Congress spokesperson and Delhi MLA Alka Lamba believes that the situation is not going to improve for women in the country for the next five years. She was speaking in the backdrop of the heinous gang-rape and murder of the veterinarian in Hyderabad and several other rapes which were reported last week. She underscored that according to the ADR report, BJP had the highest number of MLAs and MPs facing rape charges.
“For the next five years we have to be very worried for our girls and we can only pray for their safety. We have a party in power which is protecting rapists. We all know what is the background of our home minister Amit Shah under whom law and order is? So, what can be expected from them,” highlighted Lamba, who had recently switched to Congress from AAP.
“Even when Article 370 was abrogated, BJP leaders from Haryana said that they will now get fair Kashmiri girls to Haryana for marriage as there is a shortage of women in the state due to female foeticide. That is their mindset,” pointed out Lamba.
Edited excerpts of an interview:
Why do you think India is unsafe for women?
According to the 2019 ADR survey, political parties have given tickets to 45% serious criminals and people voted several of them to power. Now, they are in Parliament. How can we expect such people, several of whom have serious allegations of rape on them, to bring about rules to change the society? Instead of simply lighting candles and shouting slogans,we have to look within ourselves and check whom we elect.
In 2012, the Nirbhaya case happened and several people got out on the streets. Since then several slogans have come out, including BJP’s ‘Beti Bachao, beti padhao’ and ‘Bahut hua Naari par war’, but all of it is for changing governments. These remain as slogans and nothing changes the reality on the ground. The reason behind that is criminals are elected as lawmakers.
How can we forget BJP MLA Kuldip Singh Sengar, who was elected as a lawmaker in UP as a result of such slogans? And then now he has been accused of raping a young girl and he isaccused of killing her father was killed. Later, the girl met with an accident and now she is in AIIMS in a serious condition. Prime Minister Modi has claimed that in India after hearing of rape cases, capital punishment was ordered in 7 days. I have not seen this happening anywhere in this country. PM Modi makes tall claims, but all of these are only campaign material.
After that we have seen BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj, who after winning the election from Unnao, goes first to meet rape accused Kuldip Singh Sengar in jail to thank him, instead of thanking the people in constituency. If this is the reality, how can there be any change.Then we the case of Chinmayanand. We have seen that he is a rape-accused and proof was given was his activities. The reality as it stands today is that the woman who accused him of rape is in jail and Chinmayanand, who has claimed to be ill, is in a hospital. No BJP minister has condemned it.
Earlier, at least the women and child minister would condemn it. Now, we have Smriti Irani as the minster. She was someone who would loudly protest such incidents in 2013, but now Iknow she can act well. Then she acted very well, ensured drama, but today her blood doesn’t boil when she sees such horrific incidents of sexual violence. She is today a Union Cabinet minister, and now she is silent.
Then there is an example of a BSP politician Atul Rai, who is accused of raping a minor. He won the Ghosi seat even though he did not campaign and was missing on both voting and results days. So, it’s not just one political party. It’s all, but BJP is particularly worse.
In order to change the situation on ground, what do you think can be done?
So, who is responsible? Is the political party or the people who are voting them to power? Or is the judiciary or the police? Currently, the entire system has failed. How long will all politicians demand a new law?
In the aftermath of the 2012 December rape case, fast-track courts were mooted. Seven years later we are still talking about it. A few years later also, we will be demanding the samething. There is nothing new. Every time a rape comes to light, we will continue to demand fora fast-track court or a special court to hear only instances of sexual violence.
Nothing has changed and in fact, the situation is worsening on the ground. BJP MLA OP Sharma derogatorily remarked that I am a woman who roams around in the market at night. This was said to insinuate something else. If we are talking about equality between the sexes and then if I say at night I won’t step out because I am a woman, then what am I projecting? I am a lawmaker and I will be there for my constituency at any hour of the day. His party is at the Centre today, so then what can be expected from them?
In the next five years nothing will change as 45% criminals are in Parliament.
We have to bring about changes in the society. Mindsets have to be changed. But, it’s not happening. These changes have to begin at home. There are men who come home and beat up their wives and children who grow up in such an environment are likely to think that it is okay to beat a woman. Children should be taught that abusing and beating up women are not signs of a strong man, but that of a morally weak man.
Everyone is talking about teaching women self-defence tactics. People are saying women should learn karate, judo, but how is that going to solve the problem. Baby girls are raped, 3-year-old are raped, 80-year-old are being raped, so what are we going to say to them?
Do you think the current law is adequate to deal with the rape cases?
Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, if a girl below the age of 12 is raped, the maximum punishment is death penalty. If a 12-year-old is raped, then the maximum punishment is death penalty, but not if you are a 14-year-old, 18-year-old or a 70-year-old. So, there are categories within the rape also. There is a thought behind these classifications. It is that, if it is above 13, then these girls must have initiated relationships with men on their own accord. It is again about blaming the victim and never about the man.
We are also given excuses that the man who committed the crime will marry the woman and the woman is forced to accept it. Is this the mindset that must be propagated in this country?Instead of standing with the victims, we begin to blame them.
Instead of showing them solidarity and giving them strength, we question these women.
Why are we not ensuring that the law is enforced? It’s not enough to make stricter laws, but we must ensure that no one escapes the law, even if it is a politician. If a woman is raped,then the culprit must be hanged. The age of the victim should not matter.
The 2017 NCRB data, which was released after a delay of two years, states that there were 3,59,849 cases of reported crimes against women in 2017 and of these, 32,559 were cases of rape.
According to Prime Minister Modi, all rape cases have been fast-tracked, so that should mean that all these rape cases from 2017 should not have still been in court. But, they are. We still don’t know the numbers from 2018 and 2019.
In 2012, BJP highlighted the Nirbhaya case. Yes, of course, there was anger amongst people too, but why are they silent now? Why aren’t they promising that the four accused in the Hyderabad rape and murder case will be tried in three months and if found guilty, they would be given capital punishment.
There are several human rights activists who say that death penalty for rapes is not effective and shouldn’t be demanded?
Our prisons are full. There is no space in them. People who have committed various degrees of crime are made to stay together. There are human rights issues within jails too and organisations are raising these issues too.
Why should the people who committed the heinous rape and murders of Nirbhaya and Dr Priyanka Reddy be kept alive?
In the aftermath of the December 2012 rape of Nirbhaya, the current Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had sat on a protest in the Capital. Why do you think he is silent now?
I have asked Kejriwal about his stand on rape. When the Nirbhaya case happened, he was not a politician and the party didn’t even exist. Now, they have MLAs, MPs and yet they are not out on the roads. In 2012, they were out on the streets even though it was extremely cold. What are they doing now? Why can’t they call a protest at Ram Lila Maidan and demand answers from the Centre. But, they will choose to be silent because Delhi is heading toward selections and they do not want to annoy the Centre.
But, when there was a UPA government at the Centre, everyone came out on the roads to accuse the leadership then, but no one will accuse the BJP.