RASHMI OBEROI | 17 JANUARY, 2018
Hey Mr CM, Is Rape Now the New Normal For You in Haryana?
Haryana rapes make a mockery of India’s Constitution
Haryana, already infamous for being the state with the worst sex ratio, has now earned the dubious distinction of also topping the country in the number of gang rapes.
A 15-year-old girl in Haryana, missing since last week after she left home for tuition classes, was found dead on Saturday with 19 severe injuries to her body and signs of unspeakable torture. Her liver and lungs had been ruptured and an object had been jammed into her body, doctors said. The assault has been compared to the Delhi gang-rape in which a 23 year old medical student - who came to be called Nirbhaya, died after being gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus in December 2012.
This and two more rapes have jolted Haryana just days after the state hailed its ‘Beti Bachao’ – also known as the Save Daughters campaign following an improvement in the gender ratio.
In Panipat, an eleven year old girl was raped and strangled after she was kidnapped when she had left her house to dump garbage. A 22 year old woman was kidnapped and gang-raped for two hours in a SUV in Faridabad the other evening. Last month, a six year old girl was raped and killed in the state's Hisar district. She had also been tortured with a stick.
It is appalling that the government and local administration is doing nothing to bring such horrific crimes to an end. Unless stringent punishments are brought in and the guilty are charged for their offences, there will be no change. We need fast-track courts that deliver lethal punishments that are carried off instantaneously and not dragged on for years.
Isn’t it sad and a matter of shame that every young girl and woman in and around Delhi is time and again warned, in fact nearly every day about the dangers that lurk for a woman moving around alone? Actually, it is better to just stay home and not go out at night because Delhi and its vicinity are dangerous. Is my India as misogynistic and backwards as being assessed lately? The bitter truth is that India has just gotten worse for women.
Gang rapes are not isolated events. Men molest, cackle and constantly disrespect women in public places all the time. Unfortunately, this is a known fact to a lot of women who have either travelled or lived on their own. The reality that any woman has to fear getting onto an overcrowded bus or train filled with men because she feels she will be touched inappropriately says something about the lack of protections, legal and otherwise, for women in our civil society. Men are not punished for sex crimes or sexual harassment. Instead they are protected by a corrupt unsympathetic system.
Had the explosive international attention not shamed India for its twisted politics and lack of policies protecting women, Nirbhaya would have died quietly, like all the others whose attacks have gone unnoticed. If there are no real consequences as a result of a lack of leadership, corruption, cronyism, sycophancy due to class and caste and all around lawlessness, then obviously there will be men who wield their power by abusing and assaulting women.
The wider problem is the one that needs resolution. How do you change deep-seated societal misogyny? Indian attitudes about what it means to have a girl have not changed. Men and women inside and outside of India still feel disappointment when a girl is born. Now there is the real rub. Killing a girl just for being born a girl is both the beginning of preferential treatment for boys and the beginning of a misogyny that is sure to break down all levels of respect for all women. If there is no respect for the life of a female infant, then surely there is no respect for the life of the woman who gave birth to her. It’s cyclical.
Didn’t the Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr. Khattar promise to protect every citizen of his state? He has failed not only as an administrative head but in his duty to protect women and give them their basic rights. When will the administration swing into action and bring the culprits to book with the harshest of punishments? When will his so-called police provide a safe environment to its citizens?
There are unending questions to these horrific crimes – but no answers and no damage control being done. It means that the government doesn’t care about women getting abused, violated and killed. Which brings me to a stark reality: Why does rape not move the Indian political class? Why are they unable to deal with it?
Haryana, in particular, is notorious for one of the worst sex ratios in the country. Rape in Haryana is not just a law and order issue, it is society at war – a section of the population at threat before they are born, and every second after they are born. This sick mentality is the reason women’s existence is so precarious.
For women to be safe we need a complete change in the social mind-set…a transformation and law enforcement agencies who will be made accountable for all the crimes and disorder situations. Women do have a right to move about without fear and the right to restitution if violated. The Constitution guarantees equal rights to every citizen. Every rape makes a mockery of this right, and is a blot on those entrusted with upholding the Constitution.
To bring about change, we need the political class to wake up. They need to lead for once. They need to restore that sense of faith and belief that has been shaken and ensure that women feel safe once again. And they need to do it… Now!
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