By Kartik Bansal:
Haryana, the state that has given so many Olympic medals to this country and made us proud, now seems to be embarrassing us in front of the world. In a country where we worship ‘maa durga‘, there are people who are openly discriminating between girls and boys, in such a manner that girls are finding it difficult to step outside their houses. The All India Democratic Women’s Association said that the low sex ratio (877 females per 1000 males) is partly responsible for the number of recent rape cases in Haryana. The sex ratio in Haryana is so low that the boys are not finding girls for marriage and it therefore creates an environment which is unsafe for women.
Fifteen rape cases in thirty-one days have been registered and most of the victims are from the Dalit community. Khap is a body of village elders which control social norms in rural areas. The Khap panchayat (a kangaroo court in a village) leader Sube Singh declared that the marriageable age for girls should be lowered to fifteen from eighteen in order to prevent these rapes. Mr. Chautala (the chief of INLD) justified this statement that we should learn from the past, especially the Mughal era where people would marry off their daughters to save them from atrocities. His comments came after Sonia Gandhi strongly contradicted the views of the Khap after she visited the family of a victim who set herself on fire post the rape, in Narwana. Sonia Gandhi reacted to the Khap’s statement saying that it is the judiciary that ought to decide and not the Khaps.
Mr. Chautala’s comments were strongly condemned by people all over the country and this surely is going to harm his political career as people today understand the difference between right and wrong. Girija Vyas, former president of the National Commission for Women said that Mr. Chautala should not have given out such statements. Women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari vehemently said that his statement is condemnable. He does not even know the rule of the law. Surely, Mr. Chautala has downgraded his and his party’s image by targeting only girls. He did not even utter a word as to how men should behave with women and treat them.
Now the police have confirmed that they have caught the culprits and are taking appropriate actions against them. Only Dalit girls were targeted, so is there any political benefit behind this keeping in mind the upcoming elections? These questions still remain unanswered.
After much criticism, Mr. Chautala has taken a U-turn on this issue stating that he was just quoting the Rohtak’s Khap view and added that this was only the Panchayat’s view and that only the law has the power to decide and implement the age issue if necessary. He said that the Khap had been dragged unnecessarily into the matter. Surely, the whole debate has tarnished the image of the INLD in front of the public and they will have to bear the consequences of the same.
As common people, we want our government to be pro-active in implementing strong laws against rape cases so that no one dares to do that in future. Special cells for women and helpline numbers should be activated on a 24*7 basis to curb such kind of immoral activities. Another absurd statement was issued by the Congress Hisar district spokesman Dharambir Goyat who recently said that in ninety percent of the cases, the girls go with consent but later on they find that person has criminal intents and things therefore become uncontrolled. We need to educate girls / boys and implement sex education in schools/ colleges, a debate that has been going on for many years now.
In my view, this whole issue might be a political conspiracy, as the elections are coming and to win this battle, one can do anything. Some questions are still unanswered: why were only Dalit girls targeted? Why did the Khap intervene only to ask for lowering of the age limit when girls are not physically and mentally mature till fifteen, something that medical science has already proven? We hope that our police will punish the culprits soon and the court will enact a strong law this time around. Whether it is a political issue or the government’s responsibility, we should all be concerned about it and do whatever is required. Girls are our sisters, mothers and daughters and men are incomplete without them.