By Dr.Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui
India is the most dangerous country for women (Reuters, 2018). In fact, 2019 has been worse. From a 2-month baby to a 70-year old woman, nobody is safe from sexual assault followed by murder.
Afghanistan and Syria are behind India as far as atrocities on women are concerned. The case of a 27-year old veterinary doctor in the southern Indian state of Telangana, who was gang raped, strangulated and burnt to death last week has shocked the collective conscience of the nation.
The charred remains were recognized from a locket of a Hindu-god symbol that the doctor was wearing. On Monday, Indian Parliament reverberated with cries of stringent punishment from chemical castration to public lynching of the alleged four suspects – M Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, and C.Chennakeshavulu.
In the past week, there were reports of gang rapes from the states of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. In Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, a law student was gang raped by 12 culprits.
At the time of writing this report, news came in that a 27-year old raped a 70-year old woman who is in a serious condition in a hospital in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The incidence of rape increased significantly after the 2002 Gujarat riots and the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. Hundreds of Muslim women were dragged on to the roads, stripped, gang raped, put to sword and burnt in Gujarat but not many rapist-killers were brought to justice.
The present Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002. The Supreme Court of India had castigated him for his failure to stop the riots and called him a ‘Nero.’
Many countries like the United States and the United Kingdom had banned the entry of Narendra Modi. Action was taken against some police officers for conniving with the Hindutv extremist rapist-killers.
Many policemen were let off the hook. Many cases were not registered at all. Narendra Modi’s party colleague and later cabinet colleague Maya Kodnani, who was Minister for Women Welfare, was convicted for leading the rioters in Ahmedabad is out on bail! So much for women’s welfare!
Ten years after the riots, I went to Ahmedabad to cover the 2012 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections. I met some of the riot victims from the worst effected Naroda Patiya on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
I was horrified to listen to Shakila Banu Ansari, a riot victim. She disclosed that Maya Kodnani, being a woman herself, instead of protecting the honour of women, allegedly urged the drunk extremist Hindutv youths to ‘unzip their pants, take out their p*nis, disrobe and rape the Muslim women on the roads.’
Maya allegedly asked some of the youth as to why they were shy?
In Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh scores of Muslim women were raped but these victims are still waiting for justice.
Presently, the state of Uttar Pradesh is ruled by Narendra Modi’s party colleague, a Hindu monk of a temple — Yogi Adityanath. At a meeting, a speaker urged the people to rape even ‘dead Muslim women’.
Adityanath was present on the stage. He did nothing as the crowd cheered on. Later, a Muslim dead woman’s body was dragged out from a grave and raped!
Can justice be expected from biased hate mongers who rule the state and the country?
In March 2019, the chief of United Nations Human Rights Council observed: “We are receiving reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities – in particular, Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis,” Michelle Bachelet said this in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
But the Modi Government denied this report.
Though laws were made stringent against rapists and murderers, the conviction rate is abysmally low.
Rapists and murderers had a free run from 2002 onwards. No woman whether a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Dalit etc is safe from sexual predators.
Prosecution becomes difficult if in some cases involve ministers and legislators as sexual assaulters. There are not enough policemen and less number of police women in police stations across the country.
Being a patriarchal society, Indian men in administration and police do not prefer to share power with women. Misogyny prevents many deserving police women to occupy the posts of district police chiefs and state police chiefs in adequate numbers.
Talented and deserving women police officers are often ignored. A case in point is from the Telangana state.
The post of the Director General of Police (DGP) had fallen vacant in 2017. I had suggested through an article to the Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to give a chance to a woman officer to become the DGP. (‘KCR Garu, How About a Woman DGP? 1st November 2017, Evening Standard, India’).
My plea fell on deaf ears.
If a woman DGP had taken over then, she would have tried to put at least few woman cops in each police station across the state. The present tragedy and embarrassment in the vet doctor’s case in Telangana could have been avoided.
The women cops would have surely attended to the distressed cries of help from the vet doctor’s respectable family. They would not have told the family – ‘your daughter is beautiful. She might have eloped with her lover.’
Apart from beefing up police stations across the country with women officers, mass counseling and awareness programs should be held.
Swift public hanging of the rapist-murderers may help in deterring the potential culprits. Not just rapes in public but attention should be paid to stop incest.
Mothers should teach their sons to respect women. The son-fixation should be put to an end.
I reiterate Telangana Chief Minister KCR Garu, how about a woman Director General of Police?
Oprah Winfrey had once famously remarked that mothers should teach their sons to keep their pants up!