Women’s Safety In India: Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway?

What is it with the Indian political and legal establishments that they cannot function until a hue and cry is made or some random video is circulated online?

The recent video of two Kuki-Zomi women being stripped naked, paraded and one of them being gang raped in Manipur amongst a jeering mob has left the entire nation seething in anger. It makes my blood boil as to where this country is headed and what kind of an environment our children are growing up in. Our anger and frustration stems from the fact that we are helpless but those who are in power are not taking any action. It took 79 days for our Prime Minister to address this and when he did it’s all about India’s reputation and shame of 140 billion Indians that bothers him. Besides, the Chief Minister of Manipur N. Biren Singh couldn’t show his statesmanship and governance skills rather camouflaged them with false promises of swift action to be taken. Even though the video was shot on 4th May 2023 the said clip surfaced earlier this week (as internet connections were shutdown in Manipur) making the entire country angry both off and on social media. Politicians like Smriti Irani has condemned this incident vehemently on Twitter quoting, “The horrific video of sexual assault of 2 women emanating from Manipur is condemnable and downright inhuman. Spoke to CM N Biren Singh ji who has informed me that investigation is currently underway and assured that no effort will be spared to bring perpetrators to justice.” As she made this remark she was criticized by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi who felt Irani to be the most incompetent minister of all times even though she handles the ministry of women and child development since 2019.

Now isn’t this about politicizing the entire issue rather than chalking out action points to help the complainants whose plea has fallen on deaf ears till now? Isn’t this another example of using a woman’s modesty as a means of warfare? Why does the law and order keepers need to be admonished by the government to take an action? What made police file a “Zero FIR” even when the perpetrators were clearly visible on camera? Why did it take so many days for the first arrest to be made?

It is highly condemnable that a heinous crime like rape doesn’t get addressed with sincerity in India. With crime against women being on the rise this comes as another shocker that has once again united the citizens of India who have taken this up on their social media handles thus calling out the government for their inefficiency. However what goes amiss is by watching this video repeatedly millions of viewers are once again brutalizing the modesty of those two women.

This particular incident can be likened to Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen, a purported life-story of Phoolan Devi; the scene depicting the repeated opening and closing of door symbolized the number of men who brutally raped the protagonist. Alas! It took a gruesome video for the nation to take note of it just like how it took 79 days for our Prime Minister Narendra Modi to react to the shameful video of the two Kuki-Zomi women being groped, teased and paraded naked in front of a mob.

What is it with the Indian political and legal establishments that they cannot function until a hue and cry is made or some random video is circulated online? While it has come to light that the National Commission for Women (NCW) was made aware of the abuse that the two Manipuri women suffered it was still ignored. The commission was advised to issue suo moto cognizance of the problem along with an instruction to issue an inquiry committee. However herein too the NCW chief Rekha Sharma was late in taking control of the situation; she went ahead with suo moto cognizance on July 20th which is almost 80 days after the incident. Once again a blame game was initiated wherein Sharma accused the Manipur government of not taking action in spite of repeated requests from her.

This entire mismanagement from the law and order department or the government is quite shameful and appalling as to how unsafe women are in India or how should they fight for their basic rights of being protected from such crimes. Once again we are reminded of how Phoolan Devi, a public figure and an active politician then was shot dead in her own official bungalow premises by the infamous Sher Singh Rana, who escaped from the high-security Tihar Jail, was recaptured and ultimately released on bail in 2016. Are we waiting to witness the same with the victims of the Manipur incident? Or will there be an end to this attack against women?

It is time that political leaders and their likes get down to the field and start handling such critical issues with a lot more sensitivity and urgency otherwise that day isn’t far when either Bollywood or any other OTT platform comes up with a story on the perpetrators while needlessly glorifying them on one hand and stripping the helpless victims off their dignity on the other.

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Joyadrita

A dire penchant for words, can summarize my life as “My pen bleeds my life”! read more...

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