Monday, 2 June 2014

What You Should Understand About Uttar Pradesh Gang Rape

The story of how fields kill girls in India.

            Just few days ago story of two young dalit girls being gang raped and killed in Badaun sent shock waves around the globe. Rape in India… again. Last time it was loud in the media about rape on Indian soil in December 2012. Student in Delhi was raped, people went to the streets, candles were lit, protesters marched, banners were held up in the air, voices were screaming. This time however, it happened far away from Delhi, in some village we have never heard of. Journalists reported that some people were angry, political opposition in UP played their drama, procession of top politicians came and went, money has been proposed to soothe soaring hearts of parents. Nobody however, seemed to be surprised, maybe except for Ms. Mayawati.

            In reaction to the crime both local and international media writes mostly about toilets and fields. Seems like they identified number one enemy of Indian women and they won’t stop writing about it. I acknowledge that lack of toilets is a big problem across India, but it is not toilets and fields that raped 4 girls in Uttar Pradesh in only 48 hours. Yes, you heard me. There have been two more rapes brought to media’s attention, coming from the same state. Cannot imagine how many more went unnoticed.

            In all articles that I’ve read so far, I was informed how scary it is to defecate at night in the fields. How ladies have to wait till sunset in order to defecate. In the news all we hear is criticism of government inaction to provide latrines in rural areas and praise to Modi for promising to change this situation. I really admire the insight of journalists into the sanitary problems in India, but I can’t stop thinking that we are letting something bigger off the hook.

            First of all, I have to comment on political drama and complete ignorance. First reaction of current Chief Minister of UP shows us how annoying the problem is to those in power. When asked about his opinion on violence against women in his state, Akhilesh Yadav responded with simple logic – if you weren’t raped, you’re safe and well, there is nothing to whine about. He is not to be blamed, like any good Indian man, he is just continuing the family traditions. For those of you who don’t remember, his father (Mulayam Singh Yadav), current Lok Sabha member and ex – Chief Minister of UP is on record to accuse girls of provoking rape and excuse rapists “because boys will be boys, they are bound to make mistakes”. Wonder if he’s son ever made such mistake.

            Drama wouldn’t be complete without opposition leader, Mayawati. She enjoyed the seat of UP Chief Minister 4 times, she is a dalit women herself and demands Yadav's resignation, calling her own state a “jungle raj”. Why nobody is questioning her contribution to condition of low cast women in UP? I have been to Lucknow, I have seen rural UP, and conclusion is simple. Ms. Mayawati, during her cadency, was busy building monuments of her power in the state capital, forgetting latrines for poor girls who were raped and hanged on the tree on 28th of May. The visit to their family and sympathetic handshakes won’t help much. Media's focus on political battles is only taking away spotlight from the problems that need to be addressed.

            In all articles that have been published so far I found no mentioning of how women’s life in UP really looks like (except for latrine issue). 2011 census revealed, that average sex ratio in UP is 908. It means that for every 1000 man in the state there is only 908 women. In Badaun region, where infamous rape has taken place, ratio is 859 - even lower than state average. It places Uttar Pradesh in the club of states with worst sex ratio in India, along with Haryana and Punjab. Sex ratio is one of the indicators of discrimination against women present in the society. The whole India is on a mission to prevent female infanticide, and UP must be one of the hardest battle grounds.

Literacy rate might scare you even more. In UP 79% males were found literate in 2011 census and only 59% females. That roughly accounts for 56 million uneducated females in Uttar Pradesh only. My whole country has 38 million inhabitants in total - mind blown!

            I hope that these stats have put things in perspective for you, but that is not the most important piece. The reason I wrote this is because we should stop focusing only on the problem of public defecation and finally start talking about the rapists. While reading about pooping in the fields at night, have you asked yourselves, who the heck gets horny by a girl pooping in the bush?! Have you, even for a second, considered why are these girls scared of being raped, instead of normal things, like spiders and snakes out there?

I would like to ask all the journalists working for Indian and foreign stations to step up their game and start writing about real problems of discrimination against women in India and violence that they face, instead of going on for pages about latrines or following Mayawati's narrative and politicizing the whole issue. If you want to make it political, question Mayawati first.   

Written by Inanna 

More information about Badaun rape:

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