Stop using rape cases for communal polarization

Priyanka Reddy

Four persons, Mohammed Pasha, Shiva, Naveen, Chennakesavulu who work on lorries as driver and cleaners are being held for the rape & murder of vet doctor from Hyderabad. Sadly Twitter is trending right-wing communal hashtag #B****kari_Mohammed_Nikala .

Isolating one Muslim name to use violence against women as fodder for communal scaremongering (100s of tweets saying “keep Hindu daughters safe from Muslims” etc) DIVERTS attention from the real solutions to prevent violence against women.

The present case is reminiscent of the 16 Dec 2012 case, where we may remember a driver Ram Singh and various helpers were found guilty. We didn’t blame Ram Singh’s caste or community – we shouldn’t blame the community to which accused belong. After 16 Dec 2012, Justice Varma Committee recommended better street lights, 24/7 public transport, more alert and gender sensitive policing, an end to victim blaming, changes in law. Varma Committee recommended AGAINST death penalty in rape law. Govts ignored most of these recommendations.

Governments have rushed to include death penalty in rape law, which Varma Committee REJECTED – while failing to invest in and be accountable to ensuring public transport, gender sensitive urban planning & policing, more judges & courts for speedier trials. How do they get away with this?

Governments get away with it by hoping the public will:

a) blame victims

b) indulge in dopamine-hit inducing, briefly satisfying cries for hanging, castration, lynching etc & forget all about demanding Govt do its job of prevention & support 4 victims.

c) communalise rape

Instead, every such incident should spur us to ask the right questions about what needs to be done to actually PREVENT rape and other forms of gender violence, and ensure justice for victims & survivors. Don’t rage-tweet, inform & educate yourself to ask the right questions.

First, why NOT ask for hanging, castration, lynching etc? Take the time to listen to my reasoning here, remembering it’s based on decades of experience & study, & collective wisdom of women’s movement.


Want to know what survivors and victims’ families go through, & how the Govt can actually help them? Read the excellent new book No Nation For Women by Priyanka Dubey.

If you want justice and also want to work to prevent and deter sexual violence, you could read the Justice Varma Committee report in full. That report is so good because the committee took 3 days to patiently listen to survivors and activists. The report may be read here.

Another must read recent book is The Silence and the Storm by Kalpana Sharma on the hell that survivors of gender based violence go through in India, to seek justice, and resilient movements supporting survivors & victims and building an enabling environment for justice, freedom and safety.

I’ve just finished reading Know My Name by Chanel Miller, survivor of sexual assault on Stanford campus & a rape trial that pilloried her. Read it, think about Farooqi case & ongoing trial in the Tejpal case.

In December 2012, a speech I made during the anti-rape protest, emphasising women’s demand for fearless freedom, not patriarchal rules & victim blaming disguised as a recipe for “safety”, went viral. It’s in Hindi, you can see it here:

In rape trials in India

– defence lawyers ask survivors questions about HER ideas on sexual & religious morality

– judges overturn rape convictions saying it isn’t enough for survivor to convince Court she said No, she must also convince the accused she meant No!

Don’t allow communal use of rape. Don’t waste time getting a temporary high baying for hanging etc on social media. Instead hold Govts accