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Violence against women: Of liberal and Hindutva fanatics' 'selective' outrage

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

A man walks to the police station at Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, with severed head of his 17-years-old daughter. He admitted openly that he disliked her relationship with another person. The poor girl did not have the option to 'debate' or discuss it with her father. This is not the first incident of its kind. There has been sharp increase in such cases in Uttar Pradesh, which is a matter of grave concern.
As violence against women continues unabated in various parts of India, it is not merely 'outsiders' who go in for such abuse. People don’t hesitate to torment their loved ones in the name of 'honour'. Ayesha, a young aspiring woman in Ahmedabad, felt betrayed by her husband, whom she loved. She committed suicide by jumping in Sabarmati river.
In a second incident, the father of a helplessness daughter in Hatharas, Uttar Pradesh, was killed by a person who was stalking her. This person attacked her father, who wanted to protect his daughter. The daughter saw her father being gunned down by thugs, and the man vanished from the scene.
Then there is the case of a girl kidnapped in Agra. This was followed by Sanghi trolls launching a hate campaign that a Muslim boy had kidnapped her. But later it was found that her own friend, who was in love with had, had done this.
Indeed, Uttar Pradesh appears to be turning a champion in anti-woman violence, and yet there is no word by those who decry West Bengal or Maharashtra for this day in and out.
A more brutal story emerged from Madhya Pradesh's Shiv Puri district, where a girl was raped and assaulted brutally. There is no comment, no condemnation by those who boast of their 'achievements' or claim to speak for women's rights in the ruling BJP.
It would be wrong to say that violence against women has been 'discovered' by BJP or the Sangh Parivar. I am not seeking to look at it through the prism of Congress verses BJP or Hindu verses Muslims, or Dalit verses others. Such a view would grossly undermine feudal characteristic of our society, which cuts across caste, religion and regional lines.
The crisis we are facing today is that our political leaders and parties look upon these issues purely on an 'individual' basis, ignoring age-old 'cultural' issues. It is not that violence was not there earlier, but now it appears to have become more brutal. Also, it is being resisted by women. The problem has aggravated because of selective outrage. This is true of both 'liberal' or 'Hindutva' fanatics. Often, they select cases in order to vilify the other side.
Selective outrage could be seen in the case of Ayesha: The view picked that 'Muslims are like that'. However, nobody cared to look at the religion of the person who is the accused of murdering the father of the girl in Hatharas.
Ayesha was dejected, yet did not blame anyone. She loved the person who betrayed her, so she decided to commit suicide. She did not want to look helpless in front of the man whom she loved. The girl in Hatharas saw her father being killed brutally. She must be in extreme trauma. She spoke loudly and clearly for the death penalty of the person who killed her father.
Supreme leader only speaks about 'positive' things, has never spoken or asked his people to desist from hate and violence
Against this backdrop, one must appreciate the strong condemnation by Asaduddin Owaisi of Ayesha's suicide. Without bringing in any conspiracy theory, he was forthright in calling all the Muslims to treat their daughters better and protect them. However, we have not heard similar condemnation from the 'champions' of Hindutva, who day in and out have been crying hoarse about their 'great culture' even as gunning for a Muslim villain.
Where are we heading? As a society, we are debating to 'correct' others, who are considered 'villains'. Leaders are speaking the language of 'thok denge' and 'thik kar denge' and seek to show their 'valour' in assemblies. 
The supreme leader only speaks about 'positive' things, but has never spoken on asked his people to desist from hate and violence. What kind of leadership is it which has closed its eyes on our social evils? The leadership appears to be enjoying social divisions, even as strengthening the forces which feel women's first duty is to look after their home.
Meanwhile, there is a growing pattern of violent videos being shared everywhere. This surely normalises violence. This normalisation gets strengthened when the media is legitimises it by providing such videos a platform.
Things get worse with the top judiciary asks the rapist to marry the victim. It suggests not just the crisis of our institutions. It is India's cultural crisis in which individual's liberty and choice have become the 'biggest threat' to 'society' or 'nation', and our institutions have failed to protect them.
Each individual is segregated as per his/her caste norms, and the police, the administration, the media and the judiciary have their own prejudices to treat issues. Here, women too are graded, but there is a commonality: We don't want to give them the right to decide or choose.
One must remember: Rights of the marginalised sections as well as women have not been inherited from our 'great culture'. These rights have been given by our Constitution. Yet, the fact is, our institutions have failed to protect the Constitution. They appear to be giving more respect to 'religious books' and 'khaps'.
What is particularly a matter of concern is, our political class makes violence against women an issue when it is suitable to serve their 'interests' by identifying the ‘other’ as the villain. It is time we focused on issues and bring people together, so that supremacy of the Constitution is maintained for the sake of justice, irrespective of caste and religious identities.
Women's rights are human rights and must be respected by all. But will politicians, media and judiciary ponder over issues confronting society, and not express 'outrage' on one selected issues while keeping silent others?
---
*Human rights defender

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