(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
One year ago, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered. Her story showed the world that women across India are viewed as dispensable, undeserving of full human rights.
One year later, what has changed?
It is heartening that the case of Nirbhaya, as she is known, led to the setting up of the Justice Verma commission that recommended strengthening outdated laws to protect women and their rights. Although change has been slow, more cases of sexual violence are being reported rather than silenced, scuttled or quietly settled. However, crime statistics and prosecution rates show that most of these crimes go unnoticed, unreported and absorbed into the culture of “that’s the way things are."
Looking through the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2012, it is evident that the number of complaints registered with the police, the first information reports on rape, has risen by nearly 3 percent. The number of cases that were charge-sheeted -- documented as a crime -- was 95 percent. But fewer than 15 percent of rape cases came to trial in 2012.
Violence against women remains the most widespread and tolerated human rights abuse. Catcalling, taunting and grabbing women in public arise from, and perpetuate, notions of masculinity that define “real” men through power and dominance. "Minor" assaults and inequities are part of the continuum that includes rape, domestic abuse and attacks on women and girls.
This culture is enabled by men who tacitly condone it by not challenging it. That’s why to end violence against women, and change the culture, men must stand alongside us.