Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Gang-Rape, Caste-Based Violence
Social media has been overflowing with news stories and videos of protests ever since a 19-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped by four ‘upper caste’ Hindu men in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. My Facebook feed seems to have turned into a melting pot of voices, and it is indeed heartening to see people coming together to speak their hearts out on the matter, but is it enough?
According to a study, more than 80 women are raped in India every day, and these are just conservative figures. To put things simply – all our ledgers are gushing red, and we, as individuals, think reporting the incident and letting people know of the heinousness it brings along will make things right.
Well, this is how it goes: a woman is raped in Hathras. The news spreads like wildfire, and all of the media fraternity goes berserk, social media erupts like a volcano, protests are staged in support of the victim, discussions are conducted to throw light on the rising number of rape cases in the country, and newer laws are brought into force by folks in the high castle. Consequently, all of it boils down to nothing.
We barely seem to get past the incident when the other strikes, bigger and brutal. In this way, the horrendous cycle keeps going on and on and on, unabashedly, and relentlessly. You know the problem: we talk endlessly of putting an end to violent crimes against women, but our efforts are just as fragile as our memories, alas! Also, the nature of India’s rape culture is deep-rooted, so much so that we fail to acknowledge it. It’s a tumour that keeps rotting us endlessly, but we fail to acknowledge it in the hope that it’d die with us. However, the disease doesn’t die down. It just lurks there, waiting for the right time to strike.
Every 16 minutes, a woman is raped and brutalised in the country. To aggravate the problem-a major chunk of the rape cases are reported from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. While Rajasthan topped the list in 2019 with over 6000 cases, UP occupied the second spot on the list with over 3000 cases. The barrage of stats throws ample light on the sorry state of law and order in the country. UP has been the hotbed of rape cases for quite a while, even as UP CM Yogi Adityanath claims to have made steady progress in his bid to uplift the law and order situation in the state.
The problem is: India continues to be in denial of its rape culture. An even bigger problem is our inability to realise the impact it has on the lives of young women and girls. No prizes for guessing: Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi women are highly vulnerable to violent crimes. Ours is a society wherein men are made to believe that Dalits are inferior and ‘undesirable’. Hathras horror is nothing but a reminder that ours is a society that fails to care for those who are underprivileged and marginalised.
The country’s judicial system is also to blame. The inability to deliver justice is much bigger a problem. A large chunk of the rape cases involving the Dalit community doesn’t make it to the courts of law. The call for justice falls on deaf ears whenever Dalits are involved.