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The Right To Say NO: A Case Study

The recent murder of Ankita Singh in Dumka, Jharkhand when she was burnt alive after the accused allegedly put petrol on her while she was asleep in her bedroom again questions the right, dignity and safety of a women in our society.

What Actually Happened?
Ankita Singh, class 12th student from Dumka in Jharkhand, dreamed of becoming a police officer, however alleged stalker Sharukh turned her life drastically and killed her by burning her body with petroleum when rejected. This incident happened on 28th of August when Ankita lost her life to burn injuries. Ankita already lost her mother due to cancer and her family was financially unsound after that because of her mother's treatment.

Her father's income was 200 Rs a day and she made 1000 Rs from tuition. Ankita herself revealed that Sharukh was blackmailing her by saying that he would kill her if she didn't talk to him and the next day itself at night by sleeping, this horrible incident happened. Now Jharkhand CM announced 10 lakh for the victim's family and to that Ankita's father said if this money would be provided earlier, her daughter may be saved by treating her at RIMS, Ranchi.

This is just another case with new facts because we cannot forget what happened with Nikita Tomar in 2021 and there are many more cases which did not even come into the public eye and even if they do then it gets settled by providing some compensation to the family and that's it.One thing is very clear here that there is no right to say NO. If someone likes you then you have to accept him or you will be killed!

Crimes Against Women

Murders due to love affiars increased from 1443 in 2020 to 1566 in 2021 and increased by 28% from 2001 to 2017. One sided love is also one of the reasons for 13.4% of kidnapping in the year 2020. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, reported incidents of crime against women increased by 15.3% in 2021 compared to the year 2020. In 2011, there were more than 228,650 reported incidents of crime against women, while in 2021, there were 4,28,278 reported incidents, an 87% increase.

The highest crime rate is in Rajasthan followed by UP and Bihar. But there are some places where the crime rate is almost negligible like Nagaland because of education and understanding of women's rights. Crime pendency is also one of the reasons for increasing the crime rate to 95.5% in 2020 from 89.9% in 2019 according to the official data.

Needed Answers
These frequent cases raised many questions which required the attention of all concerned, especially those at the helm of affairs for justice of a woman because we witness a new horrible case every other day and easily forget and move on. For example we forget about the Nikita Singh Tomae case and its results. Likewise we also forget about The Shakti mill case, Hathras case, Hyderabad case, Jessica murder case, Nirbhaya case and many more.

As society always judges a girl for every wrong that happens with her life,like, she would do something wrong, she would attract men, or she might be wearing something weird. So, what did she do this time? Was saying NO and sleeping peacefully in her own room her fault? 'Women have been socialised into understanding that what is most important is that they be perceived as likeable and agreeable,' said Caitlyn Collins, a professor of sociology at Washington University in St Louis.

In Ankita Singh's case, when the accused was arrested and taken to the police station he was smiling in a way that he did something very big and honourable. There was no dismay or guilt on his face for what he had done. This is because he might have some assurance that he will be let out and not punished as he knows the result of trial in such cases and sometimes there was no trial at all. When will our administration consider this issue sincerely and make the law stringent enough so that anyone would think twice or thrice before committing such indignant crimes.

As "Justice delayed is Justice denied", then why is the crime rate pendency in women's cases 95.5% in 2020 which is already touching the sky and it means if we filed a case then also hearing will take prolonged time.

What does the Constitution say?

In a country like India, a woman is provided adequate rights. Our constitution provides exclusive rights to women for their dignity and protection. We have some special laws as well for effective implementation of the rights of women against abuse, harassment, violence, inequality etc. such as:
  • The Protection of Women from Domestic violence Act, 2005;
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956;
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961;
  • The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986;
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013;
  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The law (Section 354 IPC) makes it a special crime to use force against a woman, or even threaten to use force, if the intention is to 'outrage her modesty. Section 326A of IPC provides for punishment of acid attack.

All we need is to make the implementation briskly and all across the board. Let the women be aware of all their rights!

Path ahead:
The first and most effective way of crime prevention is to provide quality education. It is believed that higher levels of education will make the immediate gratification of an individual's preferences and desires through criminal activities less important. States with higher levels of educational attainment also have crime rates lower than the national average.

Secondly, The fast track courts exist only in name, often not in place or not functioning. We need resources and oversight to ensure Fast Track Courts are functioning as planned across the states and country.

Thirdly we need to change the mindset of the society for the choices of a girl. It must not question the choice. A girl should have the Right to say No to anyone and anytime she wants.

Lastly, we need to make WCD (Women and Child development) more effective. Currently, WCD has many responsibilities, and further given law and order is state subject, the gravity of the issue of crimes against women and children does not appear to be strongly addressed in our overall system.

A singular and sustained multi-year focus by Senior Government officials will enable a more streamlined and effective implementation of the process to tackle crimes against women and children.

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