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Hyderabad rape and murder: Did anything change since 2012?

Public performing Candle march in remembrance of Hyderabad rape victim

Hyderabad, Dec 05 (UITV): It’s like 2012 all over again: the similar objections the similar demands for lynching and castration, the similar cries of “hang them”, the same talk of “fast track courts”, the similar type of candle marches and protests. The unforeseen succession of similar stories of rape and attempted rape are now everyday news. Since the horrific Hyderabad rape and burning alive of a young vet, there have been reports from various parts of the country of other incidents. A story came from Rajasthan of a rape of a minor girl. The Jharkhand police arrested 12 men for the gangrape of a law student in Ranchi. Yesterday, the Unnao rape victim is set ablaze by her rapists who are now on bail and roaming free.

Even the profiles of the accused in the Delhi 2012 gangrape and murder, and the ones in the Hyderabad case now, are similar. It was a criminal-minded bus driver and his associates then; it’s a truck driver and cleaners now. On that occasion too, the men had committed the terrible crime in an evening of “fun”.

The hardcore Delhi accused, except one who was a juvenile, were sentenced to death. One, the driver and key accused Ram Singh, was found hanging in his jail cell, dead. The sentences of the rest have not yet been carried out, seven years after the crime.

Women's rights activist Swati Maliwal performing hunger strike in protest of Hyderabad brutal rape case

Has anything at all changed in context to rape in India between 2012 and now? Will anything ever change if all of those men had been strung up from the nearest pole? I have my doubts.

There are enough laws and sufficient scope for stringent punishments for crimes such as rape and murder is clear enough from the fact that those men in Nirbhaya case got death sentences. Yet, even the fact that murder is punishable by life sentence or death has not ended murders. Similar punishment for rape is equally unlikely to end rape.

It is a known fact that conviction, not severity, of punishment acts as a discouragement. In India, the fact of the matter is that criminals generally assume that they can get away with crime. The police at ground level is supposed to be corrupt and inefficient. The judiciary works at glacial pace under the weight of pendency of cases. There were more than 4.3 million cases pending in high courts around the country, according to a written reply by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to the Rajya Sabha in June. 8,00,000 of these are more than a decade old.

The idea of punishment, an emotional discharge, a satisfaction of the “collective conscience” by the announcement of a hanging, are all more popular with the public here. The drama and anger is what matters. Systemic reform is a long, hard and boring slog. It does not excite passions. Therefore, it is not popular.

This attitude of a ceremonial performance exchanging for real reform is deeply implanted in our culture. It is one that coincides and is in conflict with the desire for order, purity and hierarchy that are also crucial aspects of the Indian cultural and social life.

CM KCR continues to attend wedding feasts but has no time for rape victim's family, despite massive outrage

The way the desire for order and virtues conveys itself is not through following any Constitution, but through a return to medieval beliefs. The Telangana Home Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali on Friday insensitively remarked why the "educated" doctor called her sister and not the police. While he ignores the fact, that his very own telangana police washed off its hands and denied to register any FIR at first when the victim's family approached to complain. On contrary, it has now set an advisory that asks the Girls to share the last locations to her family members while travelling.

The CM KCR fasted for long time to divide telangana from Andhra Pradesh, but compeletely failed to govern properly. He has the time to travel 1600 kms. to Delhi in order to attend a wedding but does not even have the time to call & speak to the rape victim's family, let away visiting them.

Similar instance occured when, the rapists of Nirbhaya case were defended by their lawyer for the Delhi 2012 rapists and murderers, Manohar Lal Sharma, had said in a media interview that as an unmarried couple, the victim and her friend should not have been out at night. It was around 9.30 pm when the two had boarded the bus in which the crime took place. Sharma had also declared that he had “not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady”.

The religious guru, Asaram Bapu, remarked “The victim is as guilty as the rapists, she should have called the culprits brothers and asked them to stop

In a similar vein, the religious guru from Ahmedabad, Asaram Bapu, who is now serving a term of life imprisonment for rape of a minor, had foolishly remarked “The victim is as guilty as the rapists… she should have called the culprits brothers and asked them to stop… Can one hand clap?”

Similar views exist among conservative elements of other communities as well. Hindu, Muslim and Christian conservatives in India may fight over temples and food taboos, but views like Sharma’s and Asaram’s is held by all, differing not in kind but in degree. With such ideas deeply grounded among those who position themselves – even though they may themselves be rapists like Asaram — as the “respectable” guardians of societies and cultures, it is impossible to eradicate sexual crimes against women.