Raksha Bandhan’s Message Amidst Rising Crimes Against Women in Tripura

By Pankaj Debbarma

Raksha Bandhan is far more than a mere tradition; it is a timeless festival that weaves a tapestry of sibling love and protection, binding hearts together. While its roots extend back millennia, it was during the 16th century that this ritual gained widespread popularity, fuelled by the legendary tales of Krishna. His act of safeguarding Draupadi, symbolizing the essence of the festival, remains deeply ingrained in its significance.

The myth reveals a poignant tale—on a day when Krishna flew a kite (the narrative varies), injuring his finger, Draupadi, overcome with distress, tore a piece of her saree to gently bind his bleeding finger. Touched by her gesture, Krishna vowed to protect her from harm, accepting her offering as a ‘Raksha Sutra,’ a sacred thread symbolizing profound love and guardianship. When Draupadi faced humiliation, Krishna’s blessings caused her saree to become endless, thwarting her dishonour. His unwavering protection mirrored the eternal bond between siblings.

Raksha Bandhan mirrors this profound connection, as sisters tie the rakhi—a thread of love and prayers—around their brothers’ wrists, who in turn pledge unwavering support. Rooted in Hindu culture, this celebration is enriched by narratives that echo the essence of nurturing sibling relationships.

Yet, the festival’s message of guardianship compels us to address a sombre reality—the escalating crimes against women. Beyond its familial connotations, it urges society to prioritize women’s safety, empowerment, and respect on a broader canvas.

An analysis of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from Tripura reveals a disturbing pattern of reported crimes against women from 2017 to 2021. The figures—972 in 2017, 907 in 2018, 1070 in 2019, 874 in 2020, and 807 in 2021—paint a concerning picture. However, the drop during COVID-19 might not signify reduced incidents but limited reporting due to constraints.

Experts highlight the pandemic’s impact on reporting, leading to decreased incidents on record. Particularly alarming is the 17.1% rise in ‘Cruelty by Husband or his Relatives’ from 2018 to 2021. A curious trend emerges: a 48.8% surge in this category—from 303 cases in 2018 to 451 in 2019—followed by a dip to 355 in 2021.

Reports of 2018-19 & 2019-20 reveal the Tripura Commission for Women received 558 complaints from April 2018 to March 2019—an increase of 22.5% to 684 from April 2019 to March 2020. Disturbingly, domestic violence and matrimonial disputes dominate crimes against women in Tripura during both periods.

Recognizing the limitations of official records, it’s crucial to acknowledge underreporting due to social barriers and lack of awareness. Measures like the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 penalize the non-registration of specific sexual offenses by police. Helpline numbers and One Stop Centres provide avenues for reporting, with approximately 730 OSCs across India, including eight in Tripura.

Amidst rising crime statistics, a glimmer of positivity shines through expert perspectives—a higher reporting rate indicates society’s readiness to confront these issues. This shift implies a willingness to address concerns that have long lingered.

In the spirit of Raksha Bandhan’s call for protection and vigilance, let this festival remind us of our collective duty to ensure women’s safety, dignity, and rights. Just as sisters symbolically tie rakhis, let society unite as protectors and advocates, tirelessly striving for women’s well-being. May our commitment to combating crimes against women resonate as loudly as the bonds forged during Raksha Bandhan—a bridge between tradition and a future where safety and respect prevail.

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