Crime against women is increasing in the state, Manipur State Commission for Women (MSCW) chairperson Salam Ulka Devi said recently. Over the last decade, Manipur has been witnessing increase in the number of cases related to crime against women and girl child. More and more women are facing all forms of atrocities and domestic violence in the state.
In a recent incident, a 21-year-old woman was assaulted with cable wire and her hair chopped off by a mob led by her husband, alleging her of having an illicit relationship with another man. The incident took place at Sora Makha Leikai, Kakching district.
According to the Kakching police station, on July 12, at around 10 pm the husband of the woman pulled her out from her bed one night and thrashed her, accusing her of having an illicit affair with his friend. The man called all his relatives and neighbours and organised a mob action against his wife. Using sticks and telephone cable wire, she was brutally beaten up in the mob violence.
They also chopped off her hair and the woman was tortured with her legs and hands tied with ropes till about 1.30 pm the next day, July 13. The Kakching police team came and rescued her after the woman's parents informed the OC, Kakching Police Station.
The police registered FIR under section 325/342/354/506/34 IPC punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt, wrongful confinement, assault, criminal intimidation, common intention against her husband Md Sajid of Sora Makha Leikai, Kakching district and nine of his associates.
Following the incident, the victim's family approached the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on August 2 for necessary action. The MHRC has called for further investigation in the reported assault of the young wife.
While investigation is underway and the accused are yet to be arrested, the Women Action for Development (WAD) team visited the victim at her residence.
WAD secretary Mangsatabam Sobita said section 498A, which officially made domestic violence a criminal offence, was added to the IPC in 1983. The section of the law specifically covers cruelty towards married women by their husbands or by their families.
The state government should give attention to women issue, particularly in domestic violence cases, as it is increasing in the state, Sobita said. She also pointed out the need of a practical solution to handle crime against women and a change or improvement in the justice delivery system, active participation of the victims, a need for proper forensic science laboratory and DNA testing machine in the state.
During a recent programme on women and child abuse entitled - Questioning the Future of Manipur - organised by WAD, a woman revealed how her two daughters were sexually assaulted by her husband's friend and said that it drove one of them to commit suicide. The sexual assault case is registered under POCSO Act.
On 25 August, the Nongchup Imphal Palem Ima Apunba Lup (NIMPAL) demanded capital punishment to the father who allegedly raped her own minor daughter in Thoubal district. After the alleged rape, the victim consumed poison and succumbed to it.
NIMPAL secretary S Shanti Leima said when such hideous crimes are happening in the state, every mother feels unsafe in leaving their daughters alone even in their own houses.
In view of the increasing cases of violence against women and children, several people, including women, men, senior citizens, students and all stakeholders took out a rally against such crimes in Thoubal district on August 19. The rally, organized by Women in Governance Thoubal, was held under the theme ‘Ensure protection of women and children's peace and security.’
According to Manipur woman’s rights activist Nonibala Narengbam, in every one hour, three women are raped in India. Today, women and children have become more insecure in private spaces. They become more vulnerable with their near and dear ones, she added.
“Today, our own relatives, near and dear ones are becoming the perpetrators. The fabric of family is breaking; dominance, resistance, and others have become part of our everyday life,” she said.
Children raised in families where a woman is abused also tend to become victims of violence, sometimes not physically, but always psychologically, she said.
Children who witnessed violence in the family started to justify or normalise violence. Children who grew up in such a context and culture started to have negative behaviour and attitude towards the society. Growth for self-development and ability to function in society becomes difficult, she said.
Manipuri women are glorified for their contributions in various sections, but many of them still remain victims of different forms of violence, Nonibala said.
As per National Family Health Survey 2019-20, women of Manipur remain the highest receiver of violence, she said, adding gender-based violence is under-reported and there is often impunity for perpetrators.
“Most of us believe that what happens at home should stay at home or that it is nobody's business what happens in the family. It is a family problem or community issue, however unreported and unaddressed, gender based violence affects individuals, family, community and society at large," she said.
Today, she said, in Thoubal district alone, there are 55 numbers of registered POCSO cases. Their near and dear ones and people whom they know are the perpetrators, she maintained.
Society still continues to blame the victims; give sexist remarks, and ultimately comes back to square one, she further said, adding the accused are set free because of many reasons.
Despite having enough laws and acts in the county, the majority of the victims are scared of reporting because of the apprehension whether they will get justice or not. Mothers are not unable to get custody for their own children while women and girls are becoming victims of cyber crime, she lamented.
As several cases of domestic violence and gender biased go unreported even as increasing number of cases are reported and justice is awaited, Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights secretary T Shadishkanta opined that all citizens should have basic legal knowledge to prevent crime against women and bring speedy justice.
Citing “excessive degrading of moral values” as one of the undeniable factors for the increasing crime against women and girl child, the MSCW chairperson stressed that creating awareness on women issues and rights alone cannot help address all such instances, she said there is a need to focus on preservation and promotion of the rich culture of the state embedded with rich moral values and behaviour.
India recorded 3,78,236 cases of crimes against women in 2018, as per the National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB) data. A majority of these cases were registered under ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (30.9%), Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
More recent data from India proposes that 40 per cent of women suffer abuse from their partners.