I will not begin my letter by saying that hope you are in a better place, because a better place for you was supposed to be the place where you actually were six years ago, where you had infinite dreams of being the best you can, where you could lead a happy life with your family and your loved ones, where you were supposed to be equal, independent, free and secure far beyond the clutches of a patriarchal society and the perpetrators it daily gives birth to. I certainly don’t think that this was too much to ask for and if we as a society have failed you miserably, then I don’t have the right to comfort you and millions of daughters of India by saying that you are in a better place. We simply cannot hide behind our misogyny and sexism to sell a lie that the precious and brave daughters of India like you are going to heaven, an abode much better than the hell that we have created here.
It has been six years since that horrific December 16th night, a night that was brutal for you and for the millions of daughters of India, a night that reminded them that in a land where the theatrics of treating them as Goddesses unfold is the very same land where not a single one of them is truly secure and that all of them are treated as no more than just a piece of flesh to be pounced upon. I was just one of the many in the crowd back then who held a candle for you with the belief that justice will be done but little did I know that things would only get worse.
Not, a single day has passed since then without the mention of a brutal rape incident in India and Delhi has emerged as the ‘rape capital’ of India. The monsters who violated you have been dealt with by the law partially as even the apex court could not deliver the justice which your mother was looking for. The worst part is that there are still many more monsters who roam freely on the streets and their pathetic and patriarchal mindset makes life miserable for the daughters of India. They are in the family, in schools, on streets, in law and judiciary, in politics and most prominently in religion. They and their rapist mentality of victim blaming, rapist shielding and women bashing has reached alarming levels.
Today, I along with the youth of this country find myself fighting a misogynistic and disturbing trend, a trend of defending and shielding the rapists sometimes in the name of religion and on other occasions simply because they are too influential and have access to the corridors of power. In the year 2018 itself, an eight-year-old child Asifa was brutally raped in Kathua following which, the local politicians and muscle men batted for the accused and in the name of religion did everything in their power to influence fair investigation in the case. If this was not enough, then a father fighting for justice for her daughter in Unnao, a minor girl, who was raped and whose cry for justice fell on deaf ears for two long years was eventually murdered simply because the accused in this case was a BJP MLA, a muscle man from Unnao, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who later smiled at the media cameras because he knew that his political clout would shield him.
Brajesh Sharma, the owner of a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar where over 30 minor girls were repeatedly raped and tortured also just simply smiled at the camera and walked off with ease. Another shelter home in Deoira in Uttar Pradesh had its own gruesome tale to tell, where over twenty minor girls were raped night after night. The stark similarity which Deoria shared with the Muzaffarpur case was that both the shelter homes enjoyed government funding at one point of time highlighting the nexus of politicians and those who claim to be a part of the civil society but are only in it for money and exploitation of those whom they vouch to serve.
The general discourse in today’s times has been diverted from the increasing number of rape cases and the violence against women to the religion and caste of the rapists, leading to selective outrage after carefully examining the religions of the victim and the rapist. In this shielding of rapists, we are dealing with two very grave problems in our society; first being rape and violence against women which emanates from a highly patriarchal society like ours and is a social problem which can be only tackled by an overhaul of the social fabric of our country. However, the sad part is that currently we are moving in an exactly opposite direction with the communalization and politicization of rapes and violence against women, and therefore the problem has now soared to alarming levels.
The second big problem is the extreme power which politicians enjoy in our country which makes them believe that they are above the law and therefore they blatantly smile at the camera and challenge us to stop them if we can. They know that we shall not stand united for justice because they will simply say that rape occurred in a temple or in a mosque and in a minute we shall be divided, questioning everything that justice stands for.
Our society has forgotten that rapists, murderers and criminals have no religion and that there is no holy book which encourages such barbaric acts and if such a book does exist then it is an unholy book. I think the least we can do for justice for our daughters is to stop getting divided on communal lines and speak in one voice for all the daughters of India and their safety and only then this disturbing trend of rapists getting shielded in the name of religion, castes and politics will come to an end.
I would end my letter by apologizing to you. I am sorry that we had let you down six years back and I am equally sorry that we are letting you and millions of other women down even today. I am sorry that instead of changing for the better, we as a society have changed for the worse but I am hopeful and your courage gives me hope that the youth of this country shall unite and ensure that one day we shall no more let you down and we shall no more let the daughters of India down.