Another Day, Another Rape

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If India had learnt any lesson on protecting its women against vile monsters lurking in every alley, two teenage sisters in Utter Pradesh would not have been raped, murdered and hung from a tree. After all, it has been 10 years since the brutal gang rape of a young woman aboard a bus in New Delhi had sent shock waves far and wide. That the six accused have been apprehended by the law enforcement agencies cannot even begin to pay for their crimes. Going by the controversial release of all 11 convicts in another heinous sex crime just last month, these men would most likely (sooner, rather than later) find the state, the law and the society all rooting in their corner. The turning screws can already be heard from afar. As always, the local police have started tearing the victims apart with careless statements about their willingness to accompany the said group. The mother’s account could not be more different: the two girls were forcibly taken from their home in her presence. Meanwhile, the state deputy chief minister promises action that would make the “souls of coming generations (of the perpetrators)…shiver.” Perhaps, he would do well to read his prime minister’s appeal for “greater respect toward women,” and then glance through the horrifying details of the broth brewing underneath his nose.
Wasn’t it just two years ago that similar assurances were announced to the mass outcry over the rape and murder of another minor of the same Dalit caste in the same state? India being the most dangerous country to a woman in is old news, but its authorities’ apathy as they turn a blind eye to shocking statistics still remains the deadly elephant in the room. According to data collected by Indian National Crime Records Bureau, there has been an overwhelming 19 per cent increase in rape cases (an average of 87 cases every day) just last year. Let that sink in. 87 girls and women are brutally assaulted–many killed in the process–every day in a country whose unofficial religion celebrates several female deities. Apparently, the goddess-worship does not believe in extending due regard to ordinary women, treated as free lunches (to be ravished by whoever lays eyes on them first). The situation gets even more critical when talking about women from poor and lower-caste backgrounds wherein reported cases of rape have seen an unbelievable 45 per cent rise in the last five years. Since patriarchal notions stop many in their tracks, the government itself believes that gross under-reporting of sexual assault cases goes as high as 99 per cent.
The heart-breaking data would have been enough for any functioning administration to pull up socks and get down to the immediate business of improving the criminalisation of the accused. Led by an ultra-hardliner Hindu nationalist, Yogi Adityanath, the BJP government in the Northern Indian state, however, believes in splashing muddy waters over the bruised faces, showing a menacing finger to those who dare speak for them and move on as if nothing life-shattering happened. Encouraged by an overall impunity culture, those responsible for the heart-breaking list go on unleashing the full brunt of their terror.