How Politics and Economy Effects Crime against Women in India

Farida Naz
11 December 2013

The sociologists Joan Ferrante and M. Henslin in their books Sociology A Global Perspective and Sociology A Down to Earth Approach respectively define social deviance according to different sociological perspectives. Generally, social deviance is defined as the violation of the expected norms in certain society. Moreover, social deviant varies from one society to other or even from one group to another group within a same society, and all groups developed system of social control to discourage social deviance (Ferrante, 362). Further, conformity comprises behaviors that follow and maintain the standards of a group (Henslin et al, 178). Ferrante and Henslin discuss sociological concepts and theories related deviance to demonstrate how deviance happens in different societies. Sociologists study deviance in context of larger society, whereas, biologists and psychologists look for the reasons of deviance within the individual, such as “genetic predispositions or personality disorders” (Henslin et al, 380) to explain why people deviate in different context.
Various sociological theories define deviance according to their own understandings. For example, functionalist claims that deviance in a society is inevitable because always and everywhere there will be some behaviors which will cause offense to collective sentiments (Ferrante, 177). Further, labeling theorists says that, an act is deviant when people notice it and take action to label it and if they apply appropriate sanctions, then that act will be considered as deviance (Ferrante, 178). The symbolic interactionists have developed several theories to explain social deviance and they believe that the law enforcement institutes should work with large measure of carefulness during interrogation. Whereas, conflict theorists claims that the legal system is controlled by the capitalist class and the law makers always care about their own welfare (Henslin et al, 380). Moreover, feminist perspective highlights that men assault women to have power in society (Henslin et al, 380). Finally, some people believe that criminal behavior is also learned and others claim that social deviance represents mental illnesses (Ferrante, 178). Now, after having the brief understanding of sociological perspectives about crime in any society, this paper will explore violence against women in India with special emphases on rape, dowry and domestic violence in Indian society. Moreover, this paper will highlight the effects of politics, economy and other social factors in shaping violence against women in India.
India is the second most populous country in the world and its population is 1.2 billion (Census, 2011). Today, International image of India is tied to its rising economy and its stable political system because India is the 5th largest economy and it is the 17th largest democracy of the world (Ferrante, 274). The rank of India in per capita is 163rd in the world and the crime rank of India is 10th in the world in 2011. In addition to this, in 2011 India was ranked as the 4th most dangerous country for women in the world (John et al). Further, the women rights activist Rita Banerjee says that, within a span of three generations, “50 million women of India were targeted and murdered by different acts of violence” (John et al). Due to different socio-political, socio-economical, and other social factors, most of the time, women of India are threatened and ignored by the society. Moreover, the difference between female to male ratio in India is relatively high. According to the census of 2011 there are 940 women for every 1000 men in India (Census, 2011). Further, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, registered rape cases in India have increased by almost 900 percent over the past 40 years and most of the rape cases in rural areas are underreported. Number of women trafficking is also a major problem in India and in 2010 the report published by the Asia Foundation states that, most of the times 90 percent of women trafficking in India occur within the borders of the country (John et al). Moreover, India’s National Commission for Women claims that, 88.9 percent of honor killings are committed by the family members of the victim because of the cultural imposed obligation on women to keep her family’s honor (John et al). Furthermore, in India dowry has a significant role in women’s life which also leads towards many problems for the women. One of the studies about Femicide (the murder of women because they are women) shows that, each day 22 women were murdered in dowry related cases in 2007. In addition to this in India 24,456 child marriages were happened in 2012 and figures for kidnapping and abduction show that 81.2 percent women were kidnap during 2012 (John et al ). The statistics shows that, the number of female children in India is “diminishing, due to sex discrimination and sex determination” (Ghosh). Further, the article says that, estimated 700,000 girls are killed in India each year and almost 7 million girls have been killed in the last decade which is the worst example of feticide in history (Ghosh). Consequently, we can say that violence against women in India is so prolific and it is a matter of a considerable debate. The main issues regarding violence against women are rape, dowry, child marriage, female infanticide and sex selective abortion, and domestic violence.
Truly, any kind of violence against women is shameful act and matter of sadness. Rape is one of the worst kinds of violence against women in today’s world and unfortunately India is 3rd largest country with considerable among of rape cases in the world. Moreover, rape is the fastest growing crime in India. According to National Crime Records Bureau, rape has increased by 902 percent over 1971 to 2012 and the number of rape reported has also risen (NCRB). Further, NCRB claims that, nearly one in three rape victims in India are under the age of 18 and one in ten are under the age of 14. Furthermore, in India, a woman is raped in every 20 minutes despite most of the rape cases and sexual harassment cases are dramatically underreported (Kohn). In fact, the statistics of rape cases is striking in India. Now, the main concern is that why such a dramatic number of rape cases are happening in India and what may be the political, economical and other social factors cause such a huge number of rape cases in India.
Firstly, according to the criminal law of India, if a person has committed two crimes at a time then FIR will be recorded according to the most severe one. Due to which an incident of rape and murder is recorded as murder, because murder is more severe offense in Indian law criminal than rape. As a result, even the worst incident of Delhi gang-rape; which shook the whole India and even many nations of the world is not part of rape statistics of year 2012. (John et al). The problem is that incident of rape and murder is only considered as murder which is one of the weakest points in the criminal law of India. Thus, we can infer that even in criminal law of India, rape is considered lesser offensive, which may be one reason for the high rate of rapes in India. Further, in criminal law of India the offenders above 18 years are considered as culprits and there isn’t a law for the offenders below 18. The study shows, there are a considerable number of rapists between 16-18 years (John et al). Though after the trial in 2012 criminal law of India has amended few laws and now offenders above 17 years are also consider as culprits. Still, many criminals below the age of 17 year are not affected by criminal laws of India (John et al). This may also cause high rape rates in India.
Secondly, India is one of the fast growing economies of the world, but still its per capita income is very low which shows high rate of poverty in Indian society. It may leads to many socio-economic problems, such as, rape. According to the author and activist Arundhati Roy, violence against women and particularly rape is a means of “asserting power on women,” Roy claims that, previously, “the rich did what they did with a fair amount of discretion” (Roy) and today, women is suffering due to various socio-economic reasons (Roy). Further, the article from The Hindu newspaper discuss that, the growing economy of India is producing, “a mass of young, prospect-less men, under enormous pressure to achieve success, but finding fewer opportunities to do so” (John et al ). As a result, strain causes in people which leads towards social evils like rape. Thirdly, socio-cultural factors also play very important role in violence against women and especially in rape cases. As India is Hindu majority country and caste system is highly practice by Hindus. Most of the time people from higher caste commit crimes against lower caste people without any serious notice. Especially, in rural areas many crimes including rape are frequently practice by higher caste groups against lower caste groups. In addition to this, in villages and in tribal areas, honor, family wars, and repressive attitudes attributes in rape cases (John et al). Finally, India is male dominant society which may also reinforces crime against women, such as, rape.
