India: Women and children regularly raped and abused

Various research and case studies have been conducted on the treatment of women and young girls in India and other south Asian communities, and have illustrated that females are considered subpecies by much of the male populace and are thus prey for sexual predators. 

The case of a 23-year-old student who was gang raped on a bus in Delhi last year, brought international outrage and highlighted a serious problem in Indian society.  With the spotlight of international scrutiny on the treatment of young girls and women in India, many assumed that it might have acted as a deterrent and bothered the conscience of would-be rapists and unscrupulous individuals in society. 

However, such assumptions have proved false as numerous cases of rape and abuse against women and young girls have continued with frequent occurrence, more recently the case of a 21-year-old female who was gang raped by two unrelated gangs in separate incidents on Christmas Eve 2013.

A BBC News report explains that the young woman who was visiting friends in Pondicherry was abducted by three men and raped. After the ordeal she eventually found her friends who she had gone to visit, who tried to console her.  However the victim and her friends were then all confronted by another group of men who singled her out and gang-raped her.

Females who are raped are often left to suffer in silence as they are too afraid to report the crimes for fear of bringing a supposed “shame” on their families.  Others remain silent, as on some occasions it is actually their own family members who ill-treat and sexually abuse them.  As for those who speak out, many of them are ignored, labelled liars and even threatened with further violence and ultimately death.

Although every decent and upright member of the international community will agree that such crimes are indeed among the most grotesque and inhuman acts, and would rightfully join me in condemning such acts, many are actually unaware of the fact that these are frequent occurrences within many South Asian communities.  More worrying is the fact that many of the victims are young children who are sexually abused in homes, schools and residential care facilities.

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlights the failure of the Indian government to both protect children from sexual abuse and provide adequate treatment for victims.  According to the report many children are effectively mistreated a second time by traumatic medical examinations, and by police and other authorities who do not want to hear or believe their accounts.

Krishna, who was 12 years old when she was raped, sums up the attitudes towards females and illustrates an apparent contempt and disregard for women and young girls.  Krishna explains, “When I got to the police station I was interrogated, I was kept in the police station and was locked up. They kept insisting that I change my statement, otherwise they threatened that something would happen to me.”

It is time for governments around the world to heed the cries of the oppressed and alleviate their pain and suffering.  Governments must act swiftly to establish more robust systems and implement new legislations aimed at improving protection for children from sexual abuse.

As the year draws to an end and many celebrate the festive season, let us reflect upon our lives and consider how fortunate we are to be in a situation of peace, comfort and security.  As some celebrate this winter, others continue to suffer and their human rights continue to be violated.

According to the articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” (UDHR, Art. 1). 

In considering such overtures, the grave human rights abuses and degradation of human dignity witnessed around the world clearly illustrate a serious failure by some members of the international community, to promote that spirit of universal brotherhood.

As different regions of the world continue to be embroiled in turmoil, ostensibly 2014 promises to be a year of increased human rights violations. 

Let us then reflect upon the human rights struggles of 2013 and make a New Year’s resolution to have a more active 2014 and be at the forefront in the struggle to protect and promote human rights.  

You can read the BBC News report here

You can read the full HRW report here
 
See other similar case here

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