No-one cares about the raped and murdered girls

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No-one cares about the raped and murdered girls

by Mari Marcel Thekaekara


Millions of village women have to use the fields near their houses as toilets. (Rongzoni under a Creative Commons Licence)

Another terrible rape. Two young girls, 14 and 16-year old cousins, were raped, tortured and hanged from a tree last week in Badaun, in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. It’s so terrible. But it’s difficult to feel emotional, day after day, week after week, with so many rapes in the news.

It was a normal day for the teenagers. Before going to bed on that terrible night, they went to the toilet. But most Indian villagers do not have a toilet. Millions of village women have to use the fields near their houses as toilets. They normally do this when it’s dark, at daybreak and after sunset. But this daily routine turned bad when a group of men took the girls. An uncle of one of the girls saw the men pulling them away by the hair and he told them to stop. The men threatened him with a gun. One girl’s father ran to the police station to get help. The policeman, with no emotion, told him to go away. He said his daughter would return in the morning. When the desperate father fell on the floor and begged the policeman to do something, the policeman hit him. This is normal treatment for poor and dalit (very low caste) families.

These girls are not dalit, but most Indian newspapers said they are. But they were very poor, powerless and from a lower caste. People say the men who took them often stole and raped lower caste women. They say this terrible rape and murder was to teach the poor and powerless that they have no power. Recently, dalit and lower caste people had protested against the behaviour of the most important caste Yadav men. They have controlled the villages near there until now. The local policeman who hit the father of the victim is from the same caste as the men who killed the girls. And people say that two policemen helped them commit the crime.

The bodies of the girls showed that the men had hit, bitten and tortured them. And the post mortem showed that the men hanged them when they were still alive. This violence in the new culture of rape is frightening and many people are saying that there must be immediate action. Many people see a lot of porn on mobile phones. It’s not only rape now. And it’s terrible to write ‘only rape’ – it shows how frightening the situation is. Almost as if we should be happy if we are ‘only raped’.

I am very sad to see that there is no shock and sadness for the Badaun cousins, like there was across India in December 2012 after the Nirbhaya Delhi rape. These girls are not middle class, high caste, city women. They were two lower caste, village girls. Not ‘people like us’.

The UN and the US have said that India is now an ‘unsafe destination for women’. Tourism is affected, because people are talking about Indian ‘rape’ cases across the world. Perhaps the politicians and powerful people who want India to ‘shine’ will finally do something to cut crime against women. Not many people seem to care about the women victims, but there are some political speeches about making women more powerful. All the political parties use each rape to win points against the opposite parties. They should now work together to make sure that the people who rape and murder are punished – and the policemen too. Our rape laws, even the new laws, have no power if the police help commit crimes against lower castes.

As a country we cannot continue like this. Will this make our country change?

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