Unnao Rape Case: The Unanswered Questions
Is this the price to pay for demanding justice?
The spine-chilling horror and trauma of the 2012 gang rape case in Delhi still haunts me. I still feel it, every time I crossed Munirka.
As a young M.Phil scholar at JNU in 2012, I could sense the aberration, the contrast. My campus stood for women’s rights, empowerment and safety - while just 10 minutes away, the blood-curdling horror reflected that I lived in utopia, utterly.
In the past 7 years, I have witnessed ultra-nationalism entrenching Indian politics. Gender-based violence often not being reported.
As I age, I do not even have the will to think about justice.
The ignominy, pain and trauma of sexual violence makes statistics in the media, ocassionally. But more often, the egregious rape cases are not even footnotes in our memory. We go for protests, have candle-light marches, shout till the wee hours of the morning. But slowly, we forget.
The same pattern. Atrocity after atrocity, as justice hides in a corner, weeping at its own fate.
We were once again reminded of this helplessness on Sunday when the Unnao rape survivor was attacked, again.
The car in which she was travelling with her two aunts and lawyer was suddenly hit by an over-speeding truck in Rae Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. Once again, she is battling for her life. As you are reading this, the 19-year-old is fighting for every breath, on the ventilator. The deadly accident has caused her extensive fractures on her leg, collarbone, arm and ribs.
If she survives, she would wake up to know that her two aunts died on-the-spot. The lawyer fighting the legal battle is also in a critical condition. Last year, her father died in jail after being tortured and violently abused. Her mother was charged falsely for ‘misinterpreting’ her age.
Is this the price to pay for demanding justice?
Is this the price to pay for raising one’s voice against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar?
The ghastly silence reveals the reality.
The police protection granted to her was flawed. In fact, her movements were allegedly reported to the BJP MLA, who has been booked for criminal conspiracy (120-B). Fresh FIRs have been lodged against 15-20 unnamed people. The truck driver and owner have been arrested. The CBI might intervene in investigating this matter further.
Meanwhile, Yogi Adityanath’s cabal remains silent.
There are several disturbing realities within the Unnao rape case, which, if not dealt with, will continue to haunt India.
Firstly, the victim was only 17-years-old when raped, violently and repeatedly. Unfortunately, Section 354 of Indian Penal Code aims at ‘unnatural sex’ while Section 375 is on rape. But we do not have strong laws to deal with sexual abuse of minors/children.
Secondly, when the rape survivor’s father was arrested under the Arms Act, what credible evidence was scrutinised? Why was he abused and tortured, later killed in jail whilst in custody? Why was no one held accountable?
Thirdly, as the alleged connections reveal, how could the BJP MLA, who is already jailed, orchestrate the pre-mediated murder to eliminate the family of the victim? How and why did he know about her movements, if she had 7 security personnel for her protection? Also, how is this link now known to the media and police?
Fourthly, even if the UP Police allows CBI to further investigate, what is the guarantee that the MLA won’t get off scot free? The victim’s family had complained to the police after they received threats and intimidation, but why was a FIR under Section 506 for criminal intimidation filed only now, after the accident? Who are these new 15-20 unnamed men who have been added to the list?
Fifthly, we do not know if the victim will survive, even if she is air-lifted from Lucknow to Delhi? What new kind of protection, counselling and recuperation will be given to her, knowing that she is not safe, at all? What kind of justice would be bestowed on the criminal nexus of police and politicians in Uttar Pradesh that ignored, abused and jeopardised the entire case?
Or what kind of justice?
Any kind of justice?
Do we really live in a society where we measure our women empowerment through slogans like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ which are a mere façade? I don’t even expect our political establishment to speak on this case.
As a woman in India, there are times, I do not feel safe. When I have to lodge a complaint against physical, verbal or mental harassment. It has always been a fight to demand my protection, safety.
But what about women who cannot fight?
In today’s India, when ultra-nationalism is intensely patriarchal, how do we women fight? Will the #MeToo movement save me, if I am not violated by a famous journalist or politician? Will the women’s rights organisations remember my name if I do not have evidence of the crime committed against me?
For how long do I need to fight battles every day for choosing justice?
There are no answers for these questions. For those who suffer, daily with anonymous names, have no place to turn to, no law to protect them.
In today’s India, if a woman is raped, it is still the fault of how she dressed. It is still the fault of her character. And if, your perpetrator is a politician, then even the millions of Gods in our ‘sacred’ country, cannot save you.