Andher Nagari: Women Unsafe in India

     Women Unsafe in India  Crime, especially against women, is getting worse     

      Over 32,000 murders, 19,000 rapes, 7,500 dowry deaths and 36,500 molestation cases.

      These are the number of violent crimes reported in the country in 2006. Reported is the operative word here as it is very likely that many instances of crime — especially against women — go unreported in India. These are figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently. While Madhya Pradesh is worst off among the states, the national capital continues to hold on to its reputation of being the most unsafe city in India. Delhi takes the top slot for crimes ranging from murders and rapes to dowry deaths and abductions.

   It is a telling comment on a country’s law and order situation when its capital is a cauldron of crime. Instead of leading the way in tackling crime, Delhi only seems to do worse year after year. For instance, while the national crime rate (number of crimes per one lakh population) declined negligibly by .02 per cent in 2006, Delhi’s rate grew to 357.2, more than double the national average of 167.7.

   The most worrisome fact the report reflects is that rape is the fastest growing crime in the country today and as many as 18 women are assaulted in some form or the other every hour across India. Over the last few days, cases of rape and assault have made it to the headlines with alarming frequency. Mumbai watched as an ugly mob attacked women on new year’s eve. In Latur, a 14-year-old was raped and killed by four young men. In Konark, four men were charged with dragging a woman out of a bus and gangraping her.

   Equally horrific are news reports of foreign tourists being sexually assaulted. Recently, an American was molested in Pushkar, a British journalist raped in Goa, Canadian girls attacked in Kumarakom to list a few instances. Cut it whichever way you will, the fact is we in India simply do not know how to treat our women as human beings who have a right to dignity and safety. We love mouthing ‘atithi devo bhava’ but the many cases of crimes against foreign nationals hardly inspire the tourist. This could eventually hurt the prospects of foreign business in India. It is all very well for us to gloat over our economy’s growth rate and dream of achieving superpower status. But economic progress minus a secure law and order environment is not going to take us very far. An unsafe India will hurt us deeply in both the social and economic spheres.

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