Where is outrage over rape? How do we keep sanity alive?  

Just five years after the huge public uproar in the wake of the Nirbhaya case in Delhi, the media, political and middle classes appear to be apathetic to equally horrifying rapes

Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Zafar Agha

She was raped in the middle of the night. Not only was she raped, her six-month-old son was thrown into the road where he died while the mother was being raped. Of course, the little one in his dying moments could not have understood what was going on with the mother.

Once the crime was done with, rapists fled leaving the mother to fend for herself. The child was already dead. But the poor mother refused to believe it. Forgetting her ordeal, she held the son in her arms and managed to reach home, where she consulted a doctor who pronounced the son dead.

She did not believe it. She decided to consult her own parents who lived in Delhi. She rushed to them. Here, too, she was told: no, it’s for real, the son is no more. Now, it dawned upon her that she was raped, too.

She was angry now and wanted justice. She boarded the Metro, with the dead son in her arms and reached a Gurgaon police station where the policemen did not register her complaint as a rape victim. “We are busy with the President’s trip to Gurgaon; don’t bother us. Go get the son cremated’’, policemen told her.

The poor mother, raped and burdened with the grief of the dead son, didn’t know what to do, where to go?

It all happened to a poor woman in the wee hours of May 30 and wasn’t reported until now. Do you know where it all happened? Barely 20 km from central Delhi, where the Central Government sits in all its might and majesty. It was Manesar, the outskirts of Gurugram, where Maruti’s automobile plant is located.

But, there is no outrage. Blood of no women’s group appear to be boiling; no candlelight vigil around India Gate has taken place. No political party is crying hoarse over the “injustice” being done to “womanhood” either. Neither Parliament is burning the midnight oil to pass a special legislation to send rapists to the gallows.

All this, however, happened when the Nirbhaya rape was reported in 2012. Women were out on the streets then; candlelight vigil was happening every night. Politicians were demanding special legislation on the right to hang even a juvenile rapist. Remember, hell was let loose on Delhi streets against a brutal rape inside the capital of India. And, rightly so.

Four years later, rape is routine in and around Delhi. News of rapes gets dumped on inside pages. Television channels do not even blink. Even this brutal rape on May 30 did not cause a ripple. Are we becoming insensitive to rapes or was the brouhaha in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape a politically-engineered show?

There are no easy answers. I can only say that we do have double standards about rape. When it is politically correct to protest about rape, we leave no stone unturned to protest with both media and politicians in tow. But, if it does not suit us politically, even a brutal rape like the one that happened on May 30 is brushed under the carpet as a routine crime report in the media.

Well, we are living in strange times. These are the times when rape is a routine crime story. These are the times when mob lynching is becoming a new normal. These are the days when cow vigilantes roam freely, killing people with impunity. We live in an era when an actor wants a novelist to be tied on a jeep and driven around to punish all liberal voices. These are the days when Dalits protest over blatant caste discrimination; farmers die in police firing; when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dips and the finance minister defends it with a straight face; when jobs are hard to come by.

Who cares? Life goes on.

Are we still a sane society; or is something seriously wrong with us? Will our conscience prick over a raped mother travelling with the six-month-old dead son in her arms and begging policemen to register her complaint who have no time for her? If it does not, we can be certain that we no longer live in a normal society.

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