Trigger warning: Mention of sexual abuse and rape.
Have you read about the recent case of the 9-year-old Dalit girl, who was electrocuted after being raped when she went to fetch water? The incident has caused havoc in the nation’s capital city of New Delhi where the grieving mother sat in protest along with hundreds of others to demand justice for her innocent child. But, will this justice bring her daughter back?
No. It won’t. Then, what is this fight against? Is it against the abusers who are roaming freely? Is it against the rogue men who are roaming freely in the streets? Or, is it a mother fighting for her daughter so that what happened to her, doesn’t happen to anyone else?
We are days away from becoming a country that has been independent and developing for 74 years now. In these 74 years, India has achieved a better economic status, a better global presence, a great reputation among the world economic and political landscapes, won numerous medals at the Olympics, and has even managed to unite the nation for space missions.
Yet, even after so many years of development and moving forward towards a more stable and educated nation, one thing which has deeply entrenched its roots till today is casteism.
Space factors pervade each part of life across immense wraps of India, especially in the southern Asian country’s provincial regions. With regards to sexual brutality, an intense blend of rank-driven claims, and in some cases religion-based ones, have been the prime inspirational reasons. In any case, sexual brutality cases including minimized gatherings — including ancestral individuals and the Dalits— haven’t received sufficient public consideration.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the crime against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been recorded to increase by over 7% and 26% respectively in the year 2019. The violence comprised of rape, child sexual abuse, and abuse by police personnel. Such crimes tend to shoot up in areas where judicial systems are corrupt or dissolved.
Even today, rape is a taboo topic, especially in rural areas and their inhabitants. Elders themselves feel uncomfortable while discussing the cases of rape with their families. One can imagine what must be the situation of children in such families concerning the awareness of child sexual abuse and its prevention. Offenses like these often go unreported, and even when it is reported, the victims are sometimes held responsible and shunned, while little is done to prosecute the perpetrators.
Horrendous crimes against women and children, especially of the socially and economically weaker sections of society have taken us back to the start. With almost 56,000 children dying in slums every year, we are surely neglecting an eye over the marginalized section of society. Children growing up in slums, villages, or poor localities comprise a significant percentage of rape victims.
That’s partially because stabilizing factors like schools, televisions, workshops for children’s awareness are out of their reach. There is no denial of the prevalent trend in our society that socioeconomically disadvantaged people, often minorities, tend to distrust police because they are more likely to have had or heard about a negative experience with police. This makes prosecuting rapists difficult.
Even in the Unnao rape case, we could see how a powerful MLA raped a teenager on the pretext of getting her a job. But eventually, did she achieve justice? No. What followed was an ill fate of the victim’s family and news after news without any conclusion.
This is the fate of many women and children in our country who are caught up in the vicious cycle of being a minority from a poor social and economical background. Our judicial response to caste-based atrocities and hate crimes doesn’t put forward a good picture of the Indian judicial system and remediation. Policies cannot simply mandate harsher punishments for offenders.
The empowerment of SC/ST folks in our society can start only when we are more acceptable to all, leaving the mentality of creating that unnecessary divide of the old Vedic Caste System and a proactive system of filing and lodging complaints and acting upon it.
True change depends on addressing issues like poverty, cultural factors, and judicial accountability. We are yet to be a nation that sees less disparity in terms of economy, sociology as well as political scenarios, especially a nation that is less prone to crime against children and women.
(The views presented in the article above are based on data researched from authentic resources as mentioned in the article. There is no intent to hurt or deny any other views on the same.)