Another Imrana like incident in UP: Why this is perennial problem in patriarchal society?

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Only 5% of crimes against women reach police stations in villages
A 28-year-old woman in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh has alleged that she has been raped by her father-in-law for the last one year. The woman has infact, moved an application before District Magistrate to take action against her father-in-law and allow her to abort her seven-month pregnancy. The complaint of this woman has revived memories of Imrana Begum's struggle for justice in the same district nine years ago after she was raped by her father-in-law.

Such cases not only depict the duplicity of our society which on one side wants strict laws to put an end to crime against women and on other, takes side of offenders or accused.

What is Imrana's case?

On June 6, 2005, 28-year-old Imrana was sexually assaulted by her father-in-law Mohammed Ali. This sparked nation-wide controversy as local community treated the case as adultery and not rape.The local community panchayat had treated the case as that of adultery instead of rape. The village elders and several levels of Islamic legal opinion regarded Imrana's marriage with her husband null, as the Sharia regards sexual relations with both the father and son as incestuous.

Instead of taking action against her father-in-law, the panchayat ordered Imrana to treat her husband Noor Ilahi as her son and his father as her husband. Imrana was made to suffer after she dared to continue living with her husband. After widespread protest, her father-in-law was arrested on June, 13, 2005 and sent to 10 years jail term.

Imrana's case not alone

In January, 2013, a 32-year-old woman in Halvad town of Surendranagar district of Gujarat was allegedly raped for over 40 times by her brother-in-law and father-in-law. Her father-in-law was 70-years-old while her brother-in-law was 42-years-old. In this case, to put their side, the accused claimed that the woman needed physical intimacy as her husband had reportedly turned impotent.

Only 5% of crimes against women reach police stations in villages

In January, 2014, a woman alleged that she was raped by her 65-year-old father-in-law. The 26-year-old complainant used to stay with her in-laws in Kasaiwada in Kurla (East).

Mindset needs to be changed

In her complaint, the woman said her husband is in Dubai for the last two years and taking an opportunity of his absence, her father-in-law has been raping her at gunpoint since 2013. Recounting her agony, the woman said he even video recorded the act and threatened to make it public if she opened her mouth.

Among other things, she mentioned an important point. The woman said that when she told her husband about her sufferings, he blamed her for making false allegations against his father. Her husband's comment may be prickling to some of us, but it is the stark reality of our society. Such statement shows a regressive attitude of a wrongly conditioned male psyche. In our society, women's version are often downplayed to save the so-called 'family honour'. Women is usually held responsible for most of the crime against them, and in many, she is not allowed to file complaint due to family honour.

As per a study, only 5% of crimes against women reach police stations in villages and in only 30% cases, actions are taken against the accused. This further encourage the offenders to continue with their activity without any fear.

The patriarchal society

The Imrana's case had put the Islamic laws under public scanner which instead of punishing the culprit, asked her to accept him as his husband. In this case too, clerics have jumped in and have declared that, henceforth, the husband of the victim would be treated as her son.

Maulana Mohammad Nazar of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has been quoted as saying in India Today report as, "As per the Sharia law, the baby in her womb is her husband's brother. Her husband must divorce her, even if his father looked at his wife with lust."

We need to have an overall change in our attitudes. It seems that we have moved forward in material growth but have lagged behind in personal and moral growth. In some villages, the rape survivors have been further punished when they were made to marry the rapists themselves!

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