Representational Image. Image Courtesy: India Today
Mumbai: Last week, a woman professor faced a brutal attack by a man in Hinganghat of Vidarbha. In the morning, around 7.30 a.m, when the woman was walking toward her college, the man poured petrol on her and tried to burn her alive. She received 40% burn injuries. This incident has shocked the conscience of the entire state. On Monday the woman lost her life. However, the incident has sparked outrage as well as a public discourse on increasing crimes against women in state.
The data, which is now in the public domain, is rather shocking. Over one lakh cases have been registered in the past six years that are directly related to violence against women. Out of these, 73,000 cases are registered against molestation of women and around 26,000 concerning rape.
Going by the data of crimes recorded in state since 2014, Maharashtra is witnessing a rape every two hours. Every day, 34 women on an average are being molested. In six years, the highest number of rape cases was recorded in 2019. The highest number of cases of molestation was in 2018. The total cases of deaths due to dowry are 1,430, with the highest number recorded in 2014. The data also suggests that almost 90% of the crimes were committed by people known to the women.
This data is not just worrying but also raises serious questions about the law and order situation in state, which needs to be addressed immediately.
The ghastly incident in Hinganghat has forced the Maharashtra government forced to hold an immediate debate on women’s safety in the upcoming budget session of the Assembly. There will be a day-long special debate in both Houses on March 5, and the government is sure to face heavy criticism.
Many women activists are demanding number of steps to curb growing attacks on women Their first demand is to immediately appoint a new chairman of the state's women’s rights commission. Also, they are demanding all rape cases be transferred to fast-track courts.
"The state government will have to show that the strict and immediate action is being taken in every case of violence against women. Not just that, an easy mechanism for making complaints needs to be put in place. Awareness programmes on the new Acts for women are also needed," said Bharati Sharma, a women activist.
Reacting to the Hinganghat incident State home minister Anil Deshmukh said that the accused would be brought to justice at the earliest.
"The state government will ensure that Hinganghat’s brave woman gets justice. We will also provide a job to one member of her family and other financial assistance," he said.