Gendered violence in India has only been on the rise since the lockdown. It is not uncommon to find rape cases, acid attacks, physical abuse, and other forms of violence that target women making the newspaper headlines.
UN Chief Antonio Guterres on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women commented that every 11 minutes, a female is killed by an intimate partner or a family member. Commenting on the lockdown as a factor of economic and physical stress, he pinned COVID-19 as a catalyst that increased rates of violence against women.
Post the big Delhi murder case this year, the newspapers had been doing a commendable job of reporting on similar cases. Their headlines read the following:
"Man held for killing and burning body of a woman he was in a relationship with."
"Human remains recovered from a trolley bag in Aravalli Hills."
"Man kills four of his family, one after the other."
"Angered for marrying someone else, man kills ex-girlfriend, chops her body into 6 pieces."
"Man who killed partner and posted a video of it online, still at large."
In the year 2020, when COVID-19 was a looming threat the UN in India expressed concern over the cases of sexual violence against women. It said that it is essential for Indian authorities to punish the perpetrators of such crimes expeditiously.
India expressed its disapproval of such unwarranted comments and the external affairs ministry spokesperson said the following:
“Some unwarranted comments have been made by the UN resident coordinator regarding some recent cases of violence against women. The UN resident coordinator in India should be aware that these cases have been taken extremely seriously by the government.”
How Do Indian Authorities Deal With Gendered Violence in India?
One should not blame the state for being defensive when external bodies seem to interfere with its sovereignty. India like any other nation prefers to solve its internal problems internally.
So how exactly has India been dealing with instances of gendered violence and misconduct?
"Man accused of molestation in Patna let off with five sit-ups by the local panchayat."
A man from Kannauj village in Bihar's Nawada district was punished by the local panchayat for raping a 5-year-old girl. His punishment to atone for his crimes was five sit-ups.
"Convicted rapists released, welcome with garlands."
Despite not taking a name here, as an audience if you've been following the news, you might already be able to tell which case the headlines are related to. The government refused to release file notings to justify the acquittal of the convicts. The convicted rapists were welcomed with a garland in Gujarat after their release.
When the big Delhi murder scene hit the headlines, every phone screen on public transport seemed to follow it as its sole agenda. Picking up on that interest, the media brought forward multiple instances of similar cases. But where was this reporting before the sensational Delhi Murder case hit the headlines?
And how sensitive have Indians been to this inhumane case of gendered violence?
Extremists have been having a field day turning it into a communal case. Conformists sought victim blaming to consolidate their views. What happened to gendered violence in India then?
Here's what happened:
According to the Hindustan Times news report, data from National Family and Health Survey show that multiple women reconcile themselves to violent and abusive relationships. Women feel the pressure to self-justify violence at the hands of their spouses. Women are targeted for following a particular faith. Women from marginalised classes in India are more likely to face violence at the hands of their spouses.
How have the Indian authorities been tackling all of this then? Before you dare to question that you must keep in mind their distaste for unwarranted comments.
The views expressed are the author's own.