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WOMEN and CRIME.

India, April 6 -- The Delhi High Court upheld the death sentences of the four convicted for the rape and murder of the young trainee physiotherapist. A sordid incident that gripped the entire nation for the horrendous nature of the crime, with people openly showing revulsion for the maniacs who deserved nothing less than the death rap, this case, it is expected, would prove to be the benchmark for similar cases in future.

Nevertheless, at a time when people have openly come out against the entrenched culture of violence against women in the country, where activists have been demanding a harsher law for crimes against the weaker sex; are we not overlooking a simple but harsh truth? In the eagerness to carry forward the term 'weaker sex' to literally mean what it indicates indirectly, things have reached a stage where it would imply that by virtue of being the weaker of the two sexes, women are to be treated deferentially. But are all the women to be attributed the traits associated with vulnerability and innocence? If a recent national data on crimes released is to be believed, it is very disheartening to learn that a shocking 92% of Metro pickpockets are women.

However, with reports of thefts, robberies and other criminal cases involving women pouring in from different parts of the country, it would be wrong to say that this development is only confined to the metro-cities.

Not that there haven't been instances of women known to exhibit a criminal bent of mind surprising the world with their audacious acts in history, but it is the alacrity with which the modern day crimes involving women felons are being committed that brackets the fair skin much in the mould of their male counterparts.

Or, should it be blamed on a fetish, an obsession where some women develop a fixation that involves crossing legal boundaries. The fact that they represent a minority of offenders should never be proffered as an excuse to ignore these indiscretions, no matter how minor they are.

According to a recent survey conducted, "while criminologists insist that female offenders represent only a fraction of the crime perpetrated in our society, the number of female criminals appear to be growing." While on the one hand we have crimes against women on a rise in the country, on the other hand there is every reason to be alarmed at the recent trend where more and more women are taking to a life of crime with equal ease. With India's profile as an emerging modern nation having taken a beating with recent cases of rape and atrocities against women, it appeared that the worsening picture of gender-based violence was painting a very bleak future for the nation.

Moreover with women empowerment as that modern day mantra which intends to create an environment where the fairer sex can make independent decisions on their personal development as well as shine as equals in a society that is faulted for its gender biased approach, it is difficult to associate anything criminal with their demeanour.

Yet, in a bid to face up to the social challenges encountered many a woman has taken recourse to such 'shortcuts' to survival that only promises them a very bleak future.

Is our system at fault in that it has miserably failed to strive for the social upliftment of women? Yes, while some are definitely victims of circumstances, there are quite a few who take to such unsocial acts purely for the thrill of it.

The craze for living life in the fast lane, and then the struggle to maintain it, has not differentiated between the genders; nor has it made a distinction between the social standing of the offenders. The spate of arrests where suave and well-educated women have been apprehended for various offenses belies this myth. Let us wake up to the fact that changing lifestyles have their own consequences.

In this age of computer savviness where addiction to social networking sites has increased cyber-related crimes manifold, sex has not been the determining factor where the rapidly advancing technology has been used to dupe innocents. With every passing day there are reports of unbelievable farces being enacted, crimes that could never be solved if not for the brilliance of the investigating officers.

But with sex differences in crime being read as that dissimilarity between men and women as the perpetrators and/or victims of crime, females continue to be seen more as accomplices than the actual architects of the diabolical plot. With the accent being more and more on women being seen as victims and not the person behind the vile act, a natural bias has thus developed for the fair sex.

In a recent article there was a mention of crimes by women being driven by emotions like anger, frustration or passion. But things and circumstances seem to have rapidly changed now.

For instance, thefts by maids employed in residential houses which were initially minor incidents have now moved over to a stage where the domestic helps have been convicted for their roles as co-conspirators in major crimes.

With all the talks of discrimination against the weaker sex gaining volume by the day, there is a general feeling that the modern era has brought the genders closer. Today, with various avenues open that enable women to walk shoulder-toshoulder with the opposite sex, women are bound to nurture the feeling that they are in no way inferior to men.

Nothing wrong in that really, provided women, the more hot-headed among them who after a period of exploitation are sufficiently charged to wreak vengeance on their tormentors, understand the limits of social tolerance. For those with a crooked mind however, the sky is the limit.

Is it this feeling of equality that is responsible for the sudden spurt in crimes committed by women? With the rapidly changing socioeconomic scenario, where women have left behind their traditional status as 'unpaid domestic helps' to emerge as breadwinners of the family along with the menfolk, are they being drawn to the same situations as men where developing criminal tendencies is seen as the next step in the chain of sequence? In any case, the government needs to lay equal emphasis on not only preventing crimes against women, but also deterring women from taking to a life of crime.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.

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Publication:Indian Currents
Date:Apr 6, 2014
Words:1076
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