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Many cases of crime against women in shelter homes have been brought to light of late. The author’s concerns are no different from that of any other woman in the county.
Jabbar Patel’s film Subah (Hindi) and Umbarthain (Marathi) won many awards. In the film Smita Patil played the role of an in-charge for a women’s shelter home. She discovers that a local MLA has been abusing inmates of the home for his lust. Released way back in 1982, Jabbar Patel was aware of the rot in the society unleashed by our netas even more than three and half decades ago. Since then the rot has spread deeper and wider. Recently the abuses of women in shelter homes have come to light again, it seems there are no signs of their abating.
The cases are just an eyewash as hardly any arrests have been made. The Social Welfare Minister of Bihar continued in the office even though her husband allegedly visited the shelter homes regularly for obvious reasons. The probe was handed over to CBI and yet the Bihar Chief Minister has blamed everyone except his own government for all the horrendous crimes. He refuses to resign. After public outcry, the minister for social welfare in Bihar was made to finally put down her papers. The party in power at the centre, which is a partner in the Bihar Government, has suddenly turned blind, deaf and mute.
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As its the government that fund these shelter homes, can it be concluded that these rapes were patronized by the State of Bihar? This is shocking. Maybe nothing shocks us anymore because women do not count anymore in this land of ours. In fact, not even in the world. The plight of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram never evoked any action or reactions except some crocodile tears and a bit of lip service as petrol is more important than women. Our Indian leaders excel in copying the leaders of the world. These shelter home rapes have confirmed that India is the most dangerous place for women.
As our nation was debating about these horrendous rapes on girls, another eerily similar story of a shelter home in Deoria in UP broke out. In the state of UP, the government continues to be in power as if nothing happened. After all, where is the necessity to even pay lip service when girls are abused? Beti bachao , beti padhao is meant to garner votes, not for action. Then in MP a deaf and dumb girl was raped at a state funded shelter home. Nearly half of India’s population is terrorised by molestation and rapes. Mostly Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) needs to be revoked for all the accused in such cases.
All these cases suggest that the law enforcers knew about the crimes that were being committed at the hell homes. Yet they chose to turn a blind eye and kept on sending potential victims to the said hell. Maybe they just did not care. As law enforcers and law makers have become predators, whom do we turn to, for relief? To the courts?
Opting for None Of The Above (NOTA) at the time of elections can be a solution. As none of the political parties appears to be bothered about the horrendous rapes against minor girls .
There is this feeling that death penalty for rape against girls up to age of 12 years would stop such crimes or even reduce them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many accused in such cases would kill the victims. Many cases involve relatives of minor victims. Hence complaints will not be filed and the accused would continue their lustful actions. Awarding death penalty is a long & expensive process. It defeats the very purpose of punishment. Faster trials and certainty of punishment is the key to reducing such crimes.
As many as nine states have refused access to the agency appointed for social audit of the shelter homes. Even after the Ministry of Women & Child Development along with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) wrote to the states. Audit is an order from the Supreme Court. The states have to realise that until and unless social audit is done, abuse and misuse will continue. An unsafe environment breeds fear and lawlessness.
Good governance includes social audit in addition to accounting and administrative audits of institutions. That has to be regular and continuous not a one time affair. Only then will the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign ring true. After all, the shelter home scam came out only because of the social audit by TISS.
We need to stop shaming the survivors, their parents and friends. It is often said that girls asked for it as they were wearing revealing clothes, their parents did not care and so on. In the aforesaid cases, none of this shaming worked and yet, society has made a profession out of shaming survivors. The more vulnerable, the more they are prone to having participated in the heinous acts. The least we can do is support the survivors by not saying anything against them. Our anger needs to be directed towards the accused. Even the Supreme Court said that identity of rape survivors needs to be protected. In our nation, victim or survivor shaming is a license many swear by!
We also need to inculcate respecting women at our homes. After all, as charity begins at home, so does everything else. Only then will the men learn to respect women. The same would be reflected in the society. Hopefully at least then such hell might cease to exist.
First published at the author’s blog
Image via Pixabay
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I am a law graduate from Government Law College,Mumbai.I am a Fellow in
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