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Updated on September 2, 2014

Indian Civilization is one of the ancient civilizations of the World. Indian culture has a beautiful blend of varied form of dances, music, dishes, festivals, attires and even gods. Indian tradition reflects great respect for females which make it unique from other civilizations of the World. One can drive it from the fact that women are represented as goddesses Saraswati (Knowledge), Lakshmi (Money) and Shakti (Power) and treated at par with gods Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Mahesh (destroyer). In India a girl child is considered as Devi and homage is given to them on various festivals and occasions. There are numerous instances which show that our culture and tradition reflects respect for women. There is nothing wrong with the cultural base on which we are standing. Then what is going wrong by which women in Indian Society are losing her respect and dignity in the society. This is definitely not just a present scenario but prevailing from time infinite. However it is just the character, level, and amount of crime which is changing. Crimes against women exist since independence and even before that. Pre-independence sati and bigamy was a curse and after independence dowry deaths and domestic violence took their places. Now along with dowry deaths and domestic violence, eve teasing, acid attacks, rapes are causing threat to women’s modesty, respect, liberty and dignity.

First step towards protecting the rights of the women was taken way back in the year 1860. First Indian Law Commission under the president ship of Macaulay had drafted the Indian Penal Code which received the assent of the Governor General on 6th October, 1860. The Law Commission has made sexual offence and offence relating to marriage punishable under IPC. However even after enactment of IPC the cases kept on increasing. In the year 1961 government under public pressure and to eliminate social evil of dowry has enacted Dowry Prohibition Act 1961. In the year 1983 Indian Penal Code was amended to incorporate section 498 A to cover cruelty by husband or his relatives punishable under IPC. The offence under section 498 A is Non-Bailable and Non-Compoundable. Even the amendment in IPC was not sufficient to curb the offences done behind the four walls against the women. Then in the year 2005 the government enacted Domestic Violence Act 2005 which made punishments even more stringent.

The 2012 Delhi gang rape case involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka when a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern was beaten and gang raped in a private bus in which she was travelling with a male friend. The woman died from her injuries thirteen days later while undergoing emergency treatment in Singapore. The incident generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad. Subsequently, public protests against the state and central governments for failing to provide adequate security for women took place in New Delhi, where thousands of protesters clashed with security forces. Similar protests took place in major cities throughout the country. As a result of the protests a judicial committee was set up to study and take public suggestions for the best ways to amend laws to provide quicker investigation and prosecution of sex offenders. In 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 (Nirdhaya) was promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee, several new laws were passed, and six new fast-track courts were created to hear rape cases.

If one go through the sequence of legal amendments and new enactments it can be very well observed that the parliamentarians under public or media pressure or for whatever reason are just making more and more stringent laws to tackle the social evils. It can also be observed that these amendments and new enactments have not producing any positive outcome. Like previous amendments and enactments, Nirbhaya Act is also unable to produce desired results. Crime against women is still on increasing side. This is very well evident from recent rape cases in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh which was done in such a heinous way that even the Delhi gang rape case looks meek if compared with these recent cases. The problem lies with the implementations. There is no benefit to increasing quantum of punishment if that could not be implemented. There is a great delay. There is a delay of many years and the harassment to be suffered by the victim along with accuse during the pendency of case is even more painful. By the time matter reach Supreme Court for affirmation of lower court’s order the Victim got sufficiently harassed to lose her all hopes.

But it not just Courts to be blamed for the delay in delivery of the Justice. People are misusing the law meant for genuine victims, to pressurize the other party to make them bend for untenable demands. Section 498A is one of the laws which have been misused to the highest extent. Bengal is a lab case for Section 498A a whopping 29,800 cases were registered in the state 2013, but led to only 2.3% convictions. This has been the trend for the last few years. 498A instead of creating good for the Society is now becoming a new social evil. The Supreme Court (Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India Writ petition(C) no.141 of 2005) has itself condemned 498A as “Legal Terrorism”, though ruling 498A constitutional. Recent amendment in IPC, CrPC and the Indian Evidence Act vide the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 has make the law even more arduous. There is likelihood that employers may stop recruiting female employees in a fear that some adverse consequences may arise which could have penal consequences. This fear will arise because now under section 354 D of IPC following a woman and contact or attempt to contact without her will and monitor the use of internet, email is now an offence. Laws are being amended or enacted to provide relief/justice to the Victim but now has become a pressure tactic. When 90% of cases will be false then there are no chances that the actual victim will get relief except when she approach media.

We must have to realize that we could not use Law as a medicine to cure all social problems. Law can punish the wrong doer but it does not have any preventive remedy available to stop crime against women. Undoubtedly the Law is a pre-requisite for a civilized society but relying solely on it will not solve any purpose. There is a need to increase moral values among all generations of people. There is a great need that we shall apply in our life the principles of our custom and tradition i.e. respect for the women. Our tradition and culture is not just a mythology but a monitor by which we could create an ideal state.

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