By Mayank Jain:
Two teenage girls, 12 and 15 years of age get gang raped during the night and their bodies are found hanging on the village tree in the morning. The accused are from an influential background so the police takes hours to contemplate and they are finally forced to register an FIR after the public pressure mounts. This is the story of a small village Badaun, in Uttar Pradesh.
After multiple visits from politicians, ministers and opposition, it is business as usual for the criminals. The rape incidents have only increased in the state, which has seen over 6 cases of rape in a short span of just 7 days. However, the intent of finding a solution forÂ this omnipresent danger toÂ girls is nowhere in the picture. Apart from lip service and perfunctory visits, there’s too little that the ministers are doing in these troubled times.
Mulayam Singh, leader of the ruling Samajwadi Party has already reiterated in one of his pre-election speeches that “Handing death sentence for rape is not fair… boys make mistakes,” and his party will work for “changes in the law” when they come to the power. The changes, apparently meant to empower men who make ‘mistakes’ haven’t happened yet but there has been no effort to put an end to the ever rising crime toll in the state, either.
Women safety became a critical issue of national and international importance after the horrific and tragic 16th December, 2012 incident of rape in Delhi where the victim died after days of struggle in the hospital. The incidents have started to receive more light these days and the civil society is well prepared to fight the menace. Only if the polity supported them. On one hand, there are millions of pamphlets embossed with shiny words about the party’s commitment to women safety and an ‘equal’ society and on the other, there is constant ignorance of the jungle like situation in the largest state of the country where women and children are being massacred just because they don’t have toilet facilities available at their homes and rapists lurk on the outskirts, waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
The reality however, tends to lie towards the latter in most of the cases. Police departments have adopted corruption and lax attitude towards such cases which are perceived as ‘mistakes’, as a way of life. They would rather decline to register a case against an influential person than file an FIR and be transferred or face the wrath of ‘disappointing’ the leadership. Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer was transferred 45 times because he was brave enough to raise his voice about wrongdoings of Robert Vadra, DLF and Haryana Government.
The party documents released (reprinted, in some cases) every election might have the ideal solutions to each issue, but in front of the widespread apathy that our politicians display at times, they just remain words on paper.
Rape Crisis Centres have been demanded by one and all in the country after the flurry of incidents that have happened across the country but they were nowhere in the sight until media focused attention on finding solution to the issues instead of harping about their horrific characteristics. Delhi, the national capital has also received the unfortunate distinction of being called the ‘rape capital’ but there’s hardly any change in the attitude of authorities at a bigger level. The problem of rape can’t be solved by just better policing but they will have to share the blame if they fail to follow onÂ with cases and the people who put pressure from above, should be held accountable too.
Our politicians seem to have woken up from their slumber, now that the Badaun case has been condemned by even the United Nations in a statement that reads, “There should be justice for families of the two teenaged girls… Violence against women is a human rights issue, not a women’s issue. Violence against women is preventable, not inevitable… The Badaun incident highlights the dangers women in India are exposed to due to lack of toilets.”
There is a beeline comprising of almost every well-known politician to ‘examine’ the situation or ‘support’ the families. Others are doing their best at Tweeting about it and offering their 140 characters in solidarity to the families affected. One is inclined to wonder if they are really too naÃ¯ve to know that on ground efforts on preventing further incidents is what the hour demands and not just hollow words spoken to gain political brownie points.
Maneka Gandhi, the newly appointed Women and Child Development minister has however promised Rape Crises Centres by the end of December this year and promised action, “I will see to it that there are no more Badauns,” she said adding, “I don’t want to go there until I have done something to fix the situation.”
Whether these Centres will come to life or not, remains to be seen. But some things can be quickly fixed. First, police force should take back its authority from their dark masters and work for the people. If everyone speaks up, nobody will be able to silence them. Second, the politicians should stop playing ball with such sensitive incidents and make sure they offer some serious thought before throwing words out of their mouth. Third, the ministers need to stop being autocratic and let the nation voice its anger when they have failed to deliver in the first place. Akhilesh Yadav government has been very opposed to criticism from the beginning and water cannons were used against BJP workers protesting against the rapes outside the party’s office.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav should think of the kind of world he is creating for the women in Uttar Pradesh. When asked about the law and order situation in the state by a journalist, he shot back saying “I hope you have not faced any danger!” So, perhaps people should wait for their turn to face danger and then oppose the wrongs by the SP government.
The situation is as much about law and order as much it is about the culture we inculcate and the society we co create and inhabit. It is high time that all misogynistic ministers go and re-look at their stands and realize that people can’t be left in dark for long. Hopefully, one day as a nation, we will grow up to the realities and see through the lies politicians tell us and stop electing them. Until then, can we all try being a little more sensitive, maybe?
To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter at @mayank1029