India@75, Looking at 100: From Mathura to Manipur: The journey for gender justice

Source: The post is based on the article “India@75, Looking at 100: From Mathura to Manipur: The journey for gender justice” published in “The Indian express” on 4th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS1- social issues

News: The author discusses the increasing violence against women in India. Despite reforms, incidents like rapes continue to rise. Key cases like the Mathura rape and Delhi gang rape shaped legal changes. However, current events, like conflicts in Manipur, show persisting challenges. The article questions India’s progress on gender justice as it nears 100 years of independence.

About Current State of Gender Justice in India

Gender justice in India faces serious challenges due to high violence rates against women.

In 2021, India saw 31,677 registered rape cases, showing an increase from 2020.

Despite laws like the 2012 POCSO Act, these incidents continue, including 10% involving minors.

Important cases like Mathura, Delhi, and Hathras have led to law reforms.

However, gender-based violence persists during conflicts, like in Manipur.

As India approaches 100 years of nationhood, it’s crucial to address these systemic issues.

How have rape laws evolved?

Start of Movement: The Mathura rape case in 1979 ignited the campaign against rape.

1983 Amendment: After the case, rape laws saw the first amendment. Minimum seven years for general rapes and ten years for aggravated ones were set.

Vishaka Guidelines: Introduced in 1997, these led to the 2013 act against workplace sexual harassment.

2012 Change: POCSO Act introduced, addressing sexual crimes against children under 18. It expanded the definition of sexual assault.

Post Delhi Gang Rape: After the 2012 incident, the rape law further evolved, including wider definitions from POCSO into the section 376 of the IPC.

2019 Update: Kathua case’s aftermath led to death penalties for rape of minor girls under 12.

Caste-based Atrocities: Cases like Hathras underline the need for laws recognizing caste-related sexual violence.

What notable cases marked the campaign?

Mathura Case (1979): A tribal girl raped by policemen, leading to a Supreme Court judgment.

Rameeza Bi & Maya Tyagi: Husbands killed by police; both women raped.

Suman Rani (1989): Sentence reduced due to the victim’s “character and conduct”.

Bhanwari Devi (1992): Acquitted due to caste beliefs; sparked workplace harassment guidelines.

Khairlanji Massacre (2006): Dalit family targeted; mother and daughter gang-raped.

Kathua Case (2018): Muslim girl raped and murdered; led to death penalty for rape of minors under 12.

Hathras Case (2020): Dalit woman raped by upper-caste men; delayed medical care and controversial cremation.

Manipur Conflict: Ethnic conflict saw increased sexual assaults, compelling national attention.

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