Dowry is also a huge problem in Indian society and thousands of women are suffering due to dowry related case. Generally, dowry is defined as the gift given to the bride in time of her marriage by her parents as a symbol of love and care (Priyanka). Today, the economic importance of dowry is that, for most Indian parents dowry is “the single largest expense of their lives” (Priyanka). Dowry was once a symbol of love to their daughters, but now it is a harbinger of death for many Indian women and a great challenge for the lower and middle class people. Further, dowry is one of the main reasons behind female infanticide and sex selective abortion in India. Moreover, thousands of women are facing domestic problems and even killed by their husband and his family because of dowry. A study shows that, in India, “22 women were killed each day in dowry related murders in 2007” (John et al). In addition to this, the statistics for crimes against women related to dowry cases is higher in South India. According to census of 2011 female to male ratio in South India is 897 to 1000 respectively. The correlation to higher dowry related cases and lower female to male ratio indicates that dowry may be one reason for high rates of female infanticide and sex selective abortion in South India. The socio-economical factors of dowry are considerable in India. For example, before the birthday of a female child parents start savings for dowry. Furthermore, thousands of parents are not able to marry their daughters due to limited income. On the other hand, for boys’ Families dowry is a wonderful opportunity to earn a large amount of asset.
The importance of dowry is increasing day by day due to many reasons. One reason of high demand for dowry is limited economic opportunities and high rate of unemployment among new generation. Many people are waiting for the day to get remarkable amount of dowry to overcome their economical problems. The political importance of dowry is rooted back to the history. For instance, in different parts of the world the tradition of dowry was extinct due to industrialization and modernization, but we can observe contrary results in India. In India industrialization was started with colonization and British rule reinforce the idea of dowry in India while exchanging expensive dowry gifts. Consequently, with modernization the tradition of dowry was encouraged by Indian society (Sirvastava). Today, the tradition of dowry is highly internalized by society. Even after forty years of passing law against dowry people are frequently practicing this tradition (Sirvastava). Now, it needs a considerable span of time to eradicate the imbedded tradition of dowry from Indian society which causes many problems for women. For instance, it assimilated thousands of women each year, causes gender stratification, infanticide, low status of women and even mostly daughters are considered curse for family because of dowry in Indian society.
Like many other societies, mostly domestic violence in India effects women. According to the minister in charge of Child Development and Women, Chowdhury Renuka, 70 percent of Indian women experience domestic violence in some way or other. She further says that, every 10 minutes a women undergoes cruelty either from husband or relatives (John et al). Domestic violence against women can be categorized as physical violence, emotional abuse, and sexual assault. A report shows that 20 to 60 percent of female injuries caused by physical violence in India (Priyanka). Though sometimes physical violence can’t be very brutal still it causes many problems in family and in relationship. Second major issue of domestic violence against women is sexual assault. Sexual violence against women can be done by different people, such as, male friends, coworkers, intimate partner, etc. Sexual assault may include “unwanted touch, fondling, kissing, rape, coerced sex and marital rape” (Priyanka). The third type of domestic violence against women is emotional abuse, which mostly done by spouses. This kind of domestic violence leads towards very dangerous consequences. For example, mental diseases, psychological disorders in women and even in their children and it may also weaken the relationship. The socio-economic reason behind domestic violence against women in India is may cause by poverty. Poverty causes frustration and disappointments which lead to violent acts and most of the time family members and spouses are target of such violence. Further, Most of the time politics and the law enforcement institutions are dominated by men, as a result, women are oppressed and they feel hesitation to ask for justice. Further, due to the male dominant society most people believe that man has right to beat his wife. In fact, a survey by UNICEF in 2012 shows that, 53 percent girls and 57 percent boys across India believe that man can beat his wife and it is just (John et al). Consequently, domestic violence against women is caused by many reasons, among them the stereotypical thought of man as the head of a family is the major cause for domestic violence against women in India.
In fact, a woman in Indian society is at a higher risk of violence and being a young girl in India, sometimes, I also feel unsecure. As different kinds of violence against women are happening in our country, as a result, news about violence against women are on different news channel and in newspapers terrifies everyone including me. The incident of Delhi gang rape inflicted fear in my parents. After the incident even I am not allowed to go with my friends to watch movies on weekends. Further, due to male dominant society I can’t take my personal decisions. I am supposed to ask from my father or even from my bothers before doing anything. Sometimes, my parents imposed their own wishes on me, such as, I was eager to join Indian Women Police Department, but my father was not happy with my decision therefore, I took admission in Asian University for Women. Like me many other women in India aren’t allow to join the law enforcement institutions, due to which female representation in politics and in law making institutes is quite low. As a result, most of the time women are unaware of politics and laws of country and usually they believe on traditional stereotypes. For example, I usually ask my mother to do things according to her own wish, but she refuses to do so and she also discourages me to practice things according to my own wish. She believes that, a man is the head of the family and he has right to take decisions for family. Moreover, he has right to beat his wife if she didn’t obey him.
Today the worry is that, what we can do to overcome this alarming issue of violence against women in India. Since, a large number of evidence shows that politics, economy and many other social factors are cause of violence against women in India. Now, it is time to amend some laws and add few new laws to the criminal law of India, in order to reduce crimes against women. Moreover, it is time to have awareness about social problems of our country. In our country many people are suffering due to lack of knowledge about their rights. According to the Congress President Sonia Gandhi, “social revolution for empowering women… seek to reform the mind set and old thoughts of our society,” and she further claims that, empowerment of women can’t be achieved by only passing laws or through mass protests. She says that, “it requires instilling particular values to boys and girls” (John et al). No doubt, early education about ethical values of our society is very important to overcome many social problems of our country. For that every individual should play active role to educate their children in home and even separate the knowledge of ethics to everyone in public sphere. In addition to this, government should increase female quota in the law enforcement institutions and in the political parties, which may also help to empower women and encourage women to fight for their rights. Very importantly, the government makes sure that laws should be implemented properly because corruption is great hurdle to apply the laws in practical life. Moreover, severity of crime should be considered with high comprehension and more frequent crimes should be given severe sanctions so that crime rate will be under control. By logic, the country like India with high rape cases should consider rape as severe offense as murder because each year thousands of rape cases are not record and offenders are not given sentence for rape, they are only given penalty for the murder cause by the rape. Finally, being a good citizen of our country it is our responsibility to make sure that not only violence against women, but also all kinds of social evils from our society should be eradicate. For that reason, we all should try to avoid every kind of social evils and we should also ask our friends and family members to play their role as a good and responsible citizen. In fact, if we think, criminals are also part of our society and they are one of us. Therefore, the most important thing is to change the society from the grass root level, so that, one day our society will be considered as one of the most safe place of the world for not only women but also for everyone.

