State of Violence against Women in India - Educating masses and Change in Attitude toward Women is Critical
Saturday, July 30, 2011

By Manish Madan

Miles apart from India, here in Michigan I wake up. First thing, I open up India's leading news website to catch up on what is happening in one of the most promising and an economically rising nation. I wish to read some good stories to begin my day but my morning is struck by a certain news item that I find almost every other day, on the front page - deeply engraved by a common theme “Violence and brutality against women”.

Allow me to share a few horror stories reported in the year 2011: A seventeen-year old girl on character suspicion was mercilessly beaten with canes and quietly buried by her father and brothers. While the men were ruthlessly beating her to death, the other family members including the women acted merely as mute spectators.

In another story of emotional, sexual and physical violence against women, a 26-year-old man from Mumbai rapes his wife, forces her into prostitution. Sexual assault, molestation, kidnapping, rapes, especially gang rapes and rapes of minor girl child are another set of horrific crimes against women reported quite frequently in the Indian media. For instance, a 5-year old girl was raped in Delhi by a 24-year old accountant. A 32-year-old primary school teacher was held for a rape of 10-year old girl. In another shocking incident, a women was dragged into a courtyard and allegedly gang raped by five men. After rape, the men poured gasoline on her and set her on fire. In a similar incident, two men molested a 14-year old girl and when she resisted, they stabbed into her eyes resulting in the victim to lose her sight.

Over 500 rapes were reported in the year 2010 just in capital city of India, let alone other cities and towns. Rising crime against the women in India should be one of the major concerns for our country to deal with, for a nation that cannot provide its women and children a safe environment may fall in line of tarnishing a good part of its image nationally as well as internationally. Recently, a survey by United Nations of 5,000 women in collaboration with the Delhi government and a nongovernmental organization, reported that about 85 per cent of Delhi's women feel scared of being sexually harassed. Three out of five women recounted facing sexual harassment even during the day, and 50 per cent of the surveyed women said they were harassed on public transport. In effect, Women and Child Development Minister of Delhi recommends installation of CCTVs to track harassment in the buses and stricter laws.

Though this initiative might make the busses safe momentarily but it may only displace the scene of harassment from one site to another site. I believe 'educating the masses, sensitizing them toward such serious issues' is a critical component which the government and the policy makers need to talk about. Perhaps it is time to go back to the basics - educate the masses in India, young and old, raise public awareness, and essentially encourage change in attitudes toward the women in India.

While this article is in no way a representation or directed toward larger mass of respectable Indian men but it s written to appeal to those few young, old, middle-aged men of our society who commit such heinous acts against women in India (or globally) and brings disgrace to our respective societies. It is to add to the sensitivity of the matter, as to why national debate on this topic is a must, and finally why policy makers and law enforcement agencies needs to raise their bars, get tougher against such crimes, and help the country become a much safer haven for the women.

I envision a society that provides equality of status and opportunity, that assures the dignity of men and women and most critically that refuses any form of violence against women. I hope you join my vision.

Manish Madan, Ph.D. is a graduate student in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. He can be reached at

This was printed in the July 31, 2011 - August 13, 2011 Edition


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