Sexual assault against women in India, particularly Uttar Pradesh, seems to be taking turn for the worst as rapists become emboldened by the lack of police investigation and political sympathy in favour of the criminal. In the last fortnight four women have been raped and hung from trees by their own dupatta (scarf) or sari.
These crimes are outrageous enough but even more so are the continuous foot-in-mouth statements from the chief minister of the state, his father and a growing chorus of male chief ministers from other states. I watched a TV discussion on NDTV (channel 511 on Sky) where a representative of the UP government repeatedly stated ‘what about men who are wrongly accused?’ to the extent that the presenter and representatives of all other political parties were exasperated in disbelief. As a woman, this is at least a relief but too bad if you’re a woman from UP.
I may be jumping to nasty conclusions but I think that men and political figures who keep defending rapists and rape might be guilty of past crimes against women themselves. How can you be outraged by rape if you are yourself a rapist or have committed sexual assault? The statements coming out of these guys are so shocking that ‘jaw dropping’ renders itself useless.
The tragic hangings of these ‘backward caste’ women and girls reminded me of tragic hangings on the other side of the world of black people in the USA before slavery was entirely abolished after the civil rights movement. Billie Holiday captures the sadness and grief of disempowered segments of society.
The father of one of the two murdered girls recalled how the police asked him his caste before registering a case, the father stated he was an Indian and he had rights as a citizen…and he is described as backward caste!! To me he appears to understand patriotism and his legal rights as much as ‘educated’ Indians. PM Modi made an address to parliament yesterday saying his government had to fight for the rights of the poor as rich people already have access to health and justice. Let’s hope he can deliver.