Rape is becoming so widespread in India that many women are now afraid to come out. Women are targeted everywhere: in the cities as well as villages as the horrible case of two young girls gang-raped on May 27 shows. The assailants included two police officers. Where should the victims turn to for help if the police themselves are involved? India claims to be the world's largest democracy; it is the world's biggest rapist nation.
Friday May 30, 2014, 19:23 DST
Protests erupted in India’s capital city Delhi today after two more girls were raped and murdered in a village in Uttar Pradesh state. Protesters included students and other groups outraged by the growing incidents of rape and the indifference of the police. The two low-caste girls, age 14 and 15, from Katra village went missing on Tuesday (May 27) night after they went out of their house to relieve themselves. Lacking a toilet at home, as is the case in much of rural India, the girls went out at night to a nearby field.
Their bodies were found hanging the following day from a mango tree. Both had been raped. The rapists included two policemen who were arrested as well as two men from the same village, according to the Associated Press. Two other policemen were sacked over the handling of the case.
When the girls’ bodies were discovered, the police said they should let them hang until the investigation was completed. Not until four persons including two policemen were arrested in the rape and murder of the two girls that their bodies were lowered from the tree. According to autopsy reports, the girls were raped and then strangled to death.
According to official figures, a rape occurs every 22 minutes in India. The actual number is much higher since many victims do not report the case for fear of bringing shame to the family as well as indifference of the police.
As happened with these two unfortunate girls, the police themselves were involved in the crime. What made this crime more shocking was that the girls were barely out of childhood. Further, these occurred despite the fact that the government has passed a law making rape crime punishable by death.
People in India woke up to the horror of widespread rapes when a medical student and her friend were brutally assaulted on a Delhi bus in December 2012. Not only was the girl gang raped but her internal organs were mangled with a metal rod and the victims were then dumped from a moving bus.
The girl’s internal injuries were so severe that she died a few days later. The assault and the ensuing publicity evoked revulsion among most Indians demanding tougher punishment for rapists. The Indian government passed a law but as with most laws in the country, people simply ignore them because many politicians themselves are involved in such crimes. The recent election was a case in point. There were dozens of politicians facing charges of rape yet they ran for public office and it did not dampen their style.
Further, rape victims in India are threatened and intimidated by the assailants after the attack. This is especially true in the case of low-caste victims, as these two unfortunate girls were.
In India’s caste-ridden society—essentially religious sanctioned apartheid—girls belonging to lower castes are regularly assaulted and raped. Rape of Dalit women—the lowest of the low in the Hindu caste pyramid—is so common that most people do not take the slightest notice of their complaints.
They are considered unclean and cannot eat from the same plate or draw water from the same well because they would pollute these but when it comes to rape, “higher” caste Hindus do not worry about such distinctions. There is also official sanction for such crimes. For instance, last month, UP state’s governing party official Mulayam Singh Yadav told an election rally that he was opposed to the law making rape a capital punishment.
“Boys will be boys,” Mulayam Singh Yadav said. “They make mistakes.”
Raping young girls is a mistake? Welcome to the world’s self-proclaimed largest democracy that can do no wrong as far as the Indian-doting West is concerned. Victims of rape will have to struggle on their own against a system—political, judicial, social, and caste—that does not think rape is such a big deal.
Pity the poor victims.