Name Total Number
Percentage Year Rank
1,270,272,105 (1.27 billion) 2011 2nd
Economy 2 2011 5th
Political Status 2011 17th
Per Capita Income2 2012 163rd
Crime 2012 10th
Crime Against Women 3 2011 4th
Percentage Rape Increase 3 902% 1971-2012
Child Marriages 24,456 2012
Murder Due to Dowry Related Cases 4 8030 2007
Women Kidnapping and Abduction 4 81.2% 2012
Honor Killing by Family 4 88.9%

Sex Ratio1 940 females per 1000 males 2011

Works Cited
“Census of India 2011.” Chart. Www.india.govt.In. National E-Governance Plan, National

Informatics Centre (NIC, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 2 Dec. 2013. .

Ferrante, Joan. Sociology A Global Perspective. 8th ed. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2011. Print.

Ghosh, Sreeparna. “Violence against Married Women in India – Can the Data Tell Us

Anything?” Ideas for India. International Growth Centre, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Nov.

2013. .

John, Dona, Omair Ahmad, and Maria Schneider. “India: Violence Against Women. Current

Challenges and Future Trends.” Für Die Freiheit. Referat Für Querschnittsaufgaben,

2013. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. .

Kohn, Sally. “Is India the Rape Capital of the World?” More. Meredith Corporation, 17 Apr.

2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. .

Nyden, Gwendolyn E., Adie Nelson, and James M. Henslin, et al. Sociology: A Down-to-earth

Approach,Scarborough, Ont. Allyn & Bacon Canada, 2008. Print.

Priyanka. “Women Empowerment India.” Empower Women Empower Generation. 15 July

2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2013. .


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