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Gone girls: On crimes against women

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A zero tolerance approach to violence against women is the only acceptable course

A zero tolerance approach to violence against women is the only acceptable course

Reported violence against women is the proverbial tip of the iceberg; it conceals more than it reveals. But what it reveals can sometimes shock the collective conscience of a nation, especially a heinous crime that plays out in broad daylight as an assault on a young woman. Last week’s incident of violence in Chennai, where college student Sathyapriya was decapitated as a young man pursuing her romantically pushed her in the path of an oncoming train did no less tug at the heartstrings of the public. The incidents of violence against women in train stations in Chennai are following a nearly copycat pattern after Swathi, a young techie was murdered in 2016, in broad daylight by a man, who was again stalking her, in a railway station. In 2021, Swetha, a young college goer was murdered near a suburban train station by a man in a ‘troubled relationship’ with her. In each of these cases, the inability of the stalker to accept the fact that his overtures were turned down by the girl directly led to the violence. Earlier this month, an eight-year-old girl in Delhi was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered. In September, the bodies of two teenaged girls were found in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. Police said they had been strangled with a scarf and hung from a tree after they were raped. Only a few cases hit the headlines or make an impact on social media. Many more go unreported, the massive unseen underbelly of the iceberg.

In the chequered history of handling the many forms of violence against women in India, the horrific Nirbhaya rape of 2012 is a definitive milestone. It rocked the nation with such force that lawmakers rushed to strengthen laws, and put in place systems and infrastructure that were meant to ensure such dreadful incidents are never repeated. However, according to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, a whopping 4,28,278 lakh crimes against women happened in 2021. These included rape, rape and murder, dowry harassment, kidnapping, forced marriage, trafficking, and online harassment. At this juncture, a decade later, it is pertinent to ask if the Government has rolled out all the strategies conceived of and fuelled by the Nirbhaya Fund. Speedy process of trial and resolution resulting in conviction of the accused is a casualty in courts that are flooded with pending cases. The Sustainable Development Goals underline the importance of building safe, resilient and inclusive cities from a gender lens. No slackening on the part of authorities is acceptable when it comes to dealing with violence against women; zero tolerance alone is acceptable.

To read this editorial in Tamil, click here.

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