Column: Piecemeal Approach Won’t Solve This Problem

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Opposition parties have launched a series of protests against the spurt in crime against women. Considering the enormity of the problem the protests should be converted into and sustained as a people’s movement. The fact is that while the whole country is talking about the gang-rape of a veterinary doctor in Telengana and, more recently, a teenage girl in Uttar Pradesh in a car with a police logo, cases of sexual assault are taking place with alarming regularity in our own state.

The latest shocker has come from Puri where a woman was raped by a former police constable in a government quarters in the holy town. What compounds the crime is the fact that the accused had offered to help the girl who trusted him. The pro-tem director general of police, Satyajit Mohanty has promised justice to the victim but women now won’t be satisfied with justice in individual cases of rape. They want systemic changes to ensure a safe environment for the member of the fair sex. They are determined to reject a piecemeal approach to the problem.

Official statistics on rape in Odisha present a terrible picture. In the first six months of the current year itself, the state has registered 1,149 rape cases, a majority of these being cases of sexual assault on minor girls. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures show that Odisha is among the 10 Indian states considered most unsafe for women.

Going by statistics minor girls are among the most vulnerable. There has been a marked increase in attacks on them in recent years. They have been falling prey to predators in varied garbs, sometimes their own relatives and even teachers. At least 4,749 such cases of rape of minor girls were reported in the state between 2014 and 2017.

The spike in sexual offences is a sign of the times. We are living in a society on the brink of moral collapse with a near-complete erosion of the once cherished values that had held the social fabric together. Now nothing is sacred or sacrosanct. No one has any scruples about stepping over the line.

While that is a long term concern the government needs to set itself immediate goals on the law and order front. The most important of these should be improving the quality of investigation so that the conviction rate in rape cases could go up. Sloppy probe resulting in acquittals only emboldens the offenders and demoralises the victims. This must end.

Amidst the surrounding gloom, however, there is one positive development—the change in society’s attitude towards rape victims who are now rightly called survivors. This has encouraged women to come forward to register complaints and challenge their tormentors. Consequently, the number of registered cases has gone up significantly in the last decade or so. This could be a matter of concern for the law-enforcing authorities but it is a healthy sign from the point of view of women who, unlike in the past, are not prepared to take their humiliation lying down any more.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)