case blew up the Indian society. In fact, in India, cases of rape of women are frequent, but that death was the last straw that caused a major reaction of the community. The crowd of protesters demanded that those suspected of rape be hung. The protest was attended by several thousand people. Activists urged to reconsider the attitude to women in the society, introduce tougher penalties for attacks on women and increase control over the police officers investigating such crimes. Police arrested several people, including the bus driver who has not made an attempt to prevent the rape. Some rapists have fled.
Worst of all, children are also subject to such violence in India. These cases are not unique. Last Sunday hundreds of people held protests in the streets of New Delhi related to the resonant incident. On April 15th, a 5 year-old-girl was abducted and raped. According to police, the girl was kidnapped by a neighbor. He kept her in his room for about 40 hours, raped and tortured her, and then locked the door and left her to die. Fortunately, the neighbors of the rapist heard the girl crying and saved her. Police arrested a 22-year-old suspect Manoj Kumar. The story was publicized by the media and sparked a storm of indignation in Delhi and other cities. The protesters demanded safety for girls and women.
Head of Government Manmohan Singh has demanded to dramatically improve women's safety. Both houses of the Parliament adopted a law toughening penalties for rape and other crimes of sexual nature. Now rapists may be subject to death penalty.
In the Indian state of Goa a little girl of seven was raped in a school toilet. Her parents discovered her in a state of shock. When it became clear that she was raped, local residents blocked the school in protest, locking in all the teachers. The toilet where the incident took place is located next to the principal's office whom police detained on charges of negligence.
Paradoxically, the police are not in a hurry to investigate the facts and punish the perpetrators. Last year, over 24 thousand facts of sexual violence against women were registered in India, and only 26 percent of offenders were sentenced to prison terms for similar crimes.
On November 13th, 2012, a young resident of the State of Punjab was raped by a group of individuals. The girl was only 13 years old. She remembered her abusers and called the police. However, the police did not even open a criminal case and advised the girl to withdraw her application and marry one of the rapists. The girl belongs to the caste of "untouchables" that occupies the lowest position in the Indian society. Her rapists, on the contrary, come from powerful families of the upper castes - Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Apparently, this was the reason for the police reaction. They even threatened the girl with sanctions if she did not withdraw her statement. The victim could not stand the pressure and committed suicide. In her suicide note, she described the incident in detail, naming the abusers. Her relatives who found the body appealed to the authorities of the state. Only after that all criminals were arrested, and police officer who "advised" the girl was fired.
The authorities initiated the check of all Indian police, but fundamentally they have not changed the situation. Women are still being raped, and law enforcement is still inactive. The Indians accuse police officers of failing to protect ordinary citizens and covering the criminals.
Experts are trying to establish the main reasons for the increase in the number of rapes in India. The media identifies police inaction, as well as a huge demographic imbalance as the main reasons. Women in India fall victims of violence because they are fewer in numbers than men. In 2011, only 914 girls were born per every thousand of newborn boys, whereas 30 years ago there were 962 girls per one thousand boys.
Today, according to statistics, every 22 minutes a rape is committed in India. The Indian public also blames movies that adversely affect young people. However, the Indians mostly have questions to the law enforcement authorities.
In mid-January of 2013, Delhi police announced that officers would be on duty at three hundred bus stops to prevent potential crimes. However, Indian women do not feel safe next to the police, but rather the opposite. Thousands of rapes are never reported, in particular through the fault of the police. Often women marry rapists to save their reputation. In addition, the country's tradition is very strong. "A police station is the last place a woman would go after being raped," said Vrinda Grover, a human rights activist from New Delhi.
The main reasons for inactivity and police corruption in India are lack of training and low salaries. There are only 1.5 million policemen for 1.3 billion-strong population. They are paid on average $100 a month. Police stations in India are often pathetic shacks without toilets and heating, positions are bought with bribes, and many Indian policemen make their living by taking bribes.
As a result, law enforcement agencies are struggling badly with all types of offenses. But if the problem of corruption and incompetence of the police still can be solved, the issue of demographic imbalance in the country will not be solved in the foreseeable future. Many boys are born in the Indian society. A birth of a girl is considered a burden, which has led to the fact that Indian women have turned into a commodity. A bride from a poor family can be purchased for $300. When a bachelor acquires a wife, she can be "used" by his other relatives. Women who end up in the marital sexual slavery have no rights and are afraid to go to the police. Many men are doomed to loneliness due to lack of brides. For them raping a girl to force her into a marriage is a risky, yet effective way to create a family.
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