Shut up about rape: The brutal message in the Unnao rape case's handling reached a family in Barabanki
Parents of a girl who questioned cops on the Unnao rape case did not send her to school, fearing for her safety. Our authorities should hang their heads in shame, if they still can.
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One of the reasons that people seek visibly strict handling of cases of sexual assault is to instil in perpetrators a fear of the law, so that more men are deterred from committing such crimes.
The horrific Unnao rape case and its shocking handling by the police and government have, however, acted as a deterrent — for women.
This case is an example of why women are discouraged from reporting rape at all.
A reflection of how this is playing out in society has surfaced from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh now.
Days after a video of a girl student in Barabanki, questioning a senior UP Police officer over women's security, in the wake of the Unnao rape victim's terrible road accident, went viral, the girl's parents did not send her to school.
A girl student in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, has a question for UP police pic.twitter.com/qCI1nbFzlG— Gajanan Gire (@GajananGire) August 1, 2019
The family apparently fears for the girl's safety.
The girl's father reportedly told The Indian Express, "She is naive and young. Whatever she reads in newspapers and watches on television, she said it. She speaks well and the rest of the school children prodded her."
Will they be able to speak? Or are they meant to shut up about rape? (Photo: IANS)
Many such girls and women will be asked to hush up cases of rape or just refrain from speaking truth to power because the Unnao case has confirmed their worst fears.
The Unnao case is under investigation. It is for the law agencies to establish if the alleged rape indeed happened and if the accident, in which the victim was critically injured, was just an accident or part of a larger conspiracy to silence the voice that accused BJP legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar of rape.
The problem lies in how the case was handled.
The victim reached the police in 2017 with her complaint. An FIR was reportedly filed without naming Sengar as the accused.
The victim's father was taken into custody after she attempted self-immolation. Her father was then beaten up brutally in custody, allegedly by Sengar's brother and police officials.
The case based on which the victim's father was held was filed by Sengar and his men — even as the accused remained free.
Her uncle is also currently in jail. And her aunts were killed in the road accident which the family suffered on Sunday as they returned with their lawyer — also critically injured — from meeting him in prison.
Despite the victim having spoken of such grave threats to her life, the police protection accorded to her was missing at the time of the accident.
Finished: The car in which the Unnao survivor was travelling with her aunts and lawyer. (Photo: Video grab/India Today TV)
Having fought law enforcement agencies, she is now fighting for her life in Lucknow's King George Medical University.
It is thus only natural for parents of the Barabanki girl to fear for her and ask her to not be vocal in the future — many concerned parents would do just that.
That the case has been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also seems hogwash of another level.
It was the CBI that anyway was investigating the case when the accident happened. The agency couldn't pre-empt the accident or even tell anyone why exactly the security personnel was not with the victim when the accident happened.
Now, to the Supreme Court. Any Indian's last hope for justice. A desperate letter that the victim's family wrote to the Chief Justice of India before the accident was lying in the PIL section till July 30 — among 6,800 other letters that were being vetted.
So, the message women should draw from the incident is that even if they were to ask for help, it may never reach the authorities because we, as a society, have no honesty and no seriousness about creating deterrents for rapists.
We would rather deter women from complaining about rape.
That is indeed a very scary message for the women of this country.