People marched on the Chief Minister’s Office in Lucknow today by the hundreds only to be repelled by the police using batons and water cannon.
Enraged by the attempts to dispel the crowd, more protesters are on the way. The reason people are angry is the rape and murder of two young girls.
Many of the protesters are women and yet another rape report out of the region has gotten people angry.
A body of a 22 year old woman was found on Saturday after being raped by a group of unknown assailants. She was murdered afterwards by being forced to drink acid and being strangled. The complicit nature of the police and the failure to re-establish confidence has resulted in federal police being deployed.
The usage of riot measures to deal with protesters has only strengthened their resolve and the new rape has caused more women and men to take to the streets in anger of an unsafe India.
The thing to remember is that these incidents are not new or a product of modernity. But things that have happened behind closed doors and hushed up. Both last Tuesday’s rape and murder and this Saturday’s rape and murder would simply have not been reported. But the tightening of laws needs to also require the application of laws. More police training and sensitivity to women is needed and we need to start teaching boys to not rape.
Some women’s groups argue that the low conviction rate for rape should be challenged with more effective policing rather than stiffer sentences and I am inclined to agree with them. Executing and jailing rapists for life is merely revenge, we need to think long and hard about violence towards women in India.
India won’t change in a day, but this is a step in the right direction with people asking the right questions. Punishment is merely revenge. What we should seek to do is eliminate rape and we do that by education and empowerment.
A huge number of women are raped when they go out in to the fields to relieve themselves. Large parts of India lack solid bathroom facilities and people have always relieved themselves outdoors. A common drive to increase toilets may keep women safer, but ultimately safety will only occur when men respect women and cease to think that they can help themselves to a woman.
We can accept that this is a case of ideology. Of men thinking they can do this and get away with it. In fact they would have if not for international scrutiny.
That is why these young men and women are angry and marching on the streets.
The usage of force to disperse the protesters shows yet again that politicians are completely out of touch with the people on the street marching.