22,172 rape cases in India in 2010.
The same year there were 40,613 cases of molestation, 9,961 cases of sexual harassment and 29,795 cases of kidnapping and abduction of women. (Source – http://tinyurl.com/cwbwyk5)
With figures like these (and these are just cases reported to police. The true figure will be much higher) it is no wonder that India has been judged the 4th most dangerous country for women in a Reuters poll – http://tinyurl.com/clv4cp8
Sadly, women can expect little help or support from the police who are often slow to respond, don’t take the matter seriously, or worse are perpetrators themselves (It speaks volumes that the police chief in Uttar Pradesh advises women not to attend a police station on their own!)
So what can be done to make Women safer? Only a few days ago Raksha Bandhan was celebrated in India, when sisters tie a rakhi on their brother’s wrist to symbolize her love and prayers for his well-being, and his lifelong vow to protect her. Yet these same men see no contradiction in vowing to protect their sisters and sexually assaulting another man’s sister. Clearly, there needs to be a fundamental change in male attitudes towards women, and that is not going to be an easy or quick process. There also needs to be greater protection of women by the police. They need to intervene quickly to prevent/stop assaults on women and prosecute vigorously the men responsible.
Women, themselves, can take some steps to minimise the risk of being attacked – avoid certain high risk areas, travel with a friend wherever possible, make sure someone knows where they are and their plans, always have their cell phone with them, perhaps even learn some self-defence techniques ?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice my scissor kick !