Subjecting children and women to sexual violence as a strategic move to endorse communal violence is not something new. It is the very core foundation of the patriarchal structure that we all live in.
Women are used as a tool to assert violence and shame other communities, thereby, reasserting their power over them. Whenever a communal riot happens, it is the women who first bear the brunt of the riot. For most, maligning a woman’s body is a very easy task, and if that woman belongs to a marginalised community, the task only becomes easier.
This same scenario is being repeated in the case of an 8-year-old J&K girl, who was raped and murdered by men of all ages – from a juvenile to a 60-year-old – again and again, in a temple. The men were so full of lust that one of the accused travelled from Meerut to rape the child and another wanted to rape her one last time before murdering her.
These are men who claim to be the protectors of religion, attempting to ‘teach a lesson’ to the entire community by raping their women. The question which needs to be asked here is – who decides where this so-called pride/dignity of the entire community lies? Who has the right to associate this fake pride of the community to a women’s body? To a child’s body?
And if this pride of the community is so precious to them, why do they put the responsibility of safeguarding this fake pride on a woman (without her consent), on her body? Why not keep it hidden and locked somewhere, from where it would be difficult for people to crush and break this pride?
Another question which needs to be asked here is of our selective activism and outrage. Why are we so selective when it comes to outraging and protesting even in crimes as heinous as rape and murder? Why does our conscience shake, only selectively, for victims who are urban? Why are we moved, only selectively, when the victim is of a marginalised community? How can we find a way to support the accused and justify the act as has been done in this case?
The rape and murder in the name of religion and the shameless shielding of all the accused by the so-called protectors of the law is a blot on our collective conscience. This communalisation of an act as heinous as this, and the support given to all the accused by the ‘rakshaks’ (protectors) of religions highlight the sickening mentality and the overpowering masculinity that is present in the nation today.
It should make each one of us question our conscience and ask ourselves if this is the new toxic India we are giving rise to by shielding offenders like them. Is this not a proof of our collective failure to provide a safer environment to our children and women?
If we have started communalising rapes (as that of a ‘Hindu woman’ or a ‘Muslim woman’) and have started protecting the rapists in the name of religion and nation, we are definitely failing as a nation, and as humans! Aren’t we?