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

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

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.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Dalit Hindi professor intimidated, harassed by saffron brigade: 400 activists, academics

Counterview Desk  Over 400 academics and activists have expressed alarm at the Lucknow University ‘protests’ on May 10 against Dr Ravi Kant, associate professor of Hindi and a Dalit, stating it is nothing but “intimidation and abuse” over his remarks on the online channel Satya Hindi, which were taken out of context and made viral on social media. “We are even more concerned that such an incident should occur within the confines a university campus, where free speech and expression without fear must ideally be the norm. Violence and intimidation over differences of opinion should never occur in a university”, the statement regrets, asking the authorities at the university and the Uttar Pradesh government to assure him and his family “protection from further harassment or intimidation.” Text: We are a group of academics and activists deeply concerned by the public heckling and intimidation of Dr. Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well known Dalit scholar, on the premises of t