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Assaults in India raise fear for women’s safety

Recent incidents show society, the judiciary and lawmakers have all failed to provide protection

Assaults in India raise fear for women’s safety

Indian demonstrators shout slogans during a rally in New Delhi on Dec. 20, 2015, held to protest the release of a juvenile rapist, the youngest of a group of men who brutally assaulted a 23-year-old student on a bus in 2012. (Photo by AFP) 

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi
India

January 10, 2017

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Two high-profile cases of sexual violence against women in major Indian cities have raised safety concerns among women, and sparked nationwide outrage against the perpetrators.

On Jan. 1 a girl was groped and assaulted by a group of men in Bangaluru in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

CCTV footage shows the girl trying to free herself and punching an assailant.

On Jan. 5 police arrested six people for the assault.

The incident follows an assault during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the nation’s capital New Delhi. The assault was particularly brazen, as the city had deployed 1,500 police officers to watch over the event.

CCTV footage aired on Jan. 5 showed a girl being molested by a group of drunken revelers. The men also attacked police who tried to protect the girl.

As of Jan. 9 no one has been arrested in relation to the incident.

"There is an unwritten license given to boys in India, where whatever they do is acceptable and morality is only applicable to women," Sister Mary Scaria, a Delhi-based lawyer, told ucanews.com.

These incidents show society, the judiciary and lawmakers have all failed Indian women, said the nun who belongs to the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary congregation.

The incidents have raised questions about the safety of women in the country even after stringent laws were passed following a 2012 New Delhi gang rape, in which six men brutally attacked a 23-year-old medical student on a bus. The woman died of her injuries two weeks after the attack.

"No lessons have been learnt from the 2012 incident. The Bangaluru case could have turned into a rape," Jyotsna Chatterjee, director of the Joint Women’s Program, told ucanews.com.

She said the mindset of people in the patriarchal society has not yet changed and the community is not concerned about what is happening.

"There is a need to empower men along with women because this is a problem concerning our society. We should ensure that our children try to learn and understand the constitutional positions of men and women. The community has to be trained to respond," she added.

Expressing dismay over the incidents, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told ucanews.com that the way Indian men think about women should change. "A social norm has been created where women do not get the respect and dignity they deserve. This has to change," he said.

"It will require us to inculcate a respect for life and the dignity of all persons into society. Sickness in the mindset of people is deep. Unfortunately, it is not happening in one part of the country, it is happening almost everywhere," he said.

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