CHANDIGARH: The year 2008 turned out to be an unhappy one for women in Punjab and Haryana. Data provided by the Women’s Commission of Punjab and Haryana, updated till November 2008, indicates a steep rise in crimes against women. According to the data, on an average, two women in Haryana and one in Punjab were criminally assaulted each day.
In Punjab, at least two cases of kidnapping and one of molestation were reported daily. Worse still is the fact that at least 12 women committed suicide every month and as many were killed for dowry. Till November end, 140 women were murdered, 411 raped, 350 molested and over 600 kidnapped.
The districts of Jalandhar and Ludhiana reported the highest number of kidnapping cases, accounting for over 70 per cent those that occurred in the State. 60 rape cases were registered in Ludhiana alone. Dowry deaths also showed an upward trend. In Punjab, more than 70 per cent of these were registered in Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Bathinda and Jalandhar.
“Fuelled by greed”
According to the Punjab Commission for Women chairperson Gurdev Kaur Sangha, “Domestic violence and dowry are usually fuelled by greed, which is a direct result of the commercialisation of weddings in this region. Earlier the weddings were simpler but today each one tries to outdo the other in the ostentatious display of wealth. People who cannot afford such large-scale functions end up cursing themselves for having a daughter and this mind-set leads to female foeticide.”
In Haryana, a disturbing trend is a 25 per cent increase in the number of rape cases since 2008. Compared to 471 cases in 2007, more than 600 women had lodged rape complaints, including six against police officers, by 2008 November-end. Four women, on different occasions, tried to commit suicide outside the Panchkula police headquarters protesting against police inaction.
“The police are hardly protecting women. Ladies who go to police stations at night often complain of misbehaviour and the charges of rape and molestation against police officers are a proof of this,” said Ms. Sangha.
Faridabad and Gurgaon, districts neighbouring the National Capital, together registered 179 rape cases. Rohtak comes a close second, with 150 cases. Haryana Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) V. N. Rai attributes the crime against women to “backwardness of society”. “Parents don’t want any societal backlash. Our law is progressive but the society is yet to catch up with it,” he said.
Sociologists claim that the numbers cannot be taken as a true reflection of the state of women as many avoid lodging a complaint. The shameful trend of increasing crimes against women is aptly reflected by the poor sex ratio in the region.
The Capital of the two States, Chandigarh, has one of the worst sex ratios in the country: 777 females for every 1,000 males. It dips further if the ratio in the slums, 926 females per 1,000 males, is excluded. The city’s urban sex ratio then stands at 500 females per 1,000 males. Despite the fact that the city ranks high in the literacy list and has the highest per capita income in the country, the region as a whole has failed miserably in ensuring safety and dignity of women.
published on 08/01/2009