| by N.S.Venkataraman
( January 6, 2013, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) 20 women students from cross section of Chennai city colleges participated in the debate on Assault on women in India and they expressed the following views.
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1. Dress code
Dress code is not an issue and it is evident from the fact that even minor girls are being abused. It has been seen that a number of women subjected to abuse are well dressed and lead conservative lives.
2. Mindset of rapists
The rapists and those who assault women are often mentally imbalanced men due to bad upbringing, as well a sadistic mindset. Such people can be controlled only by punishing them severely and putting the fear of law in the mind and not by a process of counselling
The recent increase in alcohol consumption amongst men all over India has significantly contributed to incidents of assault on women. Government has to take some steps to curb alcohol consumption in the country severely. Consumption of alcohol degrades the man and brings out the baser elements in him which affects the security of helpless women around
There are several bills in parliament such as to prevent harassment of women in workplace, which are pending for several years.
There has to be care in framing extreme laws such as hanging of rapists, since the system can be subverted to punish the innocent. Such extreme laws would give extreme power to those who may abuse the judicial process, as there are several examples of miscarriage of justice in which innocent get punished and discovered much later.
5. Implementation of law
Even the implementation of existing laws is not done strictly, largely due to corruption in police administration as well as interference of the politicians and bureaucracy in the functions of law enforcing machinery.
Obviously, this indicates that there is lack of adequate governance and Prime Minister and Chief Ministers should be held responsible for this scenario.
Security of women cannot be enhanced by mere laws alone but it should be accompanied by quality governance.
6. Teasing of women in public places
Teasing of women in public places disturb the mental peace of women but this issue is largely ignored by public and police as if it’s a minor issue. However, this is the beginning point of harassment of women and teasing of women anywhere whether in bus stops or office premises should be put down with heavy hand. This can be done by the police but they often ignore this problem. Small crimes against women should not be ignored.
7. Influence of cinema and television
There is a need for more strict censorship of the cinemas, television media and advertising which often use the image and body of women in suggestive ways to attract viewership and in the process demeaning the image of women in the society.
The mindset of the average country men is not yet ready to receive such images without being influenced negatively. The guidelines for censor board appear to be discretionary and the appointment for members of censor board is often based on political considerations.
8. Shame should be with the men and not with the momen
While womens abuse have been taking place, hardly 30% of the cases are reported and women generally put up with the problem feeling helpless and fearing social humiliation. This gives confidence to the men who abuse the women. When such things happen, women should come out boldly and report the matter so that the men feel ashamed. The silence of the women is a chief source of strength for the abusing men.
9. Categorise the crimes for juvenile offenders
If someone would be caught as a rapist, he has to be punished severely irrespective of his age. Certain crimes should not be given lenient punishment on the basis of age and rape and assault on women should fall in this category.
10. Need for special campaign to spread awareness amongst women
A strong campaign, particularly in rural areas, should be carried out in a sustained manner amongst women folks about their rights, prevailing laws and regulations that would give confidence to them to protect their dignity and fight against those who assault women
11. Insensitivity of politicians
The presence of those facing charges of rape and assault of women in legislatures and parliament is disturbing. The unsavoury comments of several politicians about women in recent times are disappointing. Those facing charges of rape against women should be debarred from contesting elections, if the cases would be admitted in court of law.