News Analysis |
Police in eastern India have sealed a shelter for destitute women amid reports that 11 of the women are missing, police said Wednesday. Another shelter run by the same charity was closed in June after dozens of girls said they had been raped there.
Government data shows, reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 percent between 2007 and 2016, when there were four cases of rape reported every hour.
The charity’s director and nine of his employees have been arrested on rape charges.The second shelter was sealed Tuesday, said police officer Anil Kumar Singh. Both shelters – one for women, the other for girls ages 7-17 – are in the town of Muzzafarpur, some 40 miles outside of Patna, the capital of Bihar state.
Workers from the state Social Welfare Department reported the women missing Monday, Singh said.The state handed over investigation of the case Sunday to the federal government after a wave of protests and demands by the political opposition and human rights groups.
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Media reports say the charity, SevaSanklapEwamVikasSamiti, received about $150,000 per year from the state and federal governments to run shelters for women and girls.Brajesh Thakur, who has run the group since 1987, has been held since early June, when authorities raided the girls’ shelter.
The Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences found evidence of trouble during an audit of the charity earlier this year. State investigators then interviewed girls at the shelter, many of whom said they had been raped.
India has been shaken by a series of high-profile sexual assaults since 2012, when a young woman was fatally gang-raped on a moving New Delhi bus. That attack sparked protests calling for more protection for women, and harsher punishments for their attackers.
Since then, India’s Parliament has doubled prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. In April, India’s Cabinet passed an executive order making the rape of girls under 12 years old punishable by the death penalty.
The state handed over investigation of the case Sunday to the federal government after a wave of protests and demands by the political opposition and human rights groups.
But despite the increasingly stringent laws, women often remain relegated to second-class citizenship in Indian courts and police stations. Indian charities have been found complicit in the abuse of women. In April, An Indian court has found AsaramBapu, a spiritual leader who has founded hundreds of ashrams in India, guilty of raping a teenage girl and sentenced him to life in prison.
The case against him stems from 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the girl, who was then 16. He has been jailed since then, with courts refusing multiple attempts at bail.The teen’s parents had been followers of the guru; they brought her to one of his ashrams to receive spiritual instruction — but instead, he forced her into sexual acts. After the girl told her parents what had happened, they contacted authorities.
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Asaram is the second high-profile guru who has recently been felled by rape charges. Last summer, spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Sing — the “Guru of Bling” — was convicted of rape. That verdict brought violent protests from the guru’s followers in two states, Haryana and Punjab, resulting in a military curfew.
Disturbing thoughts of the so-called Holy man were presented during his trial. Asaram believed that sexual exploitation of girls is not a sin for ‘Brahmgyani’ or a highly enlightened person, a prosecution witness had deposed to the court during the trial.
India became the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour, according to a poll of global experts released on Tuesday. Government data shows, reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 percent between 2007 and 2016, when there were four cases of rape reported every hour.
Atrocities against women have been on the rise in India over the past couple decades. Sexual harassment is a daily occurrence in the lives of common women. Therefore, women empowerment is something that all Indian government’s claim they want. However, promising is one thing and fulfilling is quite another.
In September 2017, Authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has ordered an inquiry after police beat female university students protesting against an alleged sexual assault. Outrage grew after video footage of the beating at the leading Banaras Hindu University (BHU) went viral.