India’s Rape Crisis — No City Safe for Women
An open challenge to India’s political leadership
A software engineer, out for a bike ride, was beaten and raped by 10 men in Jharkhand’s Chaibasa district. Oct 20, 2022.
India has failed. Failed miserably. Who cares about space programs or bullet trains when basic women security is something no government is able to provide.
It boils my blood to see the leaders of the state brush these off, while continuing with their self-glorification campaigns. A day after this news emerged, the leader of the nation could be seen delivering a high powered speech in the city of Ayodhya, glorifying both, Lord Ram as well as his own party’s achievements. A true leader would have stopped everything in it’s tracks until the underlying safety of women was adequately addressed.
Horror after Horror
Brutalization against women reached a peak in December 2012, when a physio therapist student was brutally beaten and raped (the incident, the ensuing hunt for the accused — all captured in season 1 of Delhi Crime on Netflix).
That incident should have been the last such incident.
The Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixit has a history of downplaying such incidents, and even went on record to say that the case was blown out of proportion and that women who are victims of violence, are often ‘too adventurous’.
This coming from the top leadership of the city known as the rape capital of the world. Instead of focusing her efforts on eliminating such incidents, her response was that of a coward — Such things keep happening, don’t blame me…
This is not an atypical response. This also starts to explain the lack of political will to address this basic public safety issue.
State Leaders are Complicit in the Rapes
This is what the Chief Minister of Jharkhand had to say on a previous incident, when a minor girl was raped and hung from a tree.
Such Incidents Keep Happening.
If it were his daughter or wife, I wonder if he would have made the same remark? Would he have claimed that such incidents keep happening?
Appeasement of Convicted Rapists
In addition to the insensitivity shown by state and local leaders (and this includes women leaders), some politicians take it a step further.
A convicted rapist, Ram Rahim, was released on bail in Haryana. This was done in an effort to get his support for upcoming Haryana elections. In spite of his conviction, he continues to have a strong following, which is of interest to state political leaders.
In other appeasement news, convicted rapists (from the Gujarat mass rapes), were released, and even ‘honored’ by certain leaders of the ruling party.
Is there a solution? Police Reform
The sad thing is — the solution is simple. It requires active police reform.
Yet — reform has never arrived.
After both right wing and left wing governments, there is no reform and no effective policing.
Effective police reform will require cutting the police force loose from political influence. This is something that no politician, has had the courage to do.
In addition, massive scale sensitivity training (of the police force, and associated involved parties), is required to address the rape crisis.
Yes, modernization of the police force is part of the reform. However, allowing them to operate independent (of political pressure) is probably an even bigger aspect. This is where the hang up is and has been all along.
And India’s girls and women continue to pay the price for this hang up.
Poor Policing, and an open challenge to India’s leaders
By policing is meant active patrolling that prevents incidents before they happen. There is not a single Indian city which can claim to have active, effective policing.
The causes of poor policing are many. In fact, an open challenge to every city and state leader is the following:
Make it possible for a woman to walk freely (safely) after midnight, in your city.
There isn’t a single Indian politician that will accept this challenge.
There isn’t a single city that passes this test (people often mention Mumbai as an exception).
Bajrang Dal mass rapes back in focus
The extreme right fringe group, Bajrang Dal, is responsible for one of the most heinous rape incident, in recent history. In the name of religion (and revenge), they unleashed brutal rapes on the wives of Muslim laborers in Gujarat.
The trigger for the violence remains shrouded in legal battles. There was a fire in a crowded train carrying Hindu worshippers. Several people were burnt to death. Was the fire started by outside vendors (Muslim vendors) or by faulty stove tops inside the train? There isn’t a clear answer. What is clear is that there was a rush to verdict — and it was blamed entirely on the muslim vendors (who did apparently get into verbal arguments with the passengers).
Regardless, the scope and brutal response to the train incident, should leave all Indians ashamed.
Recently, this incident was brought back into the news as some of the convicted rapists were released on grounds of ‘good behavior’. That in itself wasn’t the shocking part. The truly shocking part was today’s BJP party members welcoming these convicts and pronouncing them as ‘good brahmins’.
Gujarat — The Making of a Tragedy — Siddharth Varadarajan
Death Penalty for proven rapists?
Whether you support such a penalty or not, the simple answer is that effective policing will curtail the problem to a degree that this debate becomes moot.
As Benjamin Franklin once said — ‘It is better to let a 100 guilty go free, than to punish one innocent…’ This applies to the death penalty solution.
In other words, occasionally, the penalty would send an innocent man to the gallows, as well.
Effective police reforms can solve India’s rape crisis, without the need for the death penalty.
The BJP, in the past, has proposed such capital punishment for rape cases. However, as long as their own fringe party elements (Bajrang Dal), are conveniently let off the hook (and even celebrated), the BJP’s promises are empty. Far from taking strict action, several party leaders seem to be condoning rape in certain cases.
What’s to be done?
India needs to stop moving and come to a complete pause.
Just like the U.S. needs to pause to tackle it’s public shooting epidemic.
In the U.S. as well, one single party has conveniently turned a blind eye to every mass shooting, claiming that’s just the price of freedom. Not so. Several allies of the U.S., including Canada, enjoy the same freedoms (and the same violent game, movie culture), but have insignificant mass shootings. It’s got nothing to do with freedom or any amendment. It’s plain and simple corruption (bribing of Republican house and senate members by the rich NRA lobby).
The U.S. needs to adopt common sense gun measures (all of which have been debated and solutioned to death), just as India needs to implement common sense police reforms, to prevent the brutal attacks on it’s women.
Won’t that take long? How about an interim solution?
- Free defensive training for every girl in India.
- Free mace for every girl and woman in India.
These should be provided by the Government.
It’s not the long term solution (effective policing is), but it is a step that is bound to have an effect in reducing both the rate as well as the brutality of such incidents.