Kathua, Unnao, Etah: In Our Name

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There was no Nirbhaya. There was only Jyoti Singh, an ambitious 23 year old physiotherapist, who was raped, mangled and killed by five depraved men. There was no Nirbhaya because in the horrific moments when she was being brutalised in a moving bus in India’s capital city, that young woman must have been very, very afraid. As must all of us, as Indian citizens, be. Especially, the women. This epithet of fearlessness bestowed on a woman who was mercilessly violated and killed has always irked me. She didn’t deserve the end she saw and there was no glory in it. It’s time we confronted this fact so we can come out of the falsehoods that hoodwink us from all our glaring flaws.

It has been six years since the December 16 incident and despite a new law in the name of the young life that was snuffed out and a relatively prompt death sentence that was awarded to her perpetrators, the number of rapes in India have gone up by over 50%. Delhi, rightfully called ‘India’s Rape Capital’ has seen a meteoric rise of about 277%.

Welcome to 2018. An 8 year old in Kashmir’s Kathua district has been drugged, raped in a place of worship and strangled to death and further bludgeoned to eliminate any chances of survival. A 9 year old has been raped and killed in Surat. The perpetrators have left close to a hundred marks on the tiny body, some even on her private parts. Another 8-year-old was raped and strangled to death in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district where she had gone to attend a wedding with her family. The WCD minister says the government will bring in the death penalty for child rapists. A similar promise has been made by J&K’s chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti. If the above narrative sets in a sense of déjà vu, you’re not alone.

India increasingly appears to be a society that never learns the right lessons. On March 13, the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, led a midnight candle march to India Gate to demand justice for the Kathua and Unnao rape victims. “For a moment I told myself that these men can’t be molesters, especially when they have come to a march for women’s safety. But soon I realised how horribly wrong I was. Someone groped me.” Writes an India Today journalist about the so-called march for women. Let’s pause for a moment here. A woman was molested in a march clamouring for women’s safety! If there ever was a moment that had shone light on India’s growing hypocrisy in all its glory, it’s this. Rapes are not an aberration. Rapes are reflective of the values we hold as a society and the values we impart to our young. “Once a girl turns 14 or 15, you can’t call it rape after that. There is always consent. ” “The girl has to have done something wrong, that’s why she has been raped.” These gems from the old and the young alike in one of Haryana’s districts as reported by the Quint exposes the putrid internal workings of India’s social and cultural machinery.

According to the latest NCRB data, in over 90% of rape cases, the perpetrators are related to the victims. So, each time a father, a brother or a distant uncle rapes a woman, I’d like to remind us all that it happens in every father’s, every brother’s and every uncle’s name- it happens in our name, men and women alike.

“Incidents in the past few days have challenged the perception of social justice in the country,” said PM Modi in a much delayed response on the outrage over the recent rape cases. What stands out though is the fact that PM too seems to have taken a leaf put of the ‘Not in My Name’ booklet because he couldn’t even bring himself to address the issue by name. The term that our top leader dared not utter is the reality that over a hundred women in the country live each day and those are just the reported figures. Every time the PM chooses to stay silent about the crazy sexist, communal, inflammatory remarks made by leaders in his party, his response seems to scream ‘Not in My Name’. It seems to me that our approach in dealing with the issues in our society is more evasive than anything else. It’s time we confronted our failings and realised that this is a revolution that doesn’t need to start from the streets but from our own homes.

Written by Sanyogita Singh

Sanyogita

Sanyogita Singh – a Delhi based journalist

 

 

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