A Moment of Self-Reflection After Kathua and Unnao

The Kathua and Unnao rape cases have cast light on the way women are treated in India. Only 5-6% of the rape cases are reported in India, and those who do report it have to face humiliation and harassment from those in power. However it is not the crime itself that stops women from reporting it to the police.

It’s the consequences which are placed on the victims shoulders- character assault, and lack of empathy towards these crimes by the policemen themselves.

As we saw in the case of Unnao, police officers refused to file an FIR against the BJP MLA who had been accused of the heinous rape of a 17 year old girl. He later gave an interview, where he tried to imply that he was being falsely implicated, despite there being evidence that he had actually committed the crime.

Soon after the details of this horrific case came out, another rape case made the headlines- that of 8 year old Asifa Bano. Asia was a simple nomadic girl from a Muslim Tribe protected in Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution. She was merely grazing horses on 10th January, when a man kidnapped her and held her in a temple. Soon thereafter, many more men came and drugged her. After days of torture, she was killed by two stones to the head. Their motive? They wanted to drive out the nomadic community she was from because of a land dispute.

What should have swift justice ensured to Asifa’s family was stopped by giving the crime a communal twist. After all, there were 8 Hindu men who had been arrested after an investigation which Hindu nationalists claim, was biased. Biased, because they were conducted by Muslim men.

In the fray of the protests organised by Jammu Bar Association against filing the chargesheet, Asifa has been forgotten. A senseless protest was attended by members of the ruling Party. Followed by the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, outrage began to reach it’s heights, and then more protests across India were planned.

Soon, after pressure, the BJP ministers who attended the protest resigned. Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence in a conference where he inaugurated a statue of Dr. BR Ambedkar- a staunch supporter of minority rights. The same minority rights were denied to the Bakkarwals, the 60,000 strong community which saw Asifa Bano being raped.

On Sunday, 15th April, I attended a protest in support of Asifa and the woman who was raped in Unnao. The protest raised many demands, although some were dreams at best.

The Women and Children minister also tweeted about the death penalty, until I realised that it wasn’t going to help.

Sentencing rapists isn’t our problem. Convicting them, and making sure that these rapes are even reported to the police is our problem.

Most rapes in India are not even reported, and the ones that do report this crime have to wait for years and years to get justice, if at all there is any.

But there is little that the court can do if it is the police officers who themselves are not willing to lodge a First Incidence Report or FIR.

What then, does a person have the choice to do, other than to try and take her own life, as we saw in the case of Unnao. The problem is that people in power have had too much much to do, and too little to care.

They have used their position to inflict fear into the minds of the people.

And in Kathua, those who were in positions in the government and those who were members of the ruling party were quick to organise a protest to stop the chargesheet from being filed.

The politics did not fail to disgust any of us, and the BJP faced the voices of thousands of angry citizens who were demanding to just see some morality in what the ruling party’s representatives do. Supporting rapists, of course was never morally correct.

But with the way things are going, it seems as if there is no right or wrong. There is only the left, the right, and the centre.

 

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What Happened To Women’s Reservation Bill In India?

When the ‘Modi Wave’ took over India three years back, it resulted in a landslide victory for BJP which formed the government in India. I admit I was also captivated by the image projected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi: A new age, a new India free from all the corruption, all the promises about no disappointment, development at a rate faster than any country had ever exhibited. But I was a mere thirteen-year-old kid, with an easily influenced mind. I saw Modi as a powerful leader, who will deliver under any circumstances or pressure. It might have been true too.

B​ut what really impressed me was BJP’s commitment to go ahead with the much delayed promise of reserving seats for women candidates in the Parliament and state assemblies. That was what had made me support BJP (not that I could vote) in the first place.

It’s been three years and nothing has been done for the countless women who want to be a part of Indian politics. There has been no action taken by the Government with regard ​to reserving seats for women. The current number of women in Parliament stands at 61​,​ which is just 11.1%​ of the total of 545​.

And there is hardly any difference in the number of women BJP MPs vis-a-vis the number of women in the previous Congress Government. While Congress had 59 women MPs, BJP has just two more at 61.

 

This is a sad state of affairs.According to BJPs Manifesto, a  ‘Comprehensive scheme to encourage positive attitude amongst families towards the girl child’ must be made. 
​The mindset towards women in politics and other field remains conservative and backward. ​

We are more than halfway into the term for a political party to be in power. The opportunity to do something good for women has almost passed. The literacy rates for girls are still low. The mindset still hasn’t changed. And Indian society is one which is still extremely patriarchal. 
The one thing that the BJP government can feel proud of is the fact that they have started the path toward development, but the pace is too slow. Gender based violence is pushing women out of the public sphere. They no longer feel safe roaming on streets in a male dominated area. 
​BJP has also launched schemes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. ​This scheme was launched to check the steep fall in the Child Sex Ratio in the country and to promote the idea of education among families with girl children. 

 

For something revolutionary to happen, the mindset towards women must be combated directly through means of law enforcement. We must move towards a brighter and safer India, where every woman can keep her head high, and join politics to directly make a definitive change in our country.