With every passing day in India we see newspapers ravaged with newfound issues and flaws that are slowly and deeply degenerating the essence of democracy from within Indian society. An unfortunate common element that a number of these issues see – be it the inefficiency of the judiciary, the degradation of the economy of the country, or the aggravation of poverty in the country – is that they have all worsened under the very regime that came to power with the pompous promise of ‘ache din’. One of these very issues that has recently come to light due to a series of disturbing events, is that of rape.
The Hathras rape case that has been flooding social media and newspapers is one that brings the very pertinent question of not just women’s safety, but also the protection of minority classes, back to the forefront. A nineteen year old girl from the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh was brutally raped, with her legs and spine being broken, and her tongue being injured from strangulation. The family of the girl was not allowed to see her after her death, and she was stealthily cremated by the police after being found in a pool of blood in a farm near her home. While the police report does not clearly site rape as an explanation for her state, tears in her private areas confirm the theory.
The first thing that the government of India needs to do is stop politicising the issue of rape. Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has hired a PR firm to propagate the idea that the “Hathras girl was not raped.” It is bad enough that the government has no measures in place that can prevent such occurrences, but it is exponentially more appalling to understand that the government chooses to deny the very occurrence of rape in itself. Why is the issue being politicised like that? The Indian populous is not unaware of the fact that rape is rampant in India. In fact, there are an average of 89 rape cases registered in India every day, and 8 of those come from Uttar Pradesh.
Furthermore, what was the need to politicise the issue even further by undermining the religious values of the family – why did the police cremate her before sunrise when her family wished to not? The fact that Manisha Valmiki was a Dalit girl hints at the unacceptable yet omnipresent casteism that is still present in India. Every week 13 Dalits are murdered, 5 Dalit homes are burnt, 6 Dalit people are kidnapped or abducted and 21 Dalit women are raped. Considering that the Hathras case is not a lone incident of Dalits being beaten and killed due to their caste, hints at the fact that India needs reform at the earliest, not a government that adds fuel to the fire.
The unfortunate reality of the situation lies in the fact that the Modi government, who came to power with the idea of building a safe India for women, have actually worsened the situation. The same Narendra Modi, and the same Bharatiya Janta Party that made it their purpose to fight for justice for Nirbhaya when it was convenient for them and their opposition, the Congress was in power, have forgotten their great ideals of safety for women and justice after winning the elections. Modi claimed that previous governments only made promises about women’s safety, with no action being taken, but I suppose here we have an opportunity to draw yet another parallel of the Modi regime with the Congress governments.
In 2014, before his election, Modi warned Congress lawmakers against “politicising rape,” and said that they were “playing with the dignity of women.” Well I’m sure the 34,651 (only the registered cases, there are several unregistered per day) women who were raped in 2015 when he came to power, would consider Modi to be rather hypocritical. This figure of 2015, a year after Modi came to power, can be compared with that of a year such as 2012, before the Modi regime came into play, where the number of registered rapes per year were 24,923. That is almost a 10,000 case jump from the Congress government to the Modi regime. Are women really safe in Modi’s India?
What is even more abysmal about the Modi government and it’s handling of the situation of women’s safety is that the conviction rate of rapists has gone down drastically. In 2012, the conviction rate was 49.25%, but it become 29.37% in 2014, according to NCRB. How is this a safer Bharat?
The Modi regime needs to stop politicising rape, and start acknowledging it and taking steps towards preventing such cases. First off, they need to make sure that there is an expedited trial for Manisha Valmiki, the Hathras Rape Victim. Her family must be served justice at the earliest, because justice for Manisha means justice for women and girls across India. Justice for Manisha will serve as a deterrent for such crimes in the future. Having another case of Nirbhaya, where the family gets justice only after 8 years despite the case being greatly publicised will only allow rapists to believe that they can get away with breaking the law and violating women. If the recent cases of Rhea Chakraborty and Arnab Goswami can be expedited at the jurisdiction of the government why can’t the case of a gruesome murder be shown the same importance?
Secondly, the Modi regime needs to place sex education measures in place such that sex education and gender sensitivity training is provided to MEN and women across India. BJP MLAs need to stop publicising ideas like “rape cases can be stopped only with sanskar and not governance.” The only thing that can stop rape is governance and the implementation of the laws that are created. The idea of “boys will be boys” as claimed by Mulayam Singh Yadav needs to be removed from the minds of people. Rape is not the woman’s fault, the concept of consent needs to be drilled into the minds of boys from a young age.
Even as a 16 year old girl in India who has the privilege of living in a secure home with people to look after me and ensure my safety, I am still not allowed to go outside at night because it is “unsafe,” there are still areas of my own city that I cannot even roam in broad daylight alone because “something could happen.” And I’m one of the privileged ones. I refuse to live in an India where women have to live their lives in constant fear of oppression and harm. Unlike what Babu Lal Gaur, the BJP veteran claims, rape is not “sometimes right,” it is always wrong. We need laws in place to make India a country where women can live happily and fearlessly, and we need to ensure that these laws are implemented at the earliest so that the women that unfortunately have to suffer such a heinous crime actually receive justice.
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