In the eyes of the world, India is greatly admired for its social ideals ingrained in the values of democracy, and it is progressing towards gender equality. That said, for a citizen of this celebrated nation, it is quite appalling to see the hashtags: “Beware in sending your females to India”, “Women are not worthy as cows in India”, “India is women’s graveyard”, “Don’t make India a Rape Republic” or a number of other abrasive phrasings of the same bitter tone in public protests and on social media.
This is very much understandable for all those who are conversant with the present harsh realities in the country where the number of rape killings is horrendously high. All of those, like me, who feel proud of having been born in this noble country are now seized by a paroxysm of pain and frustration in the aftermath of the rape killings of minor girls that happened recently in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat.
Eight men are accused of their involvement in the brutal killing of an eight-year-old Muslim girl who was kidnapped, starved, drugged and raped repeatedly before being murdered in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and an 11-year-old girl’s mutilated body has been found abandoned in a bush near Surat city in Gujarat. The girl was raped, tortured and strangled to death, and the police are attempting to ascertain the girl’s identity and are searching for the brutal hands behind this crime.
These are just two chapters in the giant book of rape stories in the nation. Reports state that more than 40 percent of the country’s female rape victims are minor children, and there are many such cases that remain undisclosed to the outer world.
I googled for a word that aptly describes the vicious and monstrous rape and killing of our girls including the victim of the Kathua case, Asifa Banu. Although I read and reread all available synonyms for “cruelty” and their meanings, what I found was that similar linguistic expressions in all languages would be inadequate to characterize such diabolical acts. The hardheartedness of human animals is unfathomable, like the cold-blooded waves of a boundless ocean.
Various crime reports in India have recorded particular rape or sexual assault cases where the culprit is the victim’s father or close relative. In some cases, they are involved in the offense and are accused of abetting the malefactor.
How ridiculous the current scenario is where we witness the panic plight of some mothers who are afraid to leave their daughters with their dads. “My daughter will be back from school now. I have to get home quickly. Only her dad is there.” No wonder! These are the fear-stricken thoughts in the hearts of some of our mothers. On the other hand, how sad it is to see the public in a mad world like ours casting suspicious looks at men when they fondle or cuddle or caress children with an irresistible expression of human nature imbued with the emotion of love.
Where is India marching to? Is this the journey of progress to achieve women’s empowerment and gender equality? Remember, there is no woman if there is no girl. The beastly practice of ancient barbarous populations of burying infant girls alive seems like nothing when compared to the violence shown to girls in modern India. If things continue like this and social conditions even worsen, parents in the future will be forced to commit feticide of girl children because: “It is better to die before birth than get raped after birth!”
We should not forget the truth that these atrocities are happening in a great nation that urges its people to respect the dignity of women, as they are our daughters, sisters and mothers. Relying on a law and order system that is fair and free of discriminations on one side, and has every loophole for the culprits to exploit on the other side is not acceptable.
Crime rates will only be reduced when law and order becomes strict and stringent with fast trial completion procedures and verdicts of extreme punishment and the death penalty. India must emulate countries like Saudi Arabia and amend its law and order mechanism and judiciary system with regard to violent crimes like the rape of children.
Indians living in any part of the world are proud that their nation was once ruled by one of the outstanding female figures in the world, Indira Gandhi. Our nation gave birth to and brought up scores of great and renowned women. They were born in the loving hands of Mother India. They were daughters once, before they became eminent figures in the world. If they were raised well, their dreams were nurtured, and they are commemorated now with great pride, why are the present day lives of Indian girls filled with fear and anxiety?
The birth of a daughter inspires the light of love and happiness in the life of her parents. She should grow up to be a woman with a remarkable role in family and society. Indians should be committed to protect the life and dreams of the nation’s girls.
Every girl is a nation’s pride. She is the woman of tomorrow, the architect of society and the builder of a nation.
Wake up Mother India! Your daughters are calling.
Dr. Mahira Alungal,
Executive Director – Abeer Medical Group,