Hyderabad Rape And Murder Case: Why Do We Take Action Only After A Crime Is Committed?

Is This Incident Proof Of The Failure Of Our Society?

The gang-rape and murder of a 26-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian shook the nation last week. But are we really surprised?

The victim noticed a punctured tire as she went to her vehicle to return home from work a little after 8 p.m. She was about to leave her two-wheeler at the toll plaza, and take a cab home when two men approached her and offered help to get her vehicle repaired.

The woman was then ambushed and dragged into the bushes by the accused, barely 50 meters from Tondupally toll plaza, behind a line of trucks, that was parked near the road. Her charred body was then found under an underpass the next morning.

The four accused, Mohammed Arif, Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu, Jollu Shiva, and Jollu Naveen, have been arrested in the case, and they have confessed to committing the offence. The accused doused the body after raping the doctor, and it was reported, that two out of them had returned to the site to check whether the body was completely charred beyond recognition. The police claimed that the four accused were arrested within 24 hours of the crime.

As soon as people were informed about the incident through different sources, including social media; sorrow, grief, and anger, engulfed them. Citizens across the nation erupted in angered unison after they heard of this heinous crime.

The rape and subsequent murder of the doctor were sure to trigger great public outrage, as is always the response after every case of sexual violence. 

People didn’t limit their anger to social media only, but several people took to the streets to protest and demanded ‘instant justice,’ and students took out protest rallies with candles, across the two Telugu states, as it is always done after any such atrocious crimes come to attention. 

People are regularly posting about the case on social media with a trending hashtag. The campaigns online and otherwise are demanding strict actions against the culprits.

Will Any Of It Make Any Difference?

Students from different organisations hold placards to protest against the Telangana government after a rape case of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad at Parliament Street in New Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

When has it ever made a difference? Once again, we have shifted our focus on the crime and how to punish the culprits, rather than focusing on how to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

If online protests are not going to make a difference, neither will shouting ‘hang the culprits.’ There’s rhetoric to the whole hanging the culprits as well. The culprits can be hanged only when the police agree to file the FIR, without further harassing the women, or causing a delay in filing the report. Three policemen were reported to be suspended for the delay in filing the FIR.

Only one out of every four rapists are convicted in India. The fault lies within the system, both political and societal. 

The other perspective of the rape and murder case cannot be ignored either. As expected, it did take a communal turn. The politicians have jumped on the bandwagon of communalising the incident. While it might serve their political agendas, it does nothing to ensure women’s safety and prevent such an incident from happening again.

The rape culture our society built is flourishing, and it won’t be long before someone blames the victim.

Online campaigns, trending hashtags, protests, and rallies, and candle marches are a great way to show your anger towards the crime and the culprits and your support for the victim and her family, but it is neither going to prevent the crimes. Nor it would ensure women’s safety.

We need to ask why we take actions only after a crime is committed, and a person has been mutilated and brutally killed. We need to recognise the fault with the system, draft policies to ensure women’s safety, and deliver swift and strict punishment to the culprits.

Six other terrifying cases of rape were reported in the same week. Similar outrage was seen on the Nirbhaya gang-rape case of 2012 and several other cases of sexual violence. But these seven years have neither made any difference nor has it taught us anything.

The only aspect which changed is the intensity with which we respond to such incidents.

 

Created by Saman Javed

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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