Raja Muzaffar bhat
Srinagar Jan 24: We as conscious citizens deem it as our responsibility to raise voice against such atrocities like the rape and murder of 8 years old girl in Kathua. We demand that women’s safety be prioritized without politicizing it. The incident comes when public was already caught off guard by the reports of rape and murder of a minor girl, Zainab in Pakistan and later multiple rapes in Haryana. This rape and murder was also followed by rape of a child in Tangmarg area too.
The Kathua minor’s case brings to notice a pressing need to address sexual violence as a larger issue. It affects thousands of women and vulnerable children, but only a very small portion of it gets reported. As per statistics only 1% of the actual sexual violence gets reported in India and it is 3% globally (UN).
The girl was too young to even understand the meaning of sexual violence, yet she had to bear the brunt. A child’s brutal rape and murder is an alarm for us as a society to wake up and understand that child abuse, rape and assault is a reality. This is not the only one or a rare incident. If we keep an open eye, we will find many incidents of sexual violence that women and children experience both at the hands of strangers and even from men in families. It is time to come out of the denial that we as a Muslim and pious society are not faced with such issues or we as a conflict society only need to focus on politics. At the same time, we need to change our attitude towards the cases of sexual abuse and violence : it is not a personal issue but a huge social concern, it is not able the clothes the victim wears, it can’t be stopped by adding layers of clothes on women and children or silencing them but by educating society, especially men and young boys. The relation of a woman’s or a child’s clothing and behaviour with rape has to go.
The case of Tangmarg for instance demonstrates the vulnerability of our girls and women even when they are within the safe confines of home. The myth that women and girls are vulnerable only when outside of their homes needs to go as well.
If the society, police and law makers get together, it is possible that such incidents in future are decreased. A knee jerk reaction, vandalism and politicisation of this matter is certainly not the solution. A long sighted policy on child abuse in the state, inclusion of gender and sex education in curriculum, a more robust policing system that is sensitive to gender based violence and child abuse, and a general openness about sensitive social discussions like this is the need of the hour.
Blaming only laws and institutions isn’t often the solution, it is us, the people who need to realize the responsibility as parents, as humans and as aware and conscious citizens.
It is time we shun the hypocrisy of justifying sexual violence on women based on their dressing or life style.
In the aftermath, an activist, Talib Hussain was arrested for protesting against the incident. Blocking proceedings won’t bring justice to the minor and neither will Talib’s arrest or the criminal silence of the government.
The people who are trying to create regional divide and adopting a community based approach should hang their heads in shame because the minor could have been anyone’s daughter. No woman today is safe and that alone should unite us to condemn the incident without drawing it’s parallels with women of Kunan Poshpora or like.
A cacophony of politicised voices is not the solution to such complex realities, it is not a solution to anything but to score points. A more nuanced approach is needed to deal with such crimes.
It is Not only the responsibility of one community, one class or one gender. We must unite against gender based violence and sexual abuse in general.
We stand with Bakerwal community and the family of the minor girl who lost her life due to our callousness as police, society and people. We are sorry child, we are still busy scoring points on your rape and death. We hang our heads in shame.
A stringent policy against child sexual abuse, a long term policy against gender based violence, resources and action in these neglected areas in required along with robust policing and swift investigation in the kathua minor’s ca
Kashmir Women’s Collective,
J&K RTI Movement