No country for women
8-year-old Asifa’s heinous gangrape and murder has rocked the nation. Justice is what we want, not communal colouring
An 8-year-old girl was drugged, tortured, held captive and gangraped for days, and eventually brutally murdered. This heinous crime perpetrated against young Asifa has shocked the collective conscience of the nation. Asifa's pain is unimaginable, the reasons behind this crime are inscrutable. What kind of beasts and monsters would do something like this? Even animals are better; they too show compassion.
And is this the time to ask which religion she, her perpetrators, or the investigators belong to? It has not been too many years since the ruthless gangrape and murder of Jyoti Singh a.k.a Nirbhaya. If chilling details of iron rods being inserted into her vagina pulling out her entrails with vicious force did not shock you, read about the Asifa's ordeal. A little girl who should have only been busy with school and games, suffered so gravely that we must all hang our heads in shame. She was out grazing her horses unaware of the evil plan that had been hatched, trusting in her steps to follow the man who beckoned her into the forest, helpless as she lay sedated being violated over and over again. Only perverseness can drive someone to violate children.
A country which worships scores of female goddesses continues to fail its mortal women. What hypocrisy is this to pay obeisance to the gods and yet think nothing of raping and killing women? That Asifa was gangraped within the 'devisthan' of a temple shows that religion is the last thing that should be debated. Any individual who has respect for their religion would not debase its shrine in such a manner. Asifa's rape in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and a year-old pending rape case in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh face a stranger dilemma. Instead of demanding strict punishment for the accused, certain sections have been trying to shield the accused. In Unnao, the rape survivor seeks justice not only for herself but also for her father who died while in police custody after being mercilessly beaten up. What is wrong with us? Is humanity truly dead? What kind of religious blinkers allows people to support the accused?
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), crimes against women have increased by over 83 per cent in the last decade between 2007-2016. Every hour, at least 39 crimes against women are reported. Rape accounts for 11 per cent of the crimes; four rape cases were reported every hour in 2016. The higher number of crimes is also a testament to greater reporting of crimes. However, the most disheartening revelation is that conviction rate has hit a record low. 2016 witnessed the lowest conviction rate of 18.9 per cent.
Justice has no religion, no caste, no gender, and it is justice we want for all Asifas and Nirbhayas of India. Should the rapists be castrated? Should they too be brutalised like little Asifa? Should they be executed with no chance of appeal and clemency? Let the judicial system mete out a strict and speedy sentence that will haunt future rapists. We have had enough of court dates and cases dragging on for years. The time to act is now and act we must. Only severe punishment for the rapists and justice for the victim's family can be the balm that brings relief. We want answers, we want assurance that this will never happen again. Mr Prime Minister, this would be the right time for your 'Mann ki Baat'. 'Beti Bachao', Sir.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)