Time and again we hear stories of atrocities against women and children.

The findings of a compilation of cases of rape in the country between 2009 and 2020 by the National Commission for Women and Children are, therefore, unfortunate and startling. From about 530 cases of rape, 70% are rape of children, and about four women and children were sexually assaulted every month in the last 11 years.

The above cases are just a few of those unbelievable stories that continue to emerge time and again, and question the humanity in us. It’s dreadful that usually the perpetrators of such heinous acts of rape and sexual assault against our children are people we trust to teach and protect them. It’s worrying that people exist in the society who are sick in their heads and walk among us; pretending that they are normal when in fact they are not.

As stories of atrocities against women and girls continue unabatedly, we are also confronted with lots more questions than answers. How do we stop this evil of rape, sexual assault and child abuse? Or should it be accepted that this is a world in which it’s dangerous to be a female? Another appalling fact is that two-thirds of the victims know their aggressors and such assaults commonly take place in the home of either the victim or the rapist.

It’s timely, therefore, that we treat these epidemics of violence against women and girls as a primary issue. It’s an urgent issue that demands urgent actions. It’s a national shame when we look at the incidences were our children and women are being allegedly raped by our family members, teachers and functionaries. If it’s reforms in the laws that are needed now, it must be made accordingly so that there is no leniency and compassion for such heinous acts. A top down approach, especially from the state, becomes pivotal here.

Further, a climate must be created where victims feel they can come forward instead of keeping their suffering to themselves. We must work on changing the culture that encourages women to come forward and speak up for themselves. Women shouldn’t blame themselves for being victims. More women coming forward would eventually go on to create the much-needed advocacy and dissent among people; thus not only discouraging such crimes but also ensuring that these are brought to justice.

There is also the need to enhance protection system for children, be it at home, school or public places, which reportedly seems to be weak today. Further, every schools, teachers and parents need to take sexual assaults and child abuse cases seriously.

Efforts must be made to identify setbacks and right the wrongs so that convictions become more possible and punishments more convincing.