The conscience of Indians, that were shaken during the Nirbhaya gangrape case in 2012 leading to massive protests in the national capital, have suffered jolts again. This time it’s because of horrific sexual offences caused against children.
An eight-year-old girl was brutally raped over and over again for days by Hindu extremists in the small village of Kathua in Jammu before her head was smashed with a stone. In another case, a BJP MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, allegedly raped a girl from Unnao and when she went to the police station to file an FIR, police beat up her family over and over again. It is only when the case sparked media attention that the UP government decided to shift it to the CBI for probe.
In view of such heinous crimes, Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Malliwal sat on a hunger strike on Thursday (April 13) to express grief and protest over the incidents. Malliwal has also written to PM Modi, informing him that sexual violence against women and children has reached a critical peak in the nation.
I highly condemn government for shielding the BJP MLA. There should be greater accountability from people in power and law enforcing agencies – @SwatiJaiHind who is on a hunger strike in light of #Asifa and #Unnao rape case at Rajpath.
Reports @PoorviGupta08 pic.twitter.com/rxLNmNBAtI
— SheThePeople (@SheThePeople) April 13, 2018
During her indefinite hunger strike, Malliwal said, “Prime Minister did fast for one day yesterday. We were hoping that he will speak something on the issue & will give assurance to our countrymen to ensure safety of our daughters. But silence of PM & entire govt is very heart breaking.”
Parents of the 8-month-old baby, who was brutally raped two months ago, was also present to extend support.
On the laws we have against these crimes, she pointed out, “Formulating laws is a good thing but until and unless the police is held accountable, they aren’t given adequate authority to pursue such cases, nothing is going to change. We need a law which gives capital punishment to rapists of young children within six months and we need its implementation. Today, law is becoming a hoax because there is no enforcement.”
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The protest saw a great number of people speaking up and against such brutal crimes against women in the country. The girl, who had been masturbated at in a local bus and her video went viral on social media, was also at the protest. She recalled her own trauma of how difficult it was for her to get the police to file an FIR against the man who masturbated looking at her. “It took me a long while to come out of that mental state. But these crimes are at their peak in the country and if we don’t raise our voice against it today, then it is very shameful on our part as citizens.”
Young girls and women protesting at #Rajghat for #Asifa_Unnao #JusticeforAsifa #JusticeForUnnao
Photos by @PoorviGupta08 pic.twitter.com/1ACfxlwCVw
— SheThePeople (@SheThePeople) April 13, 2018
“People who spoke to me after the masturbation case kept telling me that at least rape did not happen with you. It bothers me so much to hear these arguments because it is a precursor to any case of sexual harassment.”
Rekha Rani, a woman attendee who had come all the way from Jafrabad, Gujarat, spoke to SheThePeople.TV, “There should be immediate redressal for crimes against children. Only then will these rapists will have fear in their minds before committing such crimes. I feel if men are aware of the consequences of rape then such things will not happen.”
“Men are responsible for rape, I don’t think girls are at all responsible for rape because no girl wants to get raped and feel so much pain. Ye jo boys hote hain jo gande gande comments karte hain colleges ke bahar khade hokar ladkiyon ke peeche se ye toh bade kharab hote hain (These boys who make dirty comments on girls’ back standing outside college gates are the worst) In my eyes no girl likes to hear such filthy words.”
Nazreen, who had also come from Jafrabad, said, “These cases that we hear about break our spirit and courage to even step out of our houses. We feel that it is not even safe to go out with our fathers and brothers as you would see in the Unnao case, so we fear for their lives as well. Such rapists should get death punishment in six months.”
On questioning who is responsible for rape, the girl said, “Men are responsible for rape, I don’t think girls are at all responsible for rape because no girl wants to get raped and feel so much pain. Ye jo boys hote hain jo gande gande comments karte hain colleges ke bahar khade hokar ladkiyon ke peeche se ye toh bade kharab hote hain (These boys who make dirty comments on girls’ back standing outside college gates are the worst) In my eyes no girl like to hear such filthy words.”
Ex-Union minister Yashvant Sinha also reached Rajghat to express his support to the DCW chief. Former diplomat K C Singh also came to protest against the rapes. Renowned theatre group Asmita’s head Arvind Gaur, along with his team, also came to show support to the indefinite hunger strike. The team performed few of their plays, including ‘Dastak’.