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Violence against women in India increases by 7 percent

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 22nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

An annual report by the New Delhi-based National Crimes Record Bureau has found that a "total of 228,650 incidents of crime against women were reported in the country during the year 2011 as compared to 213,585 incidents in the year 2010, recording an increase of 7.1 percent." Crimes against young women and girls in India have become endemic. The nation with the world's second largest population finds itself trying to wrest free of rural tradition in order to greet the 21st Century, with many of its females caught in the crossfire.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Gender-based violence has attracted the attention of government officials. Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told a conference of police director generals and inspectors in New Delhi that crimes against women were indeed on the rise.

Violence against females takes the form of rape, kidnapping, dowry-related cruelty, molestation and harassment.

In one of the most shocking recent cases, a 14-year-old girl from the Sacha Khera village in the Jind district of northern India's Haryana state set herself on fire after a gang rape.

The girl claimed that two male youngsters dragged her into a house, while the sister-in-law of one of the culprits stood guard on the terrace.

The teenaged girl doused herself in kerosene oil shortly after the attack and died at a local hospital shortly afterwards.

Seventeen rapes were reported in Haryana last month, a state infamous for so-called "honor killings" of young women and girls who are thought to have brought dishonor upon their family or community.

Nationwide trends suggest that the incident in Haryana, reports of which shocked the country for days, is far from an isolated case.

Dr. Sreelekha Nair, researcher at the Center for Women's Development Studies in New Delhi, told IPS that data for the period between 2007 and 2011 revealed that cruelty by husbands topped the list, with 99,135 cases reported in 2011.

In order to turn this vicious cycle, women politicians, activists and other leading members of civil society assert that a decline in the quality of governance, lack of public awareness and lethargy on the part of internal security officials have made matters worse for women.

Member of Parliament and head of the Communist Party of Member of Parliament and head of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), T. N. Seema, says that "the mindset of society must be changed to accommodate the heightened role of women in public life."

"The number of violent crimes is increasing every year while the number of (those convicted) for (such crimes) is decreasing. When analyzing records, we can see that only one-fourth of the total accused" received any kind of punishment.

The fact that a male-dominated power structure still has a strong hold over most of Indian has led to a culture of victim blaming.

More women holding positions of power within local administrations has led to widespread awareness about crimes and abuse. At the same time, an increase in the number of registered complaints in police stations suggests victims themselves are becoming more vocal about the issue.

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