Skip to main content

When innocent child is raped, we need to act fast, preserve little dignity we have kept for Bharat Mata!

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*

A few days ago, amidst nationwide grief and anger over the rising child rape cases, the Union Cabinet said it has begun the process to amend law to introduce death penalty for rape of minors below 12 year of age. In a letter, submitted to the Supreme Court last Friday, the Government stated that it has started the process to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce death penalty for rape of minors until twelve years of age. The Supreme Court was expected to hear the matter on 27 April, but it has apparently been deferred.
In the last few weeks, the country has witnessed one of the most sordid chapters in her history. Rapes and murders were unraveled -- in Unnao, Kathua, Assam, Surat and elsewhere. Almost every day a new rape incident is brought to light. The horrendous dimension of these rapes are that the victims are mostly minors, the perpetrators of these heinous acts are, in most cases, powerful men -- either members of or connected with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); the families of the victims have had desperately to run from pillar to post seeking justice and above all, the law and order mechanism which should have acted with a sense of urgency and expediency have done all they can to deny justice to the families of the victims and to try to sweep these unacceptable crimes under the carpet.
There has been a natural groundswell of outrage against these despicable acts. Hundreds of protest rallies and candlelight vigils have taken place all over the country. Social media is filled with condemnations and comments about what is happening. Thousands have changed their personal profile and/or their DPs to the face of Asifa  the little innocent girl who was brutally gang-raped and murdered.
Large numbers supported the hashtag #justice_4_Asifa. Because of the pressure from social media, some of the so-called mainstream media in the country have had no choice but to give coverage to these incidents. Leading international newspapers had incisive editorials on these terrible incidents. Narendra Modi who was then on a visit to the United Kingdom and other countries, had to face plenty of public protests (these were very conveniently blacked out by most Indian media).
"The New York Times", in an unprecedented editorial by its Editorial Board on 16 April 2018, said:
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India tweets frequently and considers himself a talented orator. Yet he loses his voice when it comes to speaking out about the dangers faced by women and minorities who are frequent targets of the nationalist and communal forces that are part of the base of his Bharatiya Janata Party... Mr. Modi said that these cases had brought shame on the country and that our daughters will definitely get justice. But his remarks ring hollow because he waited so long to talk about the cases and spoke in broad generalities  describing the crimes as incidents being discussed since past two days. He has taken a similar approach in the past when addressing cases in which vigilante groups affiliated with his political movement have attacked and killed Muslims and Dalits  members of Indias lowest caste  who they falsely accused of killing cows,which are sacred to Hindus”.
It was indeed an editorial with a scathing attack on Modi. What the editorial fail to mention was that in 2002 Modi has Chief Minister of Gujarat presided over the Gujarat carnage, one of the bloodiest chapters of post independent India. More than two thousand Muslims were killed during that carnage besides several women were brutally raped. Raping women and children has often been a weapon of fascist forces. Ever since right wing majoritarianism has begun ruling India the culture of rape is on the ascendancy. There is no doubt about that.
A group of activists from Gujarat in an open letter to the President of India wrote:
"The present cases of rape  Kathua, Unnao, Surat, Assam, and many many more are indeed an indictment of our governments, our law and order machinery and us as a people. We recognize that these are not the first nor will they be the last, alas! While we condemn all and every such incident, we feel constrained to single out the two incidents of Unnao and Kathua. The perpetrators of the crime are political persons with political affiliations. Unnao and Kathua rape incidents are political, no more no less.
On 25 April, Asaram Bapu, a godman from Gujarat was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 16-year old girl in 2013. Asaram Bapu has powerful political connections, which include the Prime Minister and other bigwigs of the BJP. The grapevine says that there will be an appeal in a Higher Court; since there are so many pliable Judges everywhere (as we have seen in so many of the high-profile cases recently) Asaram Bapu will certainly be set free sometime.
It is not without reason that in a much-publicized letter to the Prime Minister, a group of about fifty retired bureaucrats wrote:
"We had hoped that as someone sworn to upholding the Constitution, the Government that you head and the party to which you belong would wake up to this alarming decline, take the lead in stemming the rot and reassure everyone, especially the minorities and vulnerable sections of society that they need not fear for their life and liberty. This hope has been destroyed. Instead, the unspeakable horror of the Kathua and the Unnao incidents shows that the Government has failed in performing the most basic of the responsibilities given to it by the people. 
"We write to you not just to express our collective sense of shame and not just to give voice to our anguish or lament and mourn the death of our civilisational values -- but to express our rage. Rage over the agenda of division and hate your party and its innumerable, often untraceable offshoots that spring up from time to time, have insidiously introduced into the grammar of our politics, our social and cultural life and even our daily discourse. It is that which provides the social sanction and legitimacy for the incidents in Kathua and Unnao."
Death penalty is no deterrent! It has been empirically proved world over, that where the Death Penalty exists, the crime rate is higher. The Governments death penalty ordinance is a pitiable ploy! If the Government is serious about tackling the culture of rape in the country- it should first change the minds and the attitudes of those who subscribe to their ideology- and to ensure stringent and exemplary punitive measures for those who desecrate the dignity of women, specially of the girl child.
The Gujarat group of social activists in the above-mentioned open letter also state:
“You have given consent to the recent Ordinance of commuting death sentence to sexual offender those guilty of raping children under the age of 12. It will make no difference because our conviction rate is just 3% in crimes under POCSO Act. If 97 % of rapists are getting away scot-free, it makes no difference if the maximum punishment is the death penalty.
"To reiterate, according to data gathered by the National Criminal Research Bureau (NCRB), the conviction rate of those accused of sexual crimes against girls in 2015 was only 34%. Of the 5361 trials completed in 2015, 1843 ended in conviction, while 3518 led to the acquittal or discharge of the accused. People are not afraid of laws because they think legal action can be influenced and has loophole. The trial of rape cases be held in Fast Track Courts. What is necessary is the police and judicial reforms to increase the conviction rate.  Otherwise, the Ordinance may become an eyewash, a refuge of the Government in death penalty for child rape.
"What is more disturbing and ironical is that there are many in Government who are defending the rapists. And so, we, the undersigned citizens, would like to urge upon you to ponder deeply into these points and direct the government and its administration to function in a manner that creates a conducive atmosphere for the delivery of Justice and in the long run, for the establishment of society which is free from rapes, where dignity of women is ensured”.
What is sadly and totally lacking is the political will to deal with this serious sickness which seems to have reached epidemic proportions. The culture of rape and murder, seems to have become an integral part of todays' way of proceeding.
The national outrage is certainly justified, but perhaps the only way to halt this culture of death and bring about change, is to ensure that the party of rapists and murderers, do not succeed in the forthcoming elections! Rape is a heinous crime. When anyone is raped, particularly a little innocent child, Bharat Mata (Mother India) is being raped! We need to hang our heads down in shame! We also need to act fast in order to preserve the little dignity we have kept for Bharat Mata!
---
*Works with the Jesuit Refugee Service on Advocacy and Communications, in the Middle East, is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

Anonymous said…
We absolutely love your blog and find many of your post's to be what precisely I'm looking for.
Would you offer guest writers to write content for you personally?
I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write
with regards to here. Again, awesome website!

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.