“Where Are The Vociferous Women Now?”

Justice for Asifa protest in Srinagar

It is the same women who raised hell over Nirbhaya’s rape and murder during UPA rule; the same ones who speak out of turn in matters that remotely do not concern them, the same ones who keep talking about gender justice. Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani, Nirmala Seetharaman, Shaina NC, Meenaxi Lekhi, Kirron Kher…the whole lot of them.

Afisa and the Unnao girl are just the latest victims of rape and murder, but everyday at least 6 Dalit women and many others from other segments of our society are raped, some even murdered after the crime. It is the Constitutional duty of these women in power to speak on behalf of their kind who, besides rape, daily suffer violence, abuse and discrimination for being women. Yet, not one word regarding the plight of women in India has been forthcoming from these otherwise vociferous women in power.

Whatever little these women have uttered, has been to belittle rape, as Meenakshi Lekhi did while saying Asifa’s horrific rape and murder is ‘blown out of proportion’, or has been an attempt to absolve responsibility of the BJP for the crimes by asking the redundant question‘what about rapes that occurred when the UPA ruled’?

Is rape such a minor occurence that, fed up with the BJP’s culture of rape and violence, widespread calls from a society for the criminals to be booked, are considered ‘out of proportion’? Is rape and murder of a child so passé that one strives to minimize political fallout?

What about rapes that occurred during UPA rule? Those too were condemnable but that does not absolve the ruling BJP of its responsibility to immediately speak up and act against rape, whose occurrences have become a hallmark of its rule. Yet, that is precisely what the BJP has failed to do since it came to power in 2014.

The conspicuous silence of these women really isn’t surprising. The BJP government at the centre is, among other things, one that is immersed in patriarchy that finds its roots in fascist, anti-women, anti-low castes and anti-minority hindutva ideology. Hindutva, in turn is rooted in oppressively patriarchal Manusmriti. As Manu says “A woman draws her identity from her husband”, reducing women to nothing but servants and slaves of men. Going by Manu’s diktat, to which the BJP subscribes via its ideology, a BJP woman in power is an unpleasant necessity that BJP men have to bear with in keeping with societal demand for equality for women in governance. If they had their way, there would be no woman in government.

More importantly and ominously, the silence of these women is also their open acceptance of Hindutva’s patriarchy and of its abuse of women to reinforce it. It is their acceptance of the perverted belief of Manu that women are inferior to men and, therefore, have no freedom to express themselves. It is an acceptance of Manusmriti as the law that governs the lives of Indian women, not the Constitution.

The blame for the sharp increase in rape in the last four years lies with the BJP leadership. The fact that the PM took days to condemn the Asifa and Unnao incidents, that too in general platitudes, reveals the fundamental problem. The PM being the leader of the government is looked up to for direction. His always late and general platitudes over all kinds of IPC, economic and religious crimes committed by BJP folk and by BJP affiliated criminal outfits operating like Hitlers’ brown shirts and Mussolini’s Black Shirts, has sent the message to BJP MPs and MLAs that they can get away with crime. How else do you explain the brazenness with which BJP ministers in J&K and MPs defended rapists? Moreover, the PM and the President of the BJP themselves, by openly indulging in violence and hatred inducing patriarchal, communal and casteist speech, have set the trend for other BJP folk to follow.

The only solution is for the electorate to throw out the criminals masquareding as politicians, who, in the first place, gained power through patriarchal, communal and casteist polarization. It is heartening to see that society is waking up, that too a year before the general elections, to the kind of monster that the BJP is – one that patronizes rape, murder, loot, discrimination and suppression of the people in keeping with its fascist ideology. One hopes the electorate will no more fall for the lies handed over by BJP by the bucketful, lies about develop-ment, equality and justice, while its track record in the last four years reeks of regression, oppression and injustice.

Oliver D’Souza is an award winning author and Editor of Dalit Post and People’s Post


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