This refers to the report, “U.S., U.N. wade into rape row” (June 5). The comments by the U.S. State Department and the U.N. Secretary General on the rising atrocities against women in India mark a shameful moment for every law-abiding citizen in this country. India must wake up and focus on ensuring the safety of women. The media and the government of India can play a major role in helping reduce attacks on women. The police force in each State must be strengthened. Proper law enforcement systems will go a long way in ensuring women’s safety.

Ratna Praveena S., Hyderabad

It was inevitable that brutal crimes like the rape and hanging of two girls on a tree would attract international attention. The adverse comments emanating from organisations like the U.N. must spur us into addressing the issue of sexual violence against women, especially those belonging to the marginalised sections, with the seriousness it deserves. At the same time, one cannot but decry the tendency of sections of the western elite, especially in the U.S., to harp on negative things happening to rising powers like China and India. America’s moral right to pontificate on violence against women is questionable. The New York Times once quoted a U.S. government study according to which one out of every five U.S. woman has experienced sexual violence. It is significant that the U.N. chief has had nothing to say on this.

V.N. Mukundarajan, Thiruvananthapuram

Every Indian should hang his head in shame. To the rest of the world we are now a nation of rapists and sex abusers. The callous manner in which some of our leaders are offering excuses when responding to these incidents must be condemned. One has never heard the word “sorry” ever being used. The government machinery must be activated through the visual and print media to discuss how incidents of sexual assault could be brought down.

C.N. Parthasarathy, Hyderabad

It is terrible that we have come to a stage where the U.N. has to point fingers at us. The political class seems to care only about money and power. Nothing else matters to them. The time has come to take to the next level punishment against those who resort to sexual violence. Punishment as meted out in some West Asian countries that includes the severing of body parts of offenders must be thought of.

Ramabhadran Narayanan, Coimbatore

Incidents of rape happen because of a lack of fear. Societal norms are being diluted, and the media and technology are to be blamed for this. Earlier, society used to ensure that women were safe. Men were afraid of teasing or misbehaving with women for fear of being attacked or even lynched. Now, society is nonchalant and tries to be as uninvolved as possible. The report, “Mumbai woman bus conductor assaulted” (June 5), is a case in point.

R. Ganesh, Chennai

Ratna Kapur’s article “Normalising sexual violence?” (June 5) is bold and timely. It is an irony that sexual harassment, which has all along been the pursuit of perverts, is now being used as a weapon to settle political issues.

K.S. Thampi, Chennai

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi’s idea (June 3) of starting rape crisis centres is a good one. However, she must take this a step further by coordinating matters with related Ministries. In many parts of India, girls are treated as second-class citizens in almost every field. This can be countered only through education. Subjects such as gender equality should be included in syllabi in story format from the primary classes. Compulsory universal education must be implemented honestly. Targets must be set on a monthly basis for every district, to show a crime-free record.

Mathew Gainneos, Thiruvananthapuram

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