FOR ADVOCATE Asunta Pardhe, who heads the Chetana Mahila Vikas Kendra, dealing with a minimum of three domestic violence cases, is part of a routine day. Pardhe says that the data released by the police is only the tip of the iceberg as “there are so many cases of rape and molestation that go unreported.”
According to the data released by the police, there has been a 33 per cent rise in the number of rapes and 55 per cent increase in molestation cases against women in Pune last year in comparison to 2014. While agreeing that the rise could be attributed to a possible increase in the number of women reporting the cases, Pardhe points out that still, “there are many who do not even talk about the incidents”.
“We had a case where a 14-year-old girl was raped by four boys, as she used to fight with them. It was a way of showing their domination. The girl is yet to report the incident, while the parents are trying to hush-up the matter,” says Pardhe.
Pardhe reasons that women are taking up professional roles, and often, work till late nights. “There is a feeling of animosity that has been developing among men with women no longer being subjected to stereotypical roles, taking orders from men. This makes them violent and frustrated. We also get cases where men tell us that their wives are not listening to them and have become extremely demanding,” she points out.
Kiran Moghe, national secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) believes that after the 2012 Delhi rape case, women were emboldened to register the cases. But has that stopped the crimes from taking place? she asks. Dr Vibhuti Patel, who has been active in the women’s movement for four decades and is presently the head of the department of economics at SNDT university, Mumbai, feels that there is a rising hostility among men towards the new-age successful women.
“It is no longer about upliftment of women. Today, women are competing with men. The rivalry intensifies when boys who are school dropouts and do not have a source of income find girls moving ahead of them, doing well in their profession and finding a better quality of life,” Patel says. Talking of security concerns, Patel says, “Pune has a massive urban population and on several stretches, there are lonely roads. The police need to patrol these areas and make it safe for women to ply.”