India is witnessing a fresh surge of protests against incidents of rape and the rape culture, following the rape and murder of the 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad. The nature of the crime and the insensitive reaction of the police and the ministers from the state has triggered outrage across India, with protests taking place in Hyderabad, Delhi and Bengaluru.
Hundreds of activists, students and citizens came together to protest against the increasing number of rapes today, as another rape case of a minor from Rajasthan has surfaced. In the ongoing winter session of Parliament, the issue was discussed in the zero hour today, where the Modi government stated that they are ready to take “stringent measures” to deal with the increasing instances of violence.
However, protesters in Delhi asserted that the government is “not doing enough” to end rape culture and is instead shielding rapists.
The protest was organised by the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), ANHAD and Demorcatic Students Association (DSO) among others.
Speaking to NewsClick, Maimoona Mollah of the AIDWA said, “In the increasing instances of rape, we see that there is a pattern. The same protests had stirred up a storm back in 2012 with the Delhi rape and murder case. We are also seeing a pattern very clearly—in terms of the gravity of the crimes and secondly, about the insensitive response from both the police and the government.”
According to the National Commissioner for Women (NCW), the police asked the victim’s mother if she was having an affair with anyone and ignored the family’s assertion that their daughter’s failure to return home was unusual. It was only six hours after the family raised their concern that the police began to look for her. Amid nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad, the Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat has issued an advisory for women to stay safe. The advisory issued by the police, like always, puts the onus on the women to keep themselves safe, rather than the administration taking responsibility for making the streets safer for women. It also steers clear the society as a collective of taking responsibility to teach men to respect women as human beings beyond “mothers and sisters”.
“Response from the government remains extremely patriarchal, reflecting just how deep-rooted rape culture is in our society. We are here to state that this needs to end, as it is deeply insensitive and very disturbing,” said Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD. During the protests, the women were surrounded by the police and the barricading by the forces stopped them from proceeding further.
Speaking to NewsClick, Subhashini Ali, the polit bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], said, “The police are present here in huge numbers to crackdown on us. Where are the forces of the BJP government when they need to crackdown on the rapists in the city?”
She added, “The culture of rape is deeply rooted in the ruling dispensation and it becomes evident in the shielding of rapists and repeat offenders such as [former BJP minister] Chinmayanand.”
The women demanded tangible and immediate measures to be taken by the government to put a stop to the violence. A protester, Poonam said, “Rape and sexual violence need to be dealt on scientific basis with evidence. We are demanding that chargesheets need to be filed in these cases as soon as possible. The severity of the crime is not a priority, but the certainty of punishment is the key.”
The protesters added that while the narrative is being shifted towards capital punishment and death penalty, key questions about more crucial steps remain unanswered; such as: why was there no lighting on the streets? Why was there no police?
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