The Kathua and Unnao cases have divided many Indians on the basis of their political inclination and hampered our fight to counter the rape culture. This right and left inclination has led to much whataboutery and “holier than thou” statements from the various political outfits and their followers. If sexual crimes against women and girls are getting uglier with each passing day, then we are doing something wrong. We are focusing more on the political aspect of rape in our country, than on the cultural aspect.

I accept that it is difficult to separate politics from both these cases. A leader of the ruling state party is the main accused in one case. Whereas some leaders of the same party took to the streets in support of the accused in the other case. The current central government needs to be criticised for letting political alliances and agendas get in the way of justice. But when will we take some part of the blame collectively as a society? After all, we are equally responsible here if people are supporting rapists and defending politicians, instead of supporting the need to eradicate the culture of rape from our country.

The politics of mudslinging 

Political parties in India have always let us down when it comes to taking strict action against rising incidents of rape in our country. Women’s safety and empowerment is just a political agenda for them. There was a different outfit in power at the centre when the brutal Delhi gang rape happened. There are a different set of people in power today. All political parties have shown their incapability in dealing with sexual crime against women.

What happened in Unnao is the result of our incompetency to make politicians respect and fear our mandate. Indian politicians abuse their power, because they know that justice to rape victims is not our social priority. Most political parties in India harbour politicians accused of rape. Time and again prominent politicians have made tasteless remarks on rape and have gotten away with just a reprimand. But instead of unanimously putting pressure on them to take women’s safety seriously, people are busy debating which political outfit does less harm. So deep is the political rift in our country right now that people would rather embrace alternate narratives or resort to whataboutery. Yet, we hand over our mandate in the hands of those who care the least about the safety of women. But alas! leaders reflect the people they represent.

Rape is a cultural problem in our country. It happens to women across social and economic standing. It happens to women across regions, religions and caste. We only beat around these bush. We the society is more responsible than any political party, for failing to cure India of its rape culture.

Women and girls get raped every day in India, yet it takes the brutality of a Kathua or Nirbhaya, or a political disaster of an Unnao case to spark an outrage among us.

Why did we stop protesting after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case? Why did we not manage to put pressure on every single political party in this country to ensure women’s safety on the village, district, state and national level?

No amount of candlelight vigils or peaceful protests are going to help our cause if we just give up on it in a matter of days or months. The main focus here should be to pressurise all political outfits to take strict action against rapists, and to prevent our boys and men from turning into monsters.

As a society, we have been sitting and watching things get out of hand.We have let patriarchy and misogyny call the shots in matters of sexual crimes against women since forever. Thus we have shoved women down the path of sexual abuse due to our negligence and apathy.

Every time we read about rape in the newspaper and chosen to not be angry. We worsen the situation.

Every time we turn a blind eye when a lecherous politician got into power despite accusations of rape, we have put the well-being of women at risk. Even today, we are busy playing political cards instead of proving the power of democracy over political power. There will be more Nirbhayas. There will be more little girls who will die a painful death at the hands of monsters. All because we choose to fight the wrong battles. It’s time to ensure that girls and women do not the price of our bigotry.

Also Read : Nationwide Protests Seeking Immediate Justice for Kathua & Unnao

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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