While the clock steadily ticked towards the New Year, the capital of India was aghast to witness the horrendous incident of gang assault on a young girl in December 2012. While ‘nirbhayā’ battled bravely for her life, the streets of Delhi were flooded with spontaneous protesters as never before who clamored for immediate justice.
This incidence has drawn my attention to issues like protection of women against physical assault and sexual violence in ancient India. The governance in ancient Indian states was guided by the codes laid down in various smṛtīs. However it was necessary to comprehend how these codes were actually put in practice. The terms ‘Kumārīsāhasadanḍa’ and ‘Daṃḍadaśapārādha’ mentioned frequently in some inscriptions of ancient Deccan enumerate criminal codes for protection of women. These important references allow us to realize the measures actually taken by the rulers of ancient Deccan, especially the Śilāhāras of North Kokaṇa against ‘Kumārīsāhasa’, instances of physical assault and sexual violence.
Itihas Darpan, Volume XIX (1), Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, New Delhi, 2014, ISSN 974-3065x