web analytics

Rapists in Indian Parliament, Army and Temples

Last week, India again made a headline around the world, after two girls aged 14 and 15, were raped, killed and hanged from a mango tree in a small village of Badaun in west Uttar Pradesh (U.P.). India has a long history of ignoring the sexual violence. But the gang rape of two cousins caused indignation across the country. The two girls, from a penurious family with no toilets in their home, disappeared on the night of 27th May after going into fields to relieve themselves.

In the near past another was the mass rape case and murder of a 23 years old female physiotherapy intern on December 16, 2012 in Delhi. The girl was raped by six men including driver in of the bus in which she was travelling with her male friend. The woman died from her injuries thirteen days after undergoing emergency treatment in Singapore. The phenomenon created a widespread national and international coverage and was criticised by Human right activists across the world.

According to The Marie Stopes Institute in Delhi, on an average 2 million women are raped in India every year. It is also estimated that only 1 out of every 20 is reported to the police and out of 100 rapists only 3 go to jail, only half of the cases are followed up, the guilty arrested and prosecuted.  As reported by Guardian ‘records reveal a rape is committed every 22 minutes in India’.

U.P. is considered to be a state where women in both rural and urban areas are more resilient, having seen examples in Mayawati (a Dalit woman) who thrice became Chief Minister of the state, Phoolan Devi (a brutally abused Dalit woman who later turned dacoit) become a member of Parliament. But incidents of the rape are encouraged by the apathy of Indian political leaders. Last month, Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party which ruled U.P. in very sense of the word told an election rally that his party was opposed to the law calling for gang rapists to be executed. He said "Boys will be boys and they make mistakes."

On June 18, 2011 the CBI charged Purushottam Dwivedi, a member of the U.P. state assembly from the Bahujan Samaj Party, in connection with rape on multiple occasions of a minor Dalit girl in 2010 at his home in Banda District.

The Election Commission of India requires that all candidates list their criminal offences on their nomination papers. The Association for Democratic Reforms, an Indian NGO, published a list of Members of Parliament (MP) and Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) who declared that they had been charged with violence against women (including rape, assault and outraging the modesty of women) but were still fielded by major political parties. In many cases, the general Indian public does not pay attention to these incidents and reports. The candidates with criminal charges and criminal records are still elected and able to reach the Indian legislature. About 30 per cent of the members of the 15th Lok Sabha of India had criminal cases against them. National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms sent a letter to newly elected Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on 20th May, 2014 bringing to his attention the disturbing fact that the newly formed 16th Lok Sabha has a sizeable number of 112 MPs (21%) facing serious criminal charges.

Gang rape, especially by criminals in uniform has also become common in India. The gang rape of Thanjam Manorama, a Manipuri woman by army personnel in 2004 stand as a saddening example. In this case in which extraordinary nude protest entitled “Indian Army Rape Us” provoked India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to rush to Manipur and move the Assam Rifles from the place. The other most commonly known case was the gang rape of 14 tribal women in Ujanmaidan (Tripura) by the Assam Rifles. The Kunan Poshspora incident also occurred when units of the Indian army launched a search and interrogation operation in the village of Kunan Poshpora, located in Kashmir's remote Kupwara District. At least 53 women were allegedly gang raped by soldiers that night. However, Human Rights organizations including Human Rights Watch have reported that the number of raped women could be as high as 100. Moreover, during “Operation Birdie” in Meghalaya, many Khasi tribal women were reportedly raped by Indian armed forces.

On August 23, 2012 the Delhi High Court convicted four former members of the President’s bodyguards for raping a 17-year-old Delhi University student in Buddha Jayanti Park. The student had gone to watch a program of the Dalai Lama at the park, located in the backyard of the Presidential Palace.

Indian law enforcement agencies sometimes also worked to reconcile rape victims and their attackers, in some cases. In April 2014 rape charges were dropped against India Army officers Sachin Gupta, 27, and Saurabh Chopra, 25, after they agreed to marry the 21 year old victim and her sister. In July, 2012 a YouTube video recording the sexual molestation of a teenage girl by a crowd of men in Guwahati, Assam, went viral, sparking widespread debate about gender violence. The local journalist who videotaped the incident was later arrested by the law enforcement agencies on charges of instigating the men.

In some parts of India, women and girls dedicated in symbolic marriages to Hindu deities i.e. Shiva, Ram, Vishnu etc reportedly were subjected to instances of rape or sexual abuse at the hands of priests and temple patrons. Hume Right activists have suggested that some girls were sent to these symbolic marriages, and subsequent service in temples, by their families to mitigate financial burdens and the prospect of marriage dowries. The women and girls were also at heightened risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Some Indian states have laws in place to curb prostitution or sexual abuse of women and girls in temple service. However, enforcement of these laws remained weak and the problem was widespread; observers estimated that there were more than 450,000 women and girls in this system.

Facebook Comments