Almost four years since the country was shaken by protests after the brutal rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in 2012, what has changed for young women in India?
According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there was a 9% increase in crimes against women in 2014. As the recent cases of rape and murder of Delta Meghwal and Jisha show, rape and murder of young women from marginalised communities not only continue unabated but with impunity.
Our middle-class urban outrage doesn’t gather momentum in the face of such violations. Various reports by Video Volunteers Community Correspondents document how survivors in rural India are subjected to not only social stigma but rights violation throughout the process of investigation.
Two teenage Adivasi girls in rural Jharkhand were gang raped in September 2015. Not only were they not given a copy of their medical reports as per their rights, they were further humiliated by being subject to the banned two finger test. The unscientific two fingers test proposes to determine the ‘moral character’ of a woman by judging laxity of vaginal muscles--and that somehow this has a bearing on consent given. How this has any place in modern medicine or juridical practices is anyone’s guess. The commission headed by Justice Verma, set-up in the face of outrage after Jyothi’s death, was the first to recommend that this is scrapped. Subsequent orders followed this recommendation, but clearly doctors feel a need to record this as part of the medical examination in two teenage girls who were raped in Jharkhand.
Similarly, cases of violations committed by people in positions of power remain under wraps for decades. Recently five courageous young women have come forward to remind the people of the horrific night in 1991 when scores of women in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora were systematically raped by the army personnel. The Verma Commission specifically recommended that sexual crimes, specifically rape, had nothing to do with counter-insurgency and army personnel accused of such crimes should not get blanket immunity under laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. And yet, in the interview recorded by our Community Correspondent, Sajad Rasool, the authors reveal how stigma and trauma with continued apathy from the state, has wrecked havoc in the lives of the survivors.
This remains no country for women, particularly the women from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds. Violations against them have remained beyond the media glare. Our selective outrage fosters the culture of impunity, invisibilization and complicity in the rape culture that is threatening the very fabric of our existence.
The video reports used in this blog were made by Video Volunteers community correspondents across India. Our Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.
Madhukar Harmkar, a 60 year old daily wage worker from Maharashtra died by suicide after he could not support his family in times of Covid-19 lockdown.
Locals from Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir were forced to scan their fingerprints for ration despite a suspension order from the government.