news Saturday, May 02, 2015 - 05:30
At a time when the government has placed the sanctity of marriage above the individual rights of a person, data shows that half of all the crimes committed against women are related to marriage. A Mint report shows that in 2012, 51 percent of crimes against women are committed within the construct of marriage. The only positive pattern to emerge from this depressing data, is that the violence is not uniformly spread across the country. Nagaland has zero crimes reported within the construct of marriage, when the percentage of crimes against women within marriage as a proportion of the total crimes against women is as high as 69.9 percent in Gujarat and 66.9 percent in West Bengal. While figures for majority of the states are in the 40s and 50s, it is a pleasant surprising to note that some states have managed to have single-digit percentages. All the north-eastern states except Assam have single-digit percentages, with Nagaland registering no cases at all. Out of the1,23,798 reported cases of crimes against women within the construct of marriage in the country, Nagaland has contributed none. Similarly, Dadra and Nagar Haveli also report no cases. After Assam, Tripura has the highest with 895 registered cases, followed by 43 in Manipur, 27 in Arunachal Pradesh, 17 in Meghalaya, 8 in Mizoram and 5 in Sikkim. The figures seem to be on the lower side in the case of union territories. Andaman and Nicobar Island has 7, Lakshadweep 1, Daman and Diu 3 and Puducherry has 17 cases. It is unclear whether the small size of the population may have contributed to this small number. Interestingly, academic Bina Agarwal, writes about a social code of conduct followed through the generations by the Garos of Meghalaya, which also outlines unacceptable behaviours towards women. She wrote in The Indian Express: “They allowed both sexes substantial sexual freedom (when consensual), but recognised that unwelcome overtures, however mild-seeming (whistling, winking, etc) and no matter where they occurred, undermine a woman’s dignity and ability to move and work freely. They defined a moral code of human conduct, not a religious or moralistic one, and enforced it socially.” Larger states like Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand and union territories like Chandigarh have 24, 253, 312, 439 and 78 cases respectively. Perhaps, the government must take note of these figures before making declarations about “marriage as a sacrament”.