Nowhere in the world is Rape considered to be a low-grade crime. It is that brutal act which not only snatches the respect, integrity, and life of the victim, but also the belief of seeking justice. Unfortunately in India, Rape is that political tool which lies far aloof from the pain and loss of the victim’s family but serves political agenda with the dynamics of religion, caste and misogyny that shape the public debate over the problem.
The recent case of Hathras gangrape of a 19-year old Dalit girl, and cremation of her body in a hustle and bustle state late night without her kins permission; another rape of a 22-year old Dalit girl in Balrampur; 2 minor girls raped for 3 consecutive days in Rajasthan…raise the question: What impact does these incidents have on our mindset and politicians electoral agenda? Can political blame-game, rallies, financial help, be put into equilibrium with a girl’s life?
A woman was set on fire and killed a group of men, including two of her alleged rapists in Unnao in 2017. The 23-year-old girl was on her way to a hearing of her rape case when a group of men assaulted her, doused her in gasoline before setting her on fire. The CBI in its letter to the UP Government in August, had named the then district magistrate Unnao and IAS officer Aditi Singh, the then Superintendent of Police and IPS officers Pushpanjali Devi and Neha Pandey posted in Unnao between 2017 and 2018 besides ASP Ashtbhuja Singh who was promoted to IPS in 2019 citing lapses in handling the case.
A 27-year-old vet in the southern city of Hyderabad was raped and set on fire, sparking huge protests across the country. On December 6, the Hyderabad police shot all four accused of the rape case in an alleged extra-judicial killing. Many Indians lauded the police officers for dispensing “justice.”
Remember the rape and horrific murder of eight-year-old Asifa in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir? The child was kidnapped, confined using sedatives and repeatedly gang-raped in a temple. She was strangled and then pelted with a heavy stone. At that time the discussion was not on the fact that a child was abused and murdered, the matter had turned into a Hindu versus Muslim debate in the country. The most important aspect was that the victim was a Muslim and the accused perpetrators Hindus. This was also the reason that right-wing Hindu groups like the Hindu Ekta Manch had come out in support of the suspected rapists and held protests in the state.
When three men were convicted in 2014 for the gang rape of a journalist, Mulayam Singh Yadav, leader of the regional Samajwadi Party said: “Boys make mistakes. They should not hang for this. We will change the anti-rape laws.”
We neither get to hear any discussion about creating structures that could prevent such incidents in the future nor about improving the existing ones. What we all get to hear is: in whose rule has the rape graph risen.