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

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

Pro-corporate? New GoI circular 'blatant attempt' to control Adivasi lives, livelihoods

By Hemant Das*  The Indian Community Activists Network (ICAN) condemns the anti-forest dwellers circular jointly issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the (Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), Government of India (GoI) on July 6. 

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Meaningful? Punjab govt's debt waiver offer for agricultural workers, landless farmers

By Dr Gian Singh*    On July 14, 2021, the Punjab government announced that it would hold a state level function on August 20 to waive the debt of agricultural labourers and landless farmers(pure tenants) of Punjab to the tune of Rs 590 crore. Prior to the 2017 elections, the Congress party had promised in its election manifesto and public speeches that the Punjab government would waive all the institutional and non-institutional debt of farmers and agricultural labourers of Punjab.

Why no human rights mechanism in South Asia, but other regions in world have them?

Counteview Desk A civil rights group, Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), has floated an online petition  titled "Governments of South Asia: Time for the Establishment of a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism", stating that South Asian states should work towards the establishment of a regional mechanism for human rights at the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) SAARC level in order to create better conditions for peace in South Asia.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

Covid impact on menstrual cycles? Young girls 'relapsing' back to unhygienic old-cloth rags

By Dr Sudeshna Roy*  Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in health and economic shock. Combating this public health crisis has diverted development resources earmarked for adolescents and the youth. India; having world’s second largest population; 1.38 crores as per UN mid-year 2020 estimation, also shelters the largest adolescents and young adult population, which at 243 million constitute 20% of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescent population.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".