Violence against women is tragically a common occurrence around the world and age is rendered insignificant when committing horrendous crimes. On September 2nd, the police found a dead body of a 9-year-old girl in the Indian-administered Kashmir’s Baramullah district. The child had gone missing on August 23rd and was murdered the same day, as stated by the local police. She was a victim of a petty vendetta crafted by her step-mother. The step-mother instructed her 14-year-old son and his friends to gang-rape the 9-year-old, in her presence. Afterwards, she was strangled, her head was axed, and her eyes were gouged out while parts of her body were burned with acid to destroy evidence.
Five people including the step-mother have been arrested. The police chief that is supervising the investigation in Baramullah district, Mir Imtiyaz Hussain, said that “there is conclusive evidence for murder, there is [a] destruction of evidence in regards to rape. But we have got vital clues to prove the rape charges in the court. We have identified the culprits. Our job will be complete when the culprits are convicted in a court of law,” according to Al Jazeera.
Sexual assault was placed on the Indian national agenda after the 2012 gang rape case that shocked the country to its core where a 23-year-old female student was brutally raped and physically violated leading to her untimely death. Post this, the government implemented tougher laws, including the death penalty, and introduced fast-track courts to expedite rape cases. Despite these reforms, violence against females has not curtailed. Tougher laws will not deter men from committing heinous crimes until the values that plague the society change. Patriarchy dominates India and misogyny is so deeply entrenched in its social fabric that many do not consider rape a crime.
On many occasions, the victim is blamed for enticing the rapist. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav spoke against capital punishment for rape cases citing that “boys will be boys … they make mistakes.” Blinded by their misogyny, objectivity seems to evade many in the country. The rape culture that persists in India is also because of false beliefs of male and female sexuality, where men are thought of as starving animals unable to control their physiological needs and the onus is placed on women to resist them. Therefore, when a victim is raped, it is shrugged off as undoubtedly their fault instead of holding the perpetrator accountable for his actions.
The recent atrocity is part of a series of brutal rape cases that have occurred in India. In April, an 8-year-old girl was gang raped and murdered in Rasana village near Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. In Chennai, an 11-year-old girl was gang raped by 17 men over the course of seven months. CNN news reported the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) findings which stated that an estimated 39,000 women and children were raped in 2016, equalling more than 100 a day, or one every 15 minutes.
India needs to protect its women. The state has failed them on several occasions and continues to do so. State officials need to realize that severe punishment might have dire consequences. By enforcing capital punishment, the law might encourage rapists to murder their victims to save themselves from death row by eliminating the person that could convict them. Thereby this social disease needs to be resolved from the root vs. the symptom alone using education as a major tool of social consciousness to curtail this menace.
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