By Mikaela Viqueira
New Delhi, Dec 22 (EFE).- The murder of a young woman by her partner, who chopped her dead body into pieces and threw them one by one in a forest in New Delhi, has put the spotlight on the brutality of crimes against Indian women, who lack protection by the system and are often left alone by their family too.
Shraddha Walkar was strangled to death in May, but her body – chopped into 35 pieces – was discovered close to her house in the capital only in November.
In the aftermath, the press focused not just on the gruesome nature of the crime, but also the lack of protection and support by Indian authorities when Walkar had gone to the police in 2020 to complain of aggression and death threats by her partner, who went on to kill her.
Although Walkar’s Hindu family had refused to accept her relationship with a Muslim man, it also did not support her when she expressed regret and unhappiness over the union, and the woman was forced to withdraw her complaint 21 days after filing it.
Apart from reopening the debate on “love jihad” – a term coined by Hindu extremist groups to accuse Muslims of luring Hindu women into marrying them and converting to Islam – the crime has brought more attention to other brutal murders of women that followed it.
Just a few days later, the dismembered body of a woman was found in a village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, who, according to the authorities, could have been killed by her former partner as she refused to divorce her husband and marry him.
The inability to accept “no” or rejection is often the biggest reason for men resorting to violence against women in all patriarchal societies, but crimes against women have surged in India in recent years.
As per the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2021, as many as 428,278 complaints of violence against women were registered in the country, amounting to a 15 percent jump from 2020 (371,503 cases).
“Because they don’t take ‘no’ for a no, they will push you, bully you, they will do everything” as rejection is considered a defeat, renowned women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari told EFE.
She added that even though Indian women are increasingly conscious of their freedoms, the level of aggression and crimes against them has kept increasing, as men still feel that women’s bodies belong to them.
“The men have the power to not only finish your life, but finish your life in the most brutal way,” Kumari said.
Women’s freedom of choice is often difficult to accept for even their families, who continue to take key decisions about their lives – often without paying heed to their wishes – such as choosing a husband.
The corpse of Aayushi Chaudhary was discovered in a suitcase in November, with the police treating as a suspected “honor killing,” after the victim married a man from a different caste.
“If a woman decides to marry someone they want to marry, then it is considered as breaking or violating the honor of the family,” Kumari explained, adding that this can even lead to murder for having caused “irreparable damage” to the family by going against the parents’ wishes.
On the other hand, when a woman complains that she no longer wants to stay with her partner or husband and describes episodes of abuse, she is often left in the lurch by families that normalize such behavior and force the victim to continue staying with the aggressor.
“The family does not stand behind the girls to support them, so they become totally helpless” when facing domestic violence or abuse within marriage or a romantic relationship, and complaining about it.
The lack of family support aggravates the women’s predicament within a system incapable of protecting them.
When Walkar complained against her husband, ” the police did not even think fit to call that man and ask him questions,” Kumari highlighted. EFE