In the last couple of days, the brutal gang rape and murder of an 8 year old girl named Asifa Bano in Kashmir, India has caused a national outrage.
For those who are still unfamiliar with the case, here is what I know so far.
One afternoon, Asifa’s mother had asked her to go to the forests to bring home the horses. The horses returned, however, Asifa did not. Family and neighbours went into the forests to find Asifa but were unable to find her. The family lodged a police complaint however, the police were not helpful. One of the policemen suggested Alifa may have ‘eloped’ with a boy. After protests broke out, two officers were finally assigned to the case. One of them, arrested as he was found connected to the crime. A few days later, Asifa’s body was found, tortured. According to investigations, Asifa was kept hidden at a local temple where she was given sedatives and later raped by the temple caretaker and his juvenile nephew along with his friend. The juvenile had invited his cousin to ‘satisfy his lust’. Later, a man from the police search party – was found to be a part of the kidnapping and was aware of the temple caretaker’s plan. It came to light that some police officials were bribed in order to take care of the situation. After a course of 3 days, Asifa was killed.
When I heard about the protests organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, I assumed they would be protesting for the justice for Asifa. I was wrong. Protests were occurring because all the arrested deviant individuals were Hindu’s and the victim was Muslim. It is reasons like this why I personally believe religion can sometimes cause more conflict than it promises to solve. There have been political parties and leaders going on strike to prevent officials from filing the charge sheet. I have also heard that this was a ‘plan’ to terrorise Asifa’s community to leave the area. However, I won’t be discussing that as I believe it strays from the revolting act itself.
I demand justice for Asifa. We, young India, demand justice for Asifa. Justice is not simply sending these heinous animals to jail. That is simple law and order. This is not about religion. This is about a brutal rape of an eight year old. A bloody eight year old. This is not about ‘These things keep on happening. Very sad.’ It is beyond me that some protests were defending the rapists. Are we so blinded by the thought of religion that we aren’t able to rationalise traumatic events? I cannot even imagine the trauma and terror this young child may have experienced.
We must fix mentalities. Stop laughing at sexist jokes when you hear one. Stop forwarding whatsapp jokes that sexually objectify women. It is a joke until it becomes reality. Our ignorance of ‘simple things’ like these is what perpetuates the problem even further. If someone is being misogynistic, call them out on it. Call out media that dehumanises women. Stop victim shaming.
This is not just problem for the government or our leaders to deal with. I think Asifa’s case can illustrate the problems of ‘misuse of power’. It is our responsibility as civilians to take action, spread awareness and ensure justice is being served. A whatsapp or facebook forward to display your condolences is not enough. Use your voice. Do not be a bystander. Step up before we get stepped on.