Plight of Indian Women: Rape, Religion and Rhetoric
We live in strange times. On one hand, we have our defence ministry headed by a woman and on the other hand, we wake up to horrific news about rapes and other violence against women every single day. Rape is a heinous crime which leaves a woman traumatized forever, but sadly rape in India has become a political issue, where the newest addition to the reasons a female is raped is religion. India is swiftly moving towards a decline of humanity and civic sensitivity in political and civic life.
It was not very long ago when the whole nation was outraged at the rape of an 8-year-old Muslim girl who was abducted, drugged, raped and killed, all because she was a Muslim. And since we live in a virtual world of “trends”, Kathua rape case is not trending anymore and people are back leading their normal lives. Back in 2012 when a devastating gang-rape happened in our Capital, people were angry, but over time, the narrative has been changed from a child being brutally raped and murdered to a Muslim child raped and murdered by Hindus. And to my horror, certain politicians rallied in support of the accused, only because they were Hindu, and also justified the crime.
In June 2018, Reuters in a study declared India of one the most unsafe country for women and according to the NCRB data rape of minors is increased by around 82% and 95% of the victims knew their rapists. The accused varying from Godmen to cops, to politicians to your own family members. Women are as vulnerable to crimes against them as they were 5 years back.
Adding fuel to the fire is our entertainment industry where on one side we women are seen portraying strong independent characters in Bollywood movies and on the other side it has normalized eve-teasing and stalking women as romance, where eventually the girl falls in love with her stalker, and not to forget the sexual objectifying of women in songs from being compared to a “tanduri murghi” to doing “gandi baat”, rather than inspiring social change, these songs are subconsciously eternalizing the culture of misogyny, in the young generation, which has been the reason of women's misery for centuries.
But this is not it, in India, the political rhetoric on rape is astonishing: “boys will be boys, sometimes it’s right and sometimes it’s wrong, women should not wear short clothes, women should not go out in the dark or drink alcohol”, these are statements of people in power. When women are raped, and they file a complaint, they are often subjected to humiliation, a woman is asked if she is a virgin or if she was drunk or was she out late in the night drinking and partying wearing a short dress. There is also an increasing number of rape threats that women receive on social media, where men and trolls hide behind the anonymity of the internet and get away with saying the most insensitive thing.
Today we live in times where our Prime Minister introduces schemes like “Beti Bachao, and Beti Padhao”, yet when the daughter of India is raped it is either politicized or goes unreported. Blaming one political party for this will not be a correct way to portray this situation, but crimes against women have increased dramatically in the past 4 years. If your case doesn’t become a national sensation then justice is a dream forgotten.
There is no paucity of appalling stories in India, but I think there has to be a shift in our perspectives as to how we see this. Even though the data about crimes against women is heart-wrenching, I do believe we as Indians have to stand against the injustice. I do believe there have to be laws and strict punishments in place, but I also believe that the problem is bigger than this. There is an urgent need to sensitize our civil society because our humanity is facing the biggest threat right now. If we do not sensitize our society, there is hardly any change that law can bring. People have lost sight of what is good, right, kind and just. And if this continues, the day is not very far where we will lose our humanity.