Progress in education but crimes against women high: Justice R Banumathi

Crimes against women are on the rise and respect for them on the decline despite the progress made by them in education.

PTI| Updated: May 05, 2017, 21:20 PM IST

New Delhi: Crimes against women are on the rise and respect for them on the decline despite the progress made by them in education, Supreme Court's lone woman judge, Justice R Banumathi observed on Friday.

Expressing hope that the December 16, 2012 gangrape case will be an eye-opener to end this violence, the judge said the offences against women was not a women's issue alone but that of human rights issue and the people, especially men, needed to be sensitised on gender justice.

She made the observations while referring to the statistics of National Crime Records Bureau showing an increase of over 43 per cent in crimes against women from 2011 to 2015 and 105 per cent over the past decade (2005 to 2015).

"The statistics of National Crime Records Bureau which I have referred, show that despite the progress made by women in education and in various fields and changes brought in ideas of women's rights, respect for women is on the decline and crimes against women are on the increase.

"Offences against women are not a women's issue alone but human rights issue. Increased rate of crime against women is an area of concern for the law-makers and it points out an emergent need to study in depth the root of the problem and remedy the same through a strict law and order regime," Justice Banumathi said.

She said there are a number of legislations and numerous penal provisions to punish the offenders of violence against women, but it becomes important to ensure that gender justice does not remain only on paper.

The judge noted that as per the annual report of NCRB titled, 'Crime in India 2015', a total of 3,27,394 cases of crime against women were reported in 2015, showing an increase of over 43 per cent in crime against women since 2011, when 2,28,650 cases were reported.

The judge also said in her separate but concurring judgement that she hoped that "this gruesome incident in the capital and death of this young woman will be an eye-opener for a mass movement 'to end violence against women' and 'respect for women and her dignity' and sensitise public at large on gender justice."

Justice Banumathi, who was a part of a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, said in a civilised society, law and order is supreme and the citizens enjoy inviolable fundamental human rights. But when such an incident surfaces, it causes ripples in the conscience of society.

"Serious doubts are raised as to whether we really live in a civilised society and whether both men and women feel the same sense of liberty and freedom which they should have felt in the ordinary course of a civilised society, driven by rule of law.

"Certainly, whenever such grave violations of human dignity come to fore, an unknown sense of insecurity and helplessness grabs the entire society, women in particular, and the only succour people look for, is the state to take command of the situation and remedy it effectively," she said.

The judge observed that crime against women not only affects a woman's self-esteem but also degrades the pace of societal development.

She quoted Swami Vivekananda to say that "the best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women" and added "we have a responsibility to set good values and guidance for posterity."

The judge said the battle for gender justice can be won only with strict implementation of legislative provisions, sensitisation of public, taking other pro-active steps at all levels for combating violence against women and ensuring widespread attitudinal changes and comprehensive change in the existing mind set.

"We hope that this incident will pave the way for the same," she said.

The judge also stressed on the need for a change in the attitude and mindset to protect women and ensure gender justice.

"Stringent legislation and punishments alone may not be sufficient for fighting increasing crimes against women. In our tradition-bound society, certain attitudinal change and change in the mind-set is needed to respect women and to ensure gender justice," she said.

The judge said that right from childhood, people should be sensitised to respect women.

"A child should be taught to respect women in the society in the same way as he is taught to respect men. Gender equality should be made a part of the school curriculum. The school teachers and parents should be trained, not only to conduct regular personality building and skill enhancing exercise, but also to keep a watch on the actual behavioural pattern of the children so as to make them gender sensitised," she said.