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The appalling manner in which women are subjected to horrendous sexual violence in India seems to be proving over and over again that this country is the most unsafe place for women in the world. The perilous conditions in which Indian women live and the dismal record of steps taken to create a society where women and children are secure, explains why sexual crimes have become an everyday event. What is very evident is the increasing climate of impunity against perpetrators; submerged in the deafening silence of those in power. In the past week - the horrific gang rape of a young woman veterinarian in Hyderabad; a 6 year old child sexually brutalised and killed in Tonk, Rajasthan; a Class 11 girl abducted and gang raped in Coimbatore; an Adivasi law student abducted and gang-raped by a group of armed men in Ranchi and most recently the murder of the 17-year old girl who had been raped a little over a year ago in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. She suffered 90 percent burns but it remains to be seen whether the five accused (including the Village Headman’s son) will now be booked for murder, given the dismal experience of a year ago. Indeed this is not a nation for women!

The Indian Christian Women's Movement joins the voices of protest against the increasing acts of violence against women. Even as we condemn the rape and murder of the 27-year old veterinary doctor in Hyderabad, the “police encounter” killing of the four men accused, fills us with outrage. We assert that crimes against women and children need to be tackled through law enforcement and not in an arbitrary manner.

Our churches have been, by and large, silent in responding to the crimes against women and girls in this country. The ways in which the Churches have responded to incidents of abuse and even rape in their own environs, underlines the apathy of the church authorities to speak out against rape and violence against women. In this context, as Christian women in India, we see this situation with deep concern and want to respond with courage. We join hands with all people of goodwill in this country and call on the government, the law makers, the politicians, the judiciary and the church leadership to respond, with a sense of urgency. We insist on a code of accountability and responsibility for law enforcement agencies. In this dreadful situation of unbridled gender violence and sexual crimes, we demand a country that is safe and peaceful for Indian women and girls.

Dr Aruna Gnanadason, National Convener, ICWM & National Team: Dr Kochurani Abraham, Marcia D'Cunha, Rev Dr Jayachitra Lalitha, Dr Joycia Thorat, Dr Lalnghakthuami, Sushma Ramswami

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