Why does violence against women continue to escalate?
There has been a lot of talk of late on the spike of cases of rape in the country. A good number of incidents within a short period of time across the country seem to have stirred our conscience tremendously. Feminist groups, human rights organizations, law enforcers, law-makers, university students, and commoners all have been vocal on the issue.
Analysts in their efforts to find the causes tried to come up with their own analysis from respective points of view. In the meanwhile, remarks passed by a law-maker on the issue made headlines in the newspapers, resulting in quite a flurry. Many recalled the troubling “tamarind episode” unfurled by a cleric earlier on the issue of how women are looked at in society.
Many opine that the perpetrators of criminal acts such as rape enjoy a sort of immunity due to the inefficiency of our legal system to bring them to book as a consequence of complexity in bringing up evidence to prove the cases and the lengthy procedure of the judiciary. There are many instances of very sensitive cases awaiting judgment for an unusually and unacceptably long time.
The beastly acts of the offenders have been rightly denounced by the head of the government in very stern language. The recent rise of rape cases has prompted our law-makers to review the existing laws on the issue and come up with amendments of a relevant bill.
This has led to legalizing the death sentence. Following this very essential amendment, conscious citizens have breathed a sigh of relief and feel that this will be a strong instrument in creating effective deterrence.
There are activists and social scientists who opine that we have a serious problem in our outlook towards women in society. Though we talk a lot about women empowerment, we are far from reaching a respectable position for our women to be on equal standing in all walks of life, and to be able to pursue their own courses without intervention or intimidation.
Even today, there are people who hold the very regressive idea that women should be doing their traditional job of raising and caring for their family in the confinement of their homes.
Attitudes that a certain kind of attire on women incite crimes are simply not acceptable. This speaks of our total failure of treating women with dignity, and seriously impinges on the freedom and constitutional rights of an individual.
Some consider social media, in particular due to the popularity of smartphones, as a means of spreading obscenity among a group of people. Drugs are another nuisance which could also be contributing to such crimes.
Sex-related crimes do take place in highly educated and informed societies as well. For instance, there were 5,930 reported incidents of rape in Sweden in 2019 as stated by Reuters. Of course, a very relevant and subtle element needs to be considered here -- in Sweden and many Western countries, any sexual act without consent is considered as rape even if force and coercion are not involved.
In fact, there are a host of examples that show that even churches, monasteries, and madrasas, which are supposed to be dealing with ethics, religion, and morality, have not been spared of sex-related crimes and violations.
There is a saying regarding human beings: “I am what I am in the dark.” Human beings are unpredictable when it comes to their instincts. When alone in the dark with nobody watching, only then do the original traits of an individual emerge. Hence, we cannot always go by the outward credential of any individual. Teaching and preaching of morality, ethics, and religion are essential for a society, but they do not necessarily offer a shield against transgressions.
At this juncture, some experts have come up with the requirement of sex education for our next progeny, to enable them to be on the right track in treating each other with equality and dignity, upholding respect for their counterparts. This group of experts attribute the rise of such crimes in society on the lack of openness, where sex is treated as taboo, and our conservative mentality.
Human beings as rational animals are required to adhere to certain norms when it comes to the act of sex. By nature, humans are likely to break norms, rules, and regulations, and commit crimes. Here comes the necessity of monitoring, detection, and enforcement to make sure that violators are taken to task.
The more apt the system of monitoring, reporting, detection, and application of legal means to deal with these sorts of crimes in a society, the more people would enjoy their rights to live in peace and harmony. Hence, law enforcement remains of paramount importance in dealing with any offender, in particular sex violators.
Besides this, we have to enhance social awareness, which is a long drawn-out and continuous process. We also have to ensure an elaborate system through which victims will be able to reach out for immediate help in any desperate situation.
Brig Gen Qazi Abidus Samad, ndc, psc (retd) is a freelance contributor. He can be reached at [email protected]