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– Swati Maliwal, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW)

Her comment comes in light of the rape case in India right now that has devastated the nation; that of a 4 year old girl who was brutalized and gangraped by neighbors. She was missing from her home in North-West Delhi on the evening of October 10 and later found by a passerby lying and crying near the rail line close to her home. The girl was playing outside her house when she went missing. Her grandparents tried to look for her but she could not be found. Once she was found she was rushed to the hospital where it was confirmed that she had been raped and sodomized. Although she survived this attack, the injuries sustained are grievous and she will require several surgeries. After she undergoes and recovers from these surgeries at Safdarjung Hospital in New Delh, a psychiatric team will be appointed to counsel her. The family of the 4 year old girl is distraught. Her mother is inconsolable.

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The awful truth is women and girls are raped in India everyday. It has been reported that only 9 people were convicted of such heinous crimes in Delhi in 2014. People in Delhi, across India and worldwide are waiting on legislative changes and harsher punishment. As a Southasian, reporting such news devastates me. It was only 3 years ago that the world was horrified by the gangrape of Nirbhaya in Delhi. She was sent to Singapore for further medical treatment but passed away soon after.

Some might argue that there has been a positive outcome out of the public outcry for these cases; that more victims are speaking up and reporting crimes. Therefore that explains the marked increase of reading about these crimes and has created an increase in statistics pertaining to crimes against women and girls since the Nirbhaya case.

However you look at this, it is saddening to know that India’s women and girls are not safe in their capital and across the country. India’s daughters are at risk of being molested, kidnapped, raped, murdered, even teased and thrown acid at every single day.

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My immediate concern after reading about this 4 year old girl’s ordeal is: What is going to happen to her and her family? How will she survive the trauma and what will it be like growing older? How will she feel when she reads of more cases? How will she face the men in her life? How will her family recover from this?

When we see educated young women in India being harassed and brutalised, it speaks of a power struggle and of men trying to reclaim their authority. When women are chastised for not dressing appropriately, it speaks of the moral dilemmas between a country of cultural traditions versus a nation working towards cosmopolitism and technological, infrastructural progress. When we read about an old nun being attacked, we reflect on the safety and vulnerability of women in India. When we learn of a girl child’s rape, there is little justification and explanation. How does one wrap their head around why this happens to a 2 year old or a 4 year old girl child of India, who have not yet grasped the lack of safety and security for their gender? Who are supposed to (and rightfully so) be concerned with playing with their friends, starting school and being children?

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This child comes from a life of impoverishment. Crime rates are reportedly higher for communities and minorities of a lower socioeconomic status. What can be done to prevent such crimes from reoccurring? How can we detract ourselves from the jadedness that ensues after reading about these atrocities time and time again?

How can we better protect India’s daughters?

Featured Image: Flickr user Ramesh Lalwani via Creative Commons 

 

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