The blood-curdling instance of gang-rape and charring to death of a young government veterinary doctor on her way out from duty along the national highway near Shamshabad in Telangana shows yet again the massive failure of the state in providing a safe environment for the women going about their daily routine of a normal, respectable life. The national outpouring of grief, outrage and protests over the chilling Nirbhaya case of 2012 led to stricter laws and more stringent punishment for such heinous crimes as well as funds to ensure a more efficient system of law enforcement. But, the police are still caught napping with alarming regularity as brutal rape-murders take on epidemic proportions, occurring all over the country — Shakti Mills (Mumbai), Badaun (UP), Uber (Delhi), Kathua (J&K), to name a few.
The law enforcement ecosystem — right from the constable to the top cop — is as culpable of the crime as the perpetrators if it is unable to ensure security in its area of jurisdiction. However, even as laxity on the cops’ part is exposed time and again, it rarely leads to punitive action. Hardly anybody is held accountable for the rising crime graph. The protracted litigation further lends an air of impunity to the criminals, dealing a frustrating blow to the concept of justice having seen to have been delivered too. Political leaders have little to offer except ‘sympathy’ or a promise of fast-track courts to curb crime by instilling the fear of consequences of the heinous acts every time a gruesome case comes to the fore. But each time, they too fail the ordinary girl as there is no let-up in violence against her.
India will continue to be dangerous for women and no list of to-dos handed out to them, both when at home or venturing out, can cover fully the hazards they encounter every day. Quick action against the rapist as well as the authorities who fail to act in time can impact the culture of impunity and push back the crime rate. Unless society is rid of the toxic masculinity and dominant patriarchy, it will be at a perilous disadvantage.