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Mandeep Kaur And Bilkis Bano Cases Show Society's Apathy Towards Women

Women in our society are never seen as individuals who deserves the right to be safe and happy.

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Rudrani Gupta
New Update
crimes against women
In the past few days, two cases of injustice towards women have shaken the nation to its core. A Sikh woman named Mandeep Kaur died by suicide earlier this month after enduring domestic violence for eight long years. Then on Independence Day, 11 convicted men in the Bilkis Bano rape case were granted remission by the Gujarat state government. These two cases clearly project our society’s apathy towards women. They expose the negligence hidden in the fake promises to make the country safer for women.
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In the case of Mandeep Kaur, society ignored her calls for help before she died by suicide. The 30-year-old had released a video prior to her death, accusing her husband of eight years, Ranjodhbeer Singh Sandhu of physically assaulting her on multiple occasions. She further claimed that she had told her in-laws about the abuse, but they had not intervened.

The National Commission for Women reported a rise of 26 percent in complaints about domestic violence last year. Further, according to a report titled Gender differentials and state variations in suicide deaths in India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2016, whose results were published in The Lancet, married women account for the highest proportion of suicide deaths among women in India. "Marriage is known to be less protective against suicide for women because of arranged and early marriage, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence, and economic dependence."

In our society, bearing domestic violence and surviving through abusive relationships is seen as a good deed done by women. Such women are praised for being brave and loyal wives who prioritised saving a &t=3s">marriage rather than being selfish and complaining about their problems. And so women rarely take their complaints to authorities and try to brave through the abusive marriages. Walking away and raising a voice against abusive marriages requires innumerable courage, support and resources, which many women do not have access to. If only society would encourage women to call out abuse and help them rebuild their lives after walking away from trauma. But it doesn't. Why? Because society doesn't care.

Just a few days after Kaur’s death, 11 men convicted for raping Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Godhra riots were released from prison. The 11 men were welcomed with garlands, tilak and sweets. It was as if people just forgot about the heinous crime they had committed or didn't think of them as criminals at all. A Member of the Legislative Assembly named CK Raulji, who was part of the review panel that granted remission to convicts advocated their release saying, "They are good people – Brahmins. And Brahmins are known to have good sanskar. The politician didn't stop here and added the men might have been cornered and punished due to someone's ill-intensions. Read about his comments here.

What about Bilkis Bano then? What about her quest for justice? Who is holding her hand and consoling her, while her tormentors are garlanded and celebrated?

Crimes against women: The fight for our rights continues

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Women in our society are never seen as individuals who deserves the right to be safe and happy. Women are viewed in terms of their sexuality and their ownership by men in society. As soon as a woman is married, she becomes the property of the husband who can treat her in whichever way they want. And if a woman is not married, she still remains a target for sexual predators. Women’s lives are never valued. Rather they are expected to devote their lives to saving the izzat and harmony of the family and society.

But harmony can never be wholesome if women’s peace and happiness are not involved in it. Women form half of the population in society. And if they are not happy and safe, it is a major cause of concern. Instead of deeming their silence as happiness or harmony, society needs to question its convenient ignorance towards their plight. This apathy is putting millions of women at risk of abuse and lifelong trauma. This will go on for generations to come, despite progressive policies and hot debates on social media, unless we cultivate empathy for women and issues that affect them, both as a society and a democracy.

Views expressed are the author's own.

Bilkis Bano case Women's Rights Mandeep Kaur
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