Enough with the candle marches

Only 9% of rapists in the US get prosecuted and only 3% of rapists will spend a day in prison.

I don’t go for candle marches anymore, ever since I was groped in a candle march, held to raise a voice for “Violence Against Women”,” a young girl had commented once.

Many candle marches later what has changed?

From Nirbhaya (Jyoti) to Priyanka Reddy we are still fighting not just for safety but also against social, political and legal prejudice, and this is not confined to India. A few of you might have followed the New Zealand high profile trial of the murder of Grace Millane which ended in a guilty verdict. Grace was killed by a 26 year old man in his Auckland apartment in December 2018. The case drew criticism for it’s focus on Millane’s sexual history its attempt to argue that she had consented to the violent act that caused her death.

Today, also the debate rages on that do women who smoke, drink and wear revealing clothes invite sexual assault! That such a point is open to debate inspite of the rapes by family members within the home, rape of young girls barely out of diapers and even a grandmother raped by the friend of her grandson is closing our eyes to the reality.

It is estimated that approximately 35% of women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. In the majority of countries that have data available on rape report that less than 40% of women who experience sexual violence seek help. Less than 10% seek help from law enforcement.

The United States has a rape rate of 27.3. As in many other countries, rape is grossly under reported in the United States due to victim shaming, fear of reprisal, fear of family knowing, cases not being taken seriously by law enforcement, and possible lack of prosecution for the perpetrator. Only 9% of rapists in the US get prosecuted and only 3% of rapists will spend a day in prison. 97% of rapists in the United States will walk free.

The data from one of most ‘sought after and advanced country- USA’, is cited here just to make a point that how far the other nations, especially a developing country like India has to walk till ‘women safety’ is no longer a TV debate and Editorial issue.

Legislation is not enough, it has to be strictly implemented firstly and countries with high rape statistics need to look beyond just legislation to fix the problem. These countries need to look at the deep, systematic dysfunction of their cultures and social norms that have not prevented and do not prevent sexual violence.

Till then… we can carry on with the candle marches…