By Mihika Kapoor,

The above words that are generally associated with men celebrating victories in war and conflicts. Out of the above three, rape is the most unforgiving of them all. Women who have no part in these conflicts tend to be the victim due to the need of establishing superiority by the victors. The past gave rise to the unfortunate practices of Sati and Johar in our society. This is a crude action that is commonly found in the streets of India clearly display how women are regarded as “inferior” and are just “sexual objects or a piece of property.” As a member of the female gender, knowing that inadequate actions have been taken after cases such as the Kathua case, the Nirbhaya case and the Unnao case, makes me questions the importance and value of my gender in society.

These three cases have forever changed the way I perceive the government and society. After Nirbhaya’s tragic demise I would expect that the government would be more willing to enforce more protection for my gender. After Nirbhaya’s passing I learnt I needed to quicken my pace after 730 pm and constantly look over my shoulder. Having people taking photos and cat-calling my friends even after us saying no makes me feel unheard. They can whistle at us and won’t stop when we ask them to. So what I learnt from this is that my “no” is not powerful enough, my consent has no meaning, and god forbid that I would be the next Asifa or Nirbhaya.

Asifa, a young 8-year-old girl from Rasana near Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was raped and murdered in January 2018. This case has shaken up the entire country, and the sense of justice calls people to the streets. Candle-light marches will be held on 23 March in Mumbai and across India to create an awareness. So that all our protests/voices can be heard by the government and society because as I learnt a woman’s “no” isn’t audible and has no meaning at all, but maybe just maybe this time the voice of a thousand women will be heard by the government and the society.

Years of oppression have to lead to governments and rulers being deaf to the cries of help from women. When a woman or man in favour of gender equality speaks up they are to be silenced by the government or law.

Asifa’s family didn’t just have to fight a case for justice for their daughter and many other women but for just following the Islamic faith.

“We request the Supreme Court to transfer this case to some other state,”

“We are apprehensive that the trial will not happen peacefully, seeing the condition in Jammu… Seeing that lawyers opposed it in Kathua and did not let the chargesheet proceed,” a lawyer of the family said. “We request the Supreme Court to transfer this case to some other state,” the lawyer added.

If no justice is given to her family what is stopping another rape from happening again? The government itself is also at fault. The government by profession is supposed to serve the people. But two of BJP’s officials, Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga defended the arrested parties. They attended the protest that defended the accused murderers and rapists claiming their innocence. India’ beliefs split the public into two halves, one side of the public spoke against defending the accused criminals while the others blamed young 8-year-old Asifa for her own rape. Lal Singh and Prakash Ganga resigned the next two days after a public outcry for BJP’s inaction against its ministers.

Lal Singh and Chandra Prakash Ganga took part in the Hindu Ekta Manch on March 1 in support of the accused in the Kathua case. In one of his interviews, Lal Singh said, “Why such a hullabaloo on the death of this one girl…many such girls has died here.”

Astounded by the fact he acknowledged that many women are raped but yet not considering it as a serious crime. For this rape is just another one of the ten thousand and now over time this has just become a norm in our society, and it isn’t worth making a “hullabaloo” over as respecting women isn’t a priority in our society.

However, after receiving pressure from the people Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh submitted his resignation on Friday. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who chaired an emergency meeting of PDP legislators in Srinagar, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for defusing the situation, adding that a sense of justice had been reinforced in the state. However, it is important to note that the first words from the PM came only after social media pressure.

A 17-year-old girl from Unnao was raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. A man she considered her bhai or brother. Is this what the world has come to? A girl getting raped by a man she trusts and treats as her brother, just so he can please his ego and feel more powerful?

‘I used to call the BJP MLA Bhaiyya until he raped me,’ says 17-year-old Unnao girl, “It was June 4 last year. I was asked to go into a room, where he raped me. Later, I was told that my father and family would be killed if I opened my mouth. I did not speak about it to anyone until I was kidnapped by some of his people a few days later, on June 11. They gang-raped me for a few days and sold me to someone from whom I was recovered,” claimed the 17-year-old victim.

Her family moved to Delhi and reported this to other government officials.

“Mere papa ko khub mara… pani dal-dal ke maar rahe they neem ke ped se bandh ke… koi nahin bola… dadi toh wahin behosh ho gayi thi… hum wahan wapas nahi jayenge”

“Mere papa ko khub mara… pani dal-dal ke maar rahe they neem ke ped se bandh ke… koi nahin bola… dadi toh wahin behosh ho gayi thi… hum wahan wapas nahi jayenge (My father was beaten badly… they were pouring water on him while beating him after tying him to a neem tree… no one said anything…. my grandmother fainted right there… we won’t go back),” said the 11-year-old sister of the victim.

Her father was beaten up just because he stood up for his daughter and his family’s dignity. Her father has died while being held in police custody and no clear reason for his death is known to the public, though many theories are spun that don’t work in the favour of the government. How can we speak of progress when women are silenced and men are killed when defending women? How can rape and murder ever be justified even if it is done by a government official? This sickening problem is wired into our culture and it needs to be uprooted. Because women aren’t objects to objectify, we aren’t objects to be sold and we certainly aren’t toys to be played with and thrown away. With more issues like this that are being brought to light, we are more than willing to fight for our respect and rights.