“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Women safety in India is a big concern that our society is facing. The delinquency rates against women in the country have only risen to a great range. Women think twice before stepping out of their homes not only at the night, but also in daylight. This is, unfortunately, the sad reality of our country that an important part of our society lives in constant fear. India is known a land of culture,traditions and values where women is given most respected place in the society from ancient times. Women were given the place of Goddess Lakshmi in the society. But today, it is painful to watch the status and dignity of these deities are at stake.
The Law of the land has given equal rights to women as men; however, the society do not adhere to this.Women are now on respected positions in the country, but if we take a look behind the curtains, we see even then they are being oppressed. The list of horrific crimes against women are non- ending and Some of the crimes are rape, honor killing, child abuse, dowry death,prostitution, acid attack, female foeticide, trafficking, child marriage and more.For women in India, the safety statistics are unattractive. The National Crime Records Bureau in 2011, reported 228,650 crimes against women, including murder, rape, kidnapping, and sexual harassment. That year an international survey ranked India the world’s fourth most dangerous country for women, behind only Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Pakistan. The ill -treatment of women in society is becoming non- acceptable, but it was the case of Nirbhaya (2012) that caused something to break in India—a long-held willingness to accept danger to women as share of daily life. That was the time when the public outcry breakout. Countrywide protest of “Freedom without fear” was carried to bring a change and to halt such heinous crimes against women.
Although the term Women Safety holds a very wider connotation but here specifically we are restricting Women safety in view of criminal offences only. Women safety may be defined as “Women’s safety involves strategies, practices and policies which aim to reduce gender-based violence (or violence against women), including women’s fear of crime.”
Reasons for increasing Women Safety in India
1. Patriarchal society
There are diverse kinds of tools that is being used by the male dominated society to prove their control over the female. Eve teasing, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence against women are these weapons used by the male to display the male superiority. This is one of the chief reason violence is increasing in India and women safety is a concern in India.
2. Delay and latches of Indian judiciary
Along with the cognizance set the slow pace of operation of Indian judiciary is another major reason for the increasing women safety in India. As the Courts are overburdened with cases it takes a long pace of time to seek justice.And according to a legal proverb “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
3. Inefficient implementation of legislation
The police of India are not effective and not unbiased and that is the reason why the cases of violence against women takes long time in the investigation phase. For the sake of social pressure and humiliation many women do not come forward and report the matter to police. This is one of the many reasons why the numerous cases are unreported than the actual number of violence happening against women.
4. Lack of Education and Values.
This is another most important reason which creates the need for women safety in the society. Most heinous crimes are being committed as the people have lost their morals or moral values. Ex. Sexual offences i.e“Rape is a disease which attacks from everywhere to everywhere. It is an evil that has no boundaries. It is present in every nook and corner of the world.
It doesn’t differentiate between a 1-year-old kid and an 80-year-old lady. From parties to workplaces to our homes, rape and harassment have become a common news of the day. The survivors of these heinous crimes are then left to be humiliated throughout their life on top of that without seeking justice. Some of them even spend their whole “after rape life” on ventilators or they are burnt alive.” A recent example of this is the Unnao rape case, Hyderabad Veteran rape case .
Preventive Measures to ensure Women Safety
Every citizen needs to resolve and positively agree that each person has the right to be safe and with dignity (Art.21). Our Constitution states that every single person is equal before the law (Art.14). Women and girls must be allowed to access education, healthcare, choice of career, choice of marriage partner, or the right to stay single, choice of garments, friends, or leisure activities which are their basic rights.Thus, they must be given respect and be allowed to exercise their rights without any interference and this can only be achieved when they can feel safe and free in the environment.
· Incorporation of Moral Values &Education
Education in this respect is the need of the hour to dissolve restrictions around the issue, and also help men in the country understand about respect, boundaries, and consent so that they do not encroach upon women’s rights. As individuals, each of us can respect one another; let us be active bystanders where we prevent sexual violence and intervene and most importantly do not perpetrate it.
Most important part played is by the moral values of the person because today various instances are seen where the offender is highly educated and holds an esteemed status in society. Sometimes the crimes are committed by those who are in an authoritative position or a close family person where a person is harassed by their own people at home or workplaces.
· Role of the government
The government must safeguard that the law in effect is enforce. The laws for the protection of women are not effective enough or if the system is deterring and inhibiting the idea of achieving women safety would not be fulfilled.Clearly, there has to be an elevation of infrastructure to protect the rights of women. Half the Nirbhaya fund is lying unutilized despite the despairing need for effective helplines, fast-track courts, sensitive judicial officials, widespread and quality help desk centers and shelter homes, and funding for programs to educate and advocate on women’s rights has been emerging as the need of the hour.
· Regulation of Police System
The police play a vital role in providing safety and security to the general public. It must ensure police stations are convivial places for women to make complaints. Today’s scenario is that it does not serve anyone easily, that is the reason why the official statistics on crime against women are severely under-recorded. Overturning these complaints only weakens the system and encourage offenders to carry on these horrendous crimes. This ultimately affects the country as of now there is only perception of safety in India.
In the recent fuming case of Hyderabad veteran doctor where it came into light also that the Police Station refused to register the case pertaining to jurisdiction if the police would have recorded and investigated, she may be saved alive.
· Implementation of strict safety policies and guidelines
Effective policies at work Corporates can play their part by guaranteeing they have effective policies to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace. They must also work on their organisational culture to foil a hostile work environment for women. As judicial precedents Vishakha guidelines were framed by the apex Court to safeguard the interest of women at workplace. It is a great investment for the future if their employees are able to work contentedly with each other without violating rules of consent or playing power games.
· Principle of Collective Responsibility
Representation of women on screen needs to modify. Bollywood must stop the ethos of objectifying women and prolonging tropes that are harmful. Instead they can focus on strong lead roles for Women which signify their strength, independence, will power, self-esteemwith dignity.Thus, the film and other industries should change their stereotypes from male- dominated to women centered objective.
It is worth remarking that the women reported feeling unsafe in both secluded and swarming places, as well as during the day and night. While they are afraid of being physically hurt, harassed, molested or raped in deserted spaces, they also fear harassment in crowded spaces, most commonly in crowded public transport, public toilets shopping places ,streets etc .This cannot be also neglected that increasing cases of marital rapes, mental and physical harassment from their own family and peer groups are forcing the female section to commit suicides making their own homes not a safer place . A wide-ranging set of interventions and programs are needed to put forth the issue of women’s safety and inclusion – such as urban design and planning, provision of services, policing and law enforcement, community involvement and awareness building for men, women and youth.
As the past few arising incidents are clearly depicting that Juvenile offenders are also increasing even after reducing the age criteria in the Nirbhaya case. Making safer cities for women and girls needs to be put resolutely on the agenda of a wide range of stakeholders including local and national governments, service providers, police, educators and communities. Government and police initiatives, as demonstrated in these upcoming years, have not been too fruitful in addressing the concerns of violence against women and safety in a strenuous manner. While there exist some established mechanisms and laws, the issue of violence against women has only recently been recognized as a serious problem that needs to be tackled.
Amity University, Madhya Pradesh