Why isn't rape of a minor horrifying us all?

Clearly, the young female body is a site of much violence and India's daughters are falling prey to a deeply misogynistic society.

 |  3-minute read |   17-10-2015
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A two-and-half-year-old was gang-raped by two goons on a motorbike in Delhi's Nangloi area while she was watching the Ram Leela. On the same ill-fated night a five-year-old was raped by three men in east Delhi's Anand Vihar. They took the girl home on the pretext of giving her some sweets. Though the five-year-old was injured badly, the offenders have been arrested. The victim the the first case is, however, critical as the perpetrators of the heinous crime roam free.

That the rape of minors continues to mount in the capital city is in itself a matter to be ashamed of. What makes it worse is the callous attitude of the men in power who have claimed to have been moved by the growing incidents of harassment of women in the city and have made tall claims of making the capital safe for its "pretty women". While Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is washing his hands clean and blaming the prime minister (has he forgotten the days of his passionate protests after the Nirbhaya rape in which he had openly attacked Sheila Dikshit for being insensitive?). On the other end of the spectrum, politicians from the BJP are coming up with ill-timed witticisms like "minor being raped is a minor incident for Modi or Kejriwal".

It is quite sickening to see a matter as sensitive as the rape of innocent girls meriting this kind of insensitive and misogynistic response from politicians. Instead of playing a blame game and trying to point fingers at each other, it would be much more constructive if they went to console the families of the victims, got the police to work towards finding the offenders on highest priority and put in place stringent laws that would not only shame and punish the rapists but compensate the victims' families and bring the victims justice.

In these two incidents there can certainly be no talk of "oh, she asked for it" or "she was dressed inappropriately", which is the first line of defence for most people trying to explain away rape. But we find that callousness can be inventive and now the slogan is that it was "a minor incident!" On the contrary, the stand of both the state and the Centre should clearly be one of empathy and forthrightness, but instead, it has become a circus of absurd accusation.

When a child is raped it impacts their entire life and psyche. Unlike a wound that one gets while playing in which the marks fade after years, the marks of social stigma left on the child and the shame that society piles onto the victim, rather than the perpetrator, is so huge that the child needs intensive care, rather than this callous attitude.

In a rare incident of women indulging in public shaming, a 15-year-old girl was stripped naked and filmed by a group of women in Sewri, Mumbai. The girl committed suicide. The wrath fell upon the innocent offspring of the woman who was reportedly indulging in an illicit affair with the husband of another woman, Jaya, who took her "revenge" on the young girl.

Clearly, the young female body is a site of much violence and India's daughters are falling prey to a deeply misogynistic society and we, as the custodians of the city's safety, need to put our money where our mouth is. It's not enough to instal CCTV cameras and put up check posts... we need sensitive people at the end of those posts who will hear the cries of the anguished rather than poke fun at them and come up with quick one-liners.

It is not enough for the chief minister to say "What is the PM doing?" Perhaps he should reflect a bit and ask himself, "What am I doing?" After all, he was elected because of his progressive politics on women's rights and other issues - it is time for him to prove his mettle.

Writer

Archana Dalmia Archana Dalmia @archanadalmia

The writer is a columnist for Mail Today.

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