According to data, government registers close to 3,50,000 cases against women every year. Out of these, close to 36,778 cases (based on a 3 year data) are rape cases. Remember, these are the numbers recorded by the police; unreported cases due to social and judicial pressure are not included here.
Be it Nirbhaya, a 6 year old kid, Kathua incident or the recent rape incident in Telangana, we have broken our silence from time to time and demanded rapid justice for rape victims. Most of us feel outraged after witnessing the crimes against women. This only means that the human values in us are still alive. Unfortunately, conviction rate for rapists has fallen down to 27.1% in 2013 from 44.3% in 1973 (ref). Since 1973, our population has increased 2.15 times, and we have not only failed to increase the conviction rate for rapists but have maintained it at 44.3%. Over time, we have failed to match judiciary reforms (infrastructure and number of judges) with population growth and have increased the number of lawmakers with criminal background.
Every-time a heinous crime against women takes place, we hit the streets, compelling the government to make statements and we all go silent waiting for the next accident to happen. We need to use this outrage to demand an all-rounder and effective policy around women’s safety from our government.
In this direction, merely increasing the number of judges and courts may reduce crime against women. However, the frequency of cases can be further reduced if we consider other societal, educational and law & order situations. Few actions that can be taken to enhance women’s safety in all areas are:
- Criminal Cases Against MP/MLA: All criminal cases, especially those of MP/MLAs involved in women abuse, must be put on trial in fast track courts. It is our responsibility to filter out such people from the political parties we support. Lesser the number of MP/MLAs with pending criminal cases, more will be the likelihood of positive debates and formation of laws to reduce crime against women.
- Vacant Police Posts: Vacant police posts should be filled and their location should be strategized (by assigning duties) in a way that facilitates fast reporting of police at the accident spot. This will help the unemployment issue, and provide the public with an enhanced safety layer. In the case of increased criminal activities and no progress in solving pending cases, the area in-charge/SHO should be made accountable. Police stations should have CCTV cameras.
- Dark Spots and CCTV: Dark spots in societies should be found out and made brighter. CCTV cameras should be installed in sensitive areas.
- Fast Track Courts: Establishment of fast track courts will reduce the number of pending cases against common people. This will need more infrastructure and qualified judges. As a result, more jobs will be created for the unemployed.
- Ghar Ki Izzat: Sexual abuse should not be considered a hit against family ‘izzat’ (repute), but a case of physical violence. The first step in stopping victim shaming is to dissociate sexual violence from “Ghar ki izzat”.
- Incentivize Learning: Incentives can be provided for taking courses (for all genders) that teach steps to be taken in serious societal situations. Courses such as “How to be a Hero” can be introduced which can focus on responsibilities/importance to act against wrong things happening in society including helping others in accidents and other dangerous situations. This incentive can be in the form of electricity bills, scholarships or other financial help.
- Media Content Rating: Banning sexual or inappropriate content is not favourable, however movies/serials/news media should be categorized based on age such that parents/guardian members can monitor the content.
- Modern Problems: People who try to give a communal angle to such problems should be avoided and reported without delay. Before doing so, it will be better to let them know that their communal activities are dangerous for us as a community.
Apart from the key points mentioned above, more planning needs to be done with sample districts as proof of concept. Our elected representatives should work around these points to formulate policies. Prevention should be the core of every step.