India is world’s largest democracy and 50% our population consist of women. The India of 21st century believes in equality and on one hand, we have young girls winning medals and becoming doctors, engineers, and scientists and making our country proud, but we also have cases of young girls getting raped, murdered and silenced just because they are different and not men.
The recent developments happening in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua have once again brought women’s issues to center stage. We all know what has happened in Unnao (17-year-old girl being allegedly raped by a BJP MLA) and in Kathua (rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl) have shaken our conscience and everyone is angry with these two incidents. But, what have we done about it?
Both these incidents are not recent ones as Unnao incident happened 10 months back and when the victim tried to commit suicide in front of Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath’s residence a few days back, it came in national media. Also, the 17-year-old girl recently lost her father in police custody under mysterious circumstances. As for Kathua, the incident happened in January and now state and media are waking up to cover this atrocity and wanting justice and closure for the eight-year-old girl.
We say media is the fourth pillar of democracy and it has a great responsibility towards society, but why blame media when the entire political class is looking the other way and is only passing the buck? Till a few days ago ruling party i.e. BJP, not many female MPs or even any political leaders were saying anything, but now they are speaking out under immense pressure and finally we heard from PM Narendra Modi condemning the act and UP CM Adityanath has now transferred the probe to CBI after immense scrutiny and pressure (as of now Kuldeep Singh Sengar has been arrested). The opposition parties are busy playing politics and Congress president Rahul Gandhi taking out a midnight vigil doesn’t make much of a difference.
India’s political class and the system has always treated women as second-class citizens and over the years we have discriminated against this gender and the incidents of rape, sexual assault, murder are on the rise every year irrespective of which government is at the seat of power. PM Modi proudly says ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, but the reality is very different as ‘beti’ is not getting a chance to live her life and is treated like some kind of an object. In December 2012, when Nirbhaya rape thing happened, there was a great outrage and everyone was on street and screaming their lungs out for change in system and thinking, but the reality is all the convicted men of raping and murdering Nirbhaya are yet to be hanged and we only remember Nirbhaya on December 16 every year.
The incidents in Unnao and Kathua raise a very big question on how serious are we to provide safety and security to our girls and are we only intersected in blaming each other and passing the buck. The acts of rape and murder of women are a blot on our democracy and if we can’t give justice to that 17-year-old girl or to the deceased eight-year-old girl then we are not a democratic and republic country and our treatment of women is not much different from other third world countries. Justice delayed is Justice denied and hopefully, our beloved PM Modi in future should speak about it in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and we need closure and justice for our girls so that they can feel they are not merely statistics and also an important part of our great democracy.