By: Malvika B.
The last week has seen some outrageous claims being made about the recent spate of rape cases in Haryana, and how to deal with the problem. It started with a Khap Panchayat leader’s suggestion to allow marrying girls off at 16 in order to reduce instances of rape, supported by former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. Then there was Hisar Congressman Dharambir Goyat, who said, “The girl gets into an affair with a boy and she goes with him without knowing that he is of criminal mindset. It’s not the state government which is responsible for rapes, in fact in most of the cases its consensual sex.”
The lengths both men and women in our country go to justify a man’s reasons for rape are astonishing. The most ridiculous of all claims was made by Khap Panchayat leader Jitendar Chhatar recently, who said, “To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts.” Sure, the noodles did it.
These people lead millions, and still fail to understand that rape is an act of violence, not sex. How then, can we expect the police to deal with the situation any better? They tend to blame girls drinking, dressing-up, going out in the company of men, and of course – “asking for it”. A woman might be 3 or 90 years old; married or single; pregnant; in school; mentally challenged; in a mini-skirt or in a burqa. She can get raped, and she does not ask for it. Rape is a crime, and only the rapist is to blame.
A 16 year-old Dalit girl is one of the recent rape victims in Haryana. She was kidnapped, blindfolded, gagged, and gang-raped by eight men, who threatened to circulate pictures if she told anyone. She kept it to herself for ten days, and only she knows the shame and fear she felt. Finally, her father was shown a picture of the attack, and committed suicide. This is what led her story to come out in the open. Now she has to deal with her father’s death as well.
Her story was told in numerous different ways by different people, but the police only took down the “correct” complaint after coming under pressure from activists, and were forced to take action when the family refused to perform the girl’s father’s last rites. This girl is one of thousands.
These women are put through hell when the crime is committed, as well as after, when their families and society might not accept them. They are asked humiliating questions and made to relive it all, over and over again. Still, according to statistics, only a third of rape prosecutions end in an arrest.
The stories of these women remain unheard while our leaders use the issue as a new opportunity to amass votes. They continue to make ludicrous statements, deny responsibility, and blame each other instead of jointly making every effort to rid the nation of this hideous crime.
When accused of doing nothing, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said that the Haryana government is working “discreetly to reassure the families that they will be safe and they will not have to worry about the social support they need.” While this is certainly needed, she went on to say that “It is not a very simple black-and-white law and order issue only.” Ms. Chowdhury, a 16 year old was kidnapped, gang-raped, threatened, publicly humiliated, and faced her father’s death, all in a span of ten days. Please, show me the grey area.
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