The issue of increasing crimes against women in Manipur is a perplexing problem that needs prompt attention. From ages we have preserved a tradition of according equal status to our womenfolk, and this in fact is a salient feature that distinguished us from other parts of India where denial of autonomy to girls and women are pronounced. Here, girls are reared as important members of the family and their independence encouraged. Our women are equal partners in running their families and in social engagement. Even at the times of battles and important agitations, our women have been at the forefront. So, in what context should we look at the unabated rise in violence against women and what reasons do we fix for them becoming easy targets for molestation, rapes and trafficking? Does the present society have double-standard views and hold opposing opinions during promotion of women and their actual treatment or is the escalation in figures of victim women a product of greater reporting of crimes in general?
Women are less capable of defending themselves, compared to their male counterparts. Sit-in-protest and other forms of agitations against such crimes are important ways for highlighting the issues. But, our primary objective should be the identification of the reasons which have contributed largely to the spread of the menace of crimes against women. Social changes are unavoidable. There has been an influx of western culture and lifestyle which promoted explicit expression of affection, violence, vulgarity and individualist pursuits. No doubt, they have contributed in the escalation of crimes in general. However, the core point is the contribution of local issues. Have our outlook on the position of women undergone a major change? Is the growth in crime against women a clear indication of a gradual decline in respect, social importance of women and change in perception of what roles they should be occupying in our society? Is the rise in crime connected to rampant immorality affecting both men and women, arising from factors that were previously non-existent like the impact of alien cultures and social consternation from factors like armed conflict, unemployment, spiralling cost of living and change in social norms?
For instance, a prominent public figure of the state while participating at a discussion on AFSPA some weeks back connected the dots linking the mental agony from uninterrupted violence in the region to the scaling up of domestic violence. Despite the insightful reasoning offered by him, we have to depend on scientific proof drawn from clinical studies for drawing a clinching conclusion. With some confidence, we can make a presumption that though the methods employed will be dissimilar the conclusion will converge. It is high time that the concerned citizens sought support from experts for explanation to throw lights on the psychological aspects on the rise in crime, particularly domestic violence and sexual attack on women and child. For example, psychological studies claimed that individuals who had failed to show their power and ability in their peer group chose vulnerable women and children to become the victim of their aggression. We need deeper studies on the psychological fallout of social and political turmoil and its effect on the rise in crime against women.
At the same time, we need to ensure fundamental changes in the legal system and functioning of the law enforcement agencies in dealing with perpetrators who unleash cruelty against women and children. Employing all possible methods within our reach, the factors responsible for the increase in crimes against women and child and formulation of actions plans to curb such crimes should be prioritised. It is time to wage a ‘moral war’ on crimes against women and children.