India: Her women Vs her tigers

[It is said that once you have something to say, you cannot ever hide it within yourself. I think it might be true.This write up has been sitting among other unsaid stories for a long time.
To clarify, I am not a feminist and please do not get me wrong, I am all for the conservation of tigers. Having said that I would like to point out that to me a human life comes before all else.]
On July 9th 2012, a young girl was publicly abused on the streets of Guwahati in North East India by a group of about 20 men. A media personal happened to be there with his camera. He did not attempt to save her or call for help. On the contrary he filmed the scene while the men molested the girl. “She was drunk” was his way of defending his action or rather lack thereof.
The police did get there, eventually. They took the girl away for questioning, leaving the perpetrators behind to relive their  act through the footage which was aired time and again by the  local news channel the cameraman represented.A few days later the footage was picked by a national television network. The outrage it provoked forced the Guwahati policemen to break out of their inertia and round up possible suspects.Around the same time as the assault on the girl’s life the Supreme court of India passed a law banning tourism to the core tiger reserve area in India over growing concern in the decline in the number of tigers. The latest census by WWF estimated that there are 1411 tigers left in India. “Whatever statistics may say, fact remains that the tiger  population in the country has practically diminished” stated the Supreme Court bench.
This was met with praise.  Environmentalist applauded the supreme court’s decision.A great victory for the tigers of India.The state ministries were quick to communicate and execute the order.
Thanks to this  the tigers of India will be free to roam their natural habitat, prey upon weaker animals, live a carefree life while the forest personnel keep a close watch on them. Indeed a great victory for the Indian tigers.The standard of living for a tiger in India looks promising. But what about India’s women?A  group of gender experts rated India as  the worst (G20)country to be a woman. Saudi Arabia was ranked higher.
The  survey by the National Census board (2011) it was estimated that there were only 842 women for every 1000 men in India. A sharp decline from the 932 estimated in the 2001 Census. Yet no law makers are clamouring to pass laws to arrest this decline.  They are not even talking about amending the current laws which largely favours the abuser.

Women in India are plagued by a multitude of social issues. It starts right from conception. The preference for sons has fueled the exponential growth of illegal abortion clinics that have mushroomed around the country.  Those poor souls lucky enough to survive the foeticide then have an array of depravities to choose from; abuse, rape, harassment, murder.

Most of the cases of crimes against women go unreported due to the social stigma that is associated with the crime. Only a fraction of it are reported. Of that fraction a portion of it run as  headlines of rape, murder,torture and other insensitive acts almost on a weekly basis.

Why is that the tigers in India get preferential treatment when the women  cannot travel by public transportation without fear of being groped, or preyed upon by indecent men? Why is that when forest personnel can keep vigil for the tigers, the policemen of the NCR( National Capital region) issues a statement blatantly stating that they will protect the women up to 8 pm and after that they step out at their own risk?

A general offence against the tigers under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, attracts a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment or a fine of up to  to Rs. 25,000 or both.  While in the largest democracy in the world, a lone girl had to wait for a couple of days for the wheels of  justice to be set in motion ,when it had taken less than an hour to irrevocably damage her life.If charged her perpetrators will serve up to a year in prison or pay a fine, maybe both.In the eyes of the Indian law the crime of the perpetrators is merely ‘insulting or outraging the modesty of a woman”.
The sad part is, the fine they may pay will be less than the Rs. 50,000 ( Approx $890) that has been promised her in compensation for the ‘misfortune’.

Is the comfort of a tiger worth more in the eyes of the law than that of the life of woman?


5 thoughts on “India: Her women Vs her tigers

  1. If feminism means according women the same status and the same rights as men enjoy, then I am happy to describe myself as a feminist. The situation in India you describe is not unknown to me, and I agree it is appalling.

    I don’t know, though, that I would see this issue as one of protecting women *or* of protecting tigers, since neither impinges on the other. But the crimes and atrocities committed against women, and the general lack of oitrage or even concern about this, are, I agree, shameful.


  2. Himadri,

    Thanks for your thoughts. The reason I compare both is the lack of funding and awareness in one case ( read women’s rights). I do agree that neither impinges on the other in reality but when it comes to awareness and funding the tiger gets the lion’s share ( pun unintentional!).


  3. Pingback: ‘How sad, many girls missing from our country are found buried in some graveyard…. – articles4friends

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