As we hurtle towards the end of 2013, it is rewind time. The unfortunate and disappointing feature that pockmarked nearly every month of this year was the number of rapes and molestation cases. Today, news reports focus on the increasing numbers of cases of sexual harassment against women, so much so that it has become a defining topic this year, having its most high-decibel moment in the Tarun Tejpal case. While some people take heart in the fact that women are now more inclined to speak out against such crimes and the so-called societal stigma is shifting to the molester rather than the victim, the fact remains that numbers tell a sorry tale.
While the emphasis on sexual harassment will undoubtedly create awareness and hopefully snuff out this crime to a huge extent, violence against women continues unabated and has even spiked to a huge extent. While sexual violence is one aspect, women are being attacked on all sides.
Just take one cursory glance at the news shows: an ongoing case has hit the headlines about a son who police think may have killed his mother. In another case, a reality television show contestant was arrested in connection with an assault on a woman, a participant in the house of Bigg Boss. In the third instance, an auto rickshaw driver robbed a woman at knifepoint in the bustling western suburbs of the city. In yet another report, the Supreme Court came to the rescue of the daughter of a sitting Rajasthan High Court judge who put his daughter under house arrest to prevent her from marrying her boyfriend. The girl is a major.
These are just some random instances of violence against women, picked up from one fleeting glance at the news of one day. There must be several other cases, but they do show that violence against women runs deep and cuts across societal strata.
It takes different forms — from outright assaults and murder to restraining women from exercising their free will and options. Sexual molestation is the buzz phrase right now and a campaign against sexual molestation is needed. Yet, let’s not lose sight of the larger issue — the many manifestations of violence against women, some overt, some covert, but all deadly in different ways. Looking at just one aspect under that violent umbrella is missing the wood for the trees.