In India, patriarchy rules the life of women. Women are often seen as subordinate and inferior to men and are put through various forms of violence and agony. Being an integral part of the society, women play a pivotal role in the progress and prosperity of the society. But, if we look over the role of the society towards women, the society is lagging behind.
The status of women has gone through various changes over the past years. There are various laws, programs and policies run by the government to empower women, but when it comes to the security of a woman, no law has been able to ensure the security and provide justice to every woman. Justice is not just giving punishment to the culprit but also about bringing back the dignity of a woman and preventing the psychological trauma that every woman goes through. But unfortunately, the law fails here.
The two major reasons for the prevalence of sexual harassment in the society are, firstly, the patriarchal structure of the society where the ideology of male superiority is stronger. As a result, men are encouraged to do whatever they wish to without having to fear the consequences of their actions. Secondly, the ingrained belief that women are merely and not human beings in their own right.
Sexual harassment may be non-verbal, or verbal and includes physical harassment as well. From obscene gestures to lewd comments, to stalking, staring, and psychological abuse, sexual harassment can take place anywhere, either in a school or in a park, on a street, in a market, in office or at home. The incidents of sexual harassment affect the mobility of women. It is one of the reasons girls drop out of school is sexual harassment. A woman might even leave her job because she has been harassed at her workplace.
Sexual harassment is an inescapable part of a woman’s life.
If we look over the statistics reported by National Commission for Women- In 2013 the commission received 249 complaints relating to sexual harassment which has risen up to 336 in 2014. The aforementioned statistics depicts the increase in the number of cases filed. But, it still doesn’t provide us with a clear picture as there are several cases of sexual harassment which are not being reported. The reason could either be the ignorance by the victims as they prefer to keep mum about such incidents,or even if they try to take an initiative, the fear of character assassination would stop them because the society normally sees the girl or a woman responsible for the incident. Also, the procedure of interrogation by the police officers makes the victim step back.
Every new government that comes into power has ‘Security of Women’ as a priority in their manifesto and promise to bring about change are done blindly. But it remains only on papers because we are the ones who are actually aware of the scenario at the grassroot level. There are hundreds of cases filed in the court and judiciary is also punishing the guilty but the gap between the number of cases and the justice delivered to the victim is quite wide because of the void created by lack of specific law to deal with the problem. Agreed , that just implementation of law shall not guarantee reduction in sexual harassment cases but it can discourage men to some extent.We need to internalize the fact that the need for law has emerged because the harassers are not introspecting their actions. It is important for them to realize that women are not sex objects. They deserve the same respect as the men do.
When a discourse on the development of the nation takes place, various facets are taken into consideration. Of all the facets the security of women is considered as a vital one because women are an integral part of the society, and have the same rights as the men do. It is their right to live in a free and secure environment. Nobody has got a right to violate anyone’s rights. It is our responsibility to create an environment that would encourages women to move out of their homes,and to work, develop and progress.