For anyone who maintains that women are raped because of the way they dress or the way they look, the image of two thin and scrawny teenagers hanging from a mango tree, gang raped and murdered by their neighbours in Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, provided a powerful lesson. It was a poignant reminder that, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, incidents of rape in India have gone up tenfold in the last 40 years.
From 1971 to 2012 recorded cases shot up from just under 2,500 to almost 25,000, and activists believe only 10% of cases are actually reported to the police. This rising trend of sexual violence needs to be better understood. And today it was reported that a judge in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, was the victim of an attempted rape in her well-protected home.
The enormous spike in rape incidents has been ascribed, in urban areas, to women joining the workforce and facing aggressive male resistance; and in rural areas to the all-pervasive caste system, as in this case, where the girls belonged to a lower caste than the rapists. But the underlying problems go far wider, and point to a deeper crisis, which India must urgently address.
Uttar Pradesh, where these latest horrific attacks took place, is one of the poorest states in India, with more than 60 million people living on less than a pound a day. At the same time, India is grappling with a lost generation of those who were born after economic liberalisation but are ill-educated, unemployed – and, mostly, male. According to the International Labour Organisation, India saw a growth in joblessness between 2004 and 2009…
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