October 24, 2013

Crimes Against Women: Three Tragedies and the Call for Reform in India - A Book Review

Crimes Against Women: Three Tragedies and the Call for Reform in India

But one day she lost
To the maze of this life
To the inhumane humans
And to their acts.

But as she was going away
She showed to us the face of the bad
And she went away by giving us this deep thought
“What will happen to us?”
These lines from the book – Crimes Against Women – Three Tragedies and the Call for Reform in India, are probably the ones that reflect, most, the questions that are in the minds of millions of Indians today, specifically Indian women.

The Delhi rape case shook the country and brought to the forefront, the daily struggle that many Indian women face. The Wall Street Journal's Indian bureau explored this horrendous crime and others that explore the experience of Indian women in the 21st century. Crimes Against Women presents facts about 3 tragedies that have shaken the social fabric of India in the recent past. The first part of the book pertains to the murder of Sister Valsa, second to the story of Falak and last part to the Delhi bus rape.

Sister Valsa was a catholic nun who tried to help a tribal woman who had been raped. Apart from this Sister Valsa helped the tribals negotiate deals with mining Industrialists in Jharkhand. She showed them a way of life while at the same time helping them retain their tribal customs. One day, she was murdered by a mob made up of the very same tribals.

The story of Falak is a true account of multiple tragedies against women. A mother – Munni Khatoon takes her 3 children and goes with a man to Delhi; to escape domestic violence. The other man instead of keeping his promises of marrying her, brings her to a juncture where she has to choose between prostitution or marriage to a man for money under another identity. Her children are separated from her. In parallel to this, runs the story of Gudiya, a girl neglected by her father and lured into prostitution in childhood. All the characters in this true story have their own tragedies and the events unfold into a bigger tragedy, that is the death by battery of a baby girl – Falak.

The last story is of Nirbhaya or Delhi Braveheart or Jyoti - The daughter of a small town worker who moved to Delhi for better life and future of his children. The girl who attends college in morning and works at a call centre at night to secure money towards a better life for herself and her family. Nirbhaya had dreams and worked towards achieving them with sheer dedication and hardwork. She had a special friend with whom she went to see Life of Pi one day, and while returning, they took a bus. The bus ride, which changed their lives. He was attacked and injured and she was raped so badly that she died.

The remarkable thing about Crimes against Women by The Wall Street Journal is the way it presents facts. There are detailed accounts of all individuals involved in these three crimes – their lives, their struggles and their perspectives. There are some fresh details of the individuals’ lives as well. For instance, I didn’t know that 2 of the Delhi rapists were married. I can’t imagine the condition of their wives. How, they must feel! Another important highlight of the book is the intimate and exclusive account of Nirbhaya’s friend. The book is written in simple English and makes an interesting read. It doesn’t seek to preach but just inform by presenting all facts in an unbiased manner.  The afterword of the book suggests that change needs to happen in India and it has to happen fast and for this change to occur, 3 major things need to be done:-

  1. Building a better trained police force, judges and efficient courts -  Perpetrators should not be able to bribe their way out or languish in jail or roam free on bail while their trials go on and on.
  2. Accountability for public servants - Voters should express their views against those public figures who are still stupid enough to blame rape on women, clothes, modernity and chowmein!  
  3. Change in culture – Women are not to be seen as objects of servitude to their husbands and in-laws. Dowry and domestic violence is not acceptable.  Men need to accept women as equal entities, not as objects of desire. 


I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn the facts. My only ire against this book is that I wish there was more on how reform can be bought about. People in India generally consider topics like rape, domestic violence and abuse, taboo, and brush them under the carpet. This book presents facts about such crimes. It’s a must read. Ignorance is not bliss. Its time to embrace facts and act to bring in reform.

Other Related Information:-

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (1 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062312170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062312174
  • Price: 250 Rupees

I got this book via the Book Reviews program run by Harper Collins and Indiblogger.

7 comments:

  1. Even you can purchase the same book at Amazon.in for a price of Rs.149.00

    Link: http://www.amazon.in/Crimes-Against-Women-Tragedies-Reform/dp/0062312170

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, yes its available on Amazon for 149. Flipkart is also selling it at the same price.

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  4. @veturisarma thanks a lot for the nomination, excited to have won my first blogging award!

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