Cases of domestic violence surged during the pandemic and according to data from the UN, 42 countries in the world had no policies to support women or to protect them in the event of violence and harassment.

It’s the 21st century. We now have women’s rights. We have women in ‘powerful’ positions today in almost every field. I say almost because as we write this, there are women whose very existence threatens entire regimes. Because in the most progressive and liberated countries, men (and women) criticise and objectify women for having an opinion. 

Has the world failed women? Yes. From the UK, to India. Countless times. 

All this data is from 2020 and women still have to fight for their basic rights.

Let’s talk about 2021, then? In India alone, there has been a 46% rise in complaints regarding crimes against women. That’s just the complaints. 

But, since we’re talking about the world, let’s look first to our neighbours. 

Ever since Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the militant group has imposed severe restrictions on women. From education to what they wear and where they work, women in Afghanistan are denied of even the basic things.

A group of women also took to streets protesting against the Taliban takeover. Simply because it could cost women their existence. 

At a time when women are contributing equally in administration, science and technology, politics, etc. the Taliban is of the view that they are fit only for childbirth and is restricting them from being a part of the country’s new cabinet.

Earlier in July, the Taliban leaders issued an order to local religious leaders to provide them with a list of girls over the age of 15 and widows under the age of 45 for “marriage” with Taliban fighters.

While the challenges in Afghanistan are those of basic rights that everyone deserves, the situation isn’t really progressive even in the developed parts of the world.

Recently, a new law went into effect in Texas that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. That’s well before many women even know they are pregnant.

Further there are no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.

Violence against women remains devastatingly pervasive with 1 in 3 women being subjected to physical or sexual violence. Women are not safe on streets, they are not safe even in homes.

Just today, a 34-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries after being brutally raped in Mumbai, the city that is considered to be one of the safest in the country for women.

She fought for 33 hours in a city hospital before she died. If rape in itself isn’t atrocious enough, the fact that she was tortured with a rod by her assaulter even adds to the injury. But, of course this isn’t anything new in a country where we hear of a woman being raped, assaulted or cat-called almost every other day. 

We’ve been called India’s daughters time and again, with programmes like Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao. But, to what extent are we daughters and to what extent are we being saved in a country – no in a world – that continues to treat us as objects? 

The Federal Directorate of Education in Pakistan has banned its teachers from wearing jeans, t-shirts and tights, in a stringent dress code so that the staff members “observes reasonably good measures in their physical appearance and personal hygiene”. 

This, after the fact that a woman Tiktoker was assaulted by hundreds of men in Pakistan just last month, on their country’s Independence Day. Her clothes were torn, she was thrown in the air because these men considered her nothing more than an object to be played with. What freedom? What independence? 

Sure, we can make this a discussion on Southeast Asia’s treatment of women. But then, we conveniently forget about the West. 

Like the time when 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard went missing in South London only for her body to be found in the woodlands a week later. She was killed by a serving MET police officer Wayne Couzens, who abducted and killed Sarah; but not before he raped her. 

Sarah’s death triggered one of the biggest issues of women’s safety in the UK in recent years; and for good reason. In the presence of police patrol officers and CCTV cameras in busy London, a woman disappeared, was raped and murdered. What does that tell you about the world’s treatment of women? Or the fact that thousands of women were reprimanded for protesting and holding vigils for Sarah? 

Let’s come back to Hollywood – the United States of America – known to be one of the most ‘progressive’ countries that we in the East love to ape, and aspire to be like. Hollywood successfully managed to hide hundred predators like Harvey Weinstein who benefited off women and their careers for decades before ever being called out. Not to mention the number of women whose careers he cost them. 

More recently, America’s Time’s Up organisation that launched a million women’s voices of survivors and victims, also came under fire for having advised former Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he had initially faced charges of sexual harrassment. This was an organisation created to protect the women assaulted by predators. Today, the entire board of Time’s Up has resigned. 

What does this say about women in the 21st century, at a time when countries and governments switch sides and loyalties while its women are the ones who somehow face the heat and the hurt of their schemes? What does it say when the very organisations that are built up to support and shield the women are corrupted internally to side with the powerful perpetrators? 

It says that the world has failed women; not just in one country, or continent; but collectively. 

But, you know the saddest part yet? The world knows. And till we continue to fill vote banks and popular campaigns, no one cares. Women, unfortunately will continue to be failed, the world over, until we stop being treated as objects with statistical value.