Delhi Rapes With Impunity, Uber Cab Service Hit
Woman raped by Uber driver
NEW DELHI: A woman hired a Uber cab, an international chain that is working well in countries like the United States and UK, to drop her home after a party. Clearly secure she dozed off to find herself in a secluded spot. She tried to raise an alarm but was gagged and raped by the driver who is now absconding. He has been arrested in Mathura where he was hiding in a wedding party.
A notice has been served to the Uber taxi service. This is yet another blot on the ‘rape capital’ of not just India but of the world with most western countries having issued travel advisories to their citizens not to visit india because of the violence against women, and the danger of rape.
Despite protests and laws the violence continues, while the police and the politician watch helplessly and as the women organisations have always said, even happily.
In this case the police should be able to arrest the driver, as Uber has the records, and the woman had the presence of mind to take a mobile picture shot of the number plate.
When the two Dalit girls were raped and murdered in Uttar Pradesh The Citizen had run an article on how the politician, across the spectrum, helps create a culture of impunity where violence against women is encouraged and not deterred. The Love Jihad call sinceby the right wing organisations has allowed individuals, khap panchayats and caste based organisations to clamp down further on their women, and use the societal threat of violence to curb them.
We reproduce the article here as it records statements by different political leaders that The Citizen believes go a long way in promoting sexual violence, and protecting the perpetrators through an established culture of impunity. KALKI RAO wrote: In a shocking incident on May 28, two dalit girls, aged 15 and 14 were gang raped and murdered, their bodies found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district. Adding insult to grievous injury, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav made the headlines when he responded to a reporter who asked for a comment on the Badaun case with a shocking, “you are safe, why do you worry?”
The UP Chief Minister, however, is not the first Indian politician to make blatantly insensitive statements that are derogatory to women. Akhilesh’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, while addressing a rally in Moradabad on April 10, said " Rape accused should not be hanged. Boys make mistakes." " Citing the example of Shakti Mills gang rape, where three rapists were arrested, he said " …efforts will be made to change such a law, so that those misusing it are punished. Those filing false reports will also be taken to task."
On April 11, a day after the remarks made by Mulayam Singh Yadav, SP State president Abu Azmi said, " If a woman is caught ( in a rape case ), then both she and the boy should be punished. In India, there is death penalty for rape, but when there's consensual sex outside marriage, there's no death penalty against women".
Azmi’s statements created an uproar on twitter and other social networking sites. Later, Azmi offered a foot-in-mouth clarification saying that his comments were not in reference to the Shakti Mills case. "I never said that the photojournalist who was raped at the Shakti Mills should be hanged too. Here, she was not the culprit, but in many cases where sex happens by consent and then the girl complains of rape, both men and women should be punished".
These recent statements have led to a debate on the culture of impunity, where political dismissal of crimes against women encourages perpetrators and discourages victims from speaking out.
The UP politicians, are of course, not alone in their gender insensitivity. In January 2009, after the Mangalore pub attack on women, then Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa created a stir when instead of unequivocally condemning the attack, he said that he wanted to "end the culture of boys and girls roaming around in malls holding hands".
Ashok Gehlot then said that the pub and mall culture in India should be banned. He said "Because of liquor culture, over 6000 rape cases were reported in Rajasthan when the BJP was in power. We don't want this to happen."
On July 28 2012, the Hindu Jagarane Vedike, a right-wing group, on a home stay in Mangalore where a birthday party was taking place, perpetuated a violent attack. 12 boys and 5 girls were stripped, beaten and molested. The group’s activists claimed that the youngsters were drinking alcohol and were involved in "indecent activities".
Later, the State Women's Commission Chairperson Pramila Nesargi said " If you see the larger picture, those who beat up the girls were not entirely at fault. If you see a woman trying to jump into the well, you will not have time to think whether she was clad or not. This was a similar case. Won't you beat a child if she does a mistake ? Necessity knows no law." She also demanded that the alcohol consumption at parties be banned.
Nesargi’s comments received flak additionally for her role as the Women’s Commission Chairperson, but others in similar positions have echoed Nesargi’s position. The NCW ( National Commission for Women ) Chairperson Mamta Sharma on July 17, 2012, pinning the blame for crimes against women on women’s dress and mannerisms, said " Be comfortable, but at the same time be careful about how you dress… Aping the West blindly is eroding our culture and causing such crimes to happen ".
Another prominent member of a body meant to serve women, NCP leader and Maharashtra Women’s Commission member Asha Mirge in reference to the December New Delhi gang rape, questioned why the girl was out with a friend late at night. Mirge went on to warn women to remain careful about the way they dress, lest they invite such incidents.
Women’s dress and conduct has been a unifying theme in a large number of statements regarding violence and discrimination against women. On July 21, 2012, The then Madhya Pradesh Industries minister Kailash Vijavargiya said "Women's fashion, lifestyle and conduct should be in accordance with Indian culture… women should not wear clothes that provoke others ( to misbehave with them )." Referring to the Guwahati molestation case he also said " Women should dress in such a way that they invoke respect in others. However, unfortunately women are dressing provocatively which is leading to deviation in society."
It’s not just the politicians who reflect this discriminatory mind-set. A sting operation carried out by Tehelka was done on Delhi NCR police officials over two weeks asking about their opinions on rape victims. One police official by the name of Dharamveer Singh who is the SHO of Indrapuram said " It's very rare that a girl is forcefully picked up by 10 boys. A girl who gets into a car with boys is never innocent. If she does, she definitely has a relationship with at least one of them". Sunil Kumar, Inspector of the Delhi Police said " If a girl living in Delhi does not want this trauma, she will not encourage it. No rape in Delhi can happen without the girl's provocation.
On July 10, 2011, the former Delhi Police Commissioner, B.K. Gupta said " You cannot drive alone at 2am on Delhi's roads and then claim that the Capital is unsafe. Then you need to take someone along." He believed that women who travel with a companion would be safe, proved wrong by the December 2012 Delhi rape in addition to numerous other less publicised but equally condemnable incidents.
Further, India’s judiciary has also demonstrated the same patriarchal disposition. On January 10, 2006, a labourer by the name of Ramkishan Harijan sodomised a 10 month old child. On January 1, 2008, The Bombay High Court reduced his sentence of 10 years to 7 years on the ground that he " lost control over himself as he was living away from his family. "
These comments, a reflection of a dominant discourse that pins the blame for violence on the woman - for her dress, conduct, interests and company, has led to criticism for perpetuating a culture of impunity that emboldens criminals and discourages victims from speaking up.