No Means No – Stop It

When Will We Learn to Respect Women?

E very year India celebrates a nine day festival called Durga Puja which is dedicated to Hindu Goddesses. It’s an irony that a country which worships woman is also rated as the world’s most dangerous place for women. From, time to time, horrific rape incidents in India receive widespread media attention and triggerpublic protest against government’s apathy, slow response, and lack of security for women.

However, the problem is much more deep rooted. Blaming the police and governance might not offer solution to the problem. The conviction rate for such cases is decent in India; it’s the families and society in general where the real problem lies. Rape is not seen just as a crime, but also a dishonor to the family of the survivor. That’s why a majority of rape cases go unreported in India. Moreover, in 98% of the cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim and can be a close family member.

There are some other societal flaws which highlight our insensitivity to the fairer sex. Objectification of women is quite prevalent in media. Bollywood films often have tasteless song and dance routines (called item numbers) which rarely have any link to the movie script, but are included just to showcase women as eye candies. At work places, it is not uncommon for employees to undermine a woman’s intellect and achievement and sexual harassment is also quite prevalent. All this just shows that there’s time before India gets mature enough to respect its traditions and understand that worshipping women figures during a nine day festival is a useless gesture. Women in India don’t demand the status of a goddess; they just want equality and respect.

It is this respect and equal treatment that can become the first step towards stopping crimes against women. Fortunately, one can see some of the positive changes in the society. The government is encouraging education among girls. Every year, girls score better than boys in the secondary and higher secondary examinations. The awareness levels against sexual crimes are much higher today. Offices and organizations are making sure that cases of sexual misconduct are dealt with proper protocol.

Moreover, the recent #MeToo movement has given strength to the women to speak up against sexual crimes. Such path breaking movements will help girls stand up against sexual crimes instead of staying quiet and tolerating the advances of criminals within in the society.

Moving on, there is still a lot to be done. Much of the stigma around cases of rape is created by the society. The society often ostracizes rape survivors. The survivor is often haunted by media-persons who are only hungry for headlines, lack sensitivity, and often fail to hide the identity of the rape survivor. Even the police at times refuse to file FIR reports blaming the victim to be a participant in the entire act. There’s a lack of standard protocols for dealing with rape survivors and offering them proper psychological support. In such a scenario, the rape survivor is left alone to fight the entire battle.

Until there’s a movement to support, accept, and assure rape survivors that they aren’t the guilty party, their situation is unlikely to be improved. It’s high time and we should take steps towards this change.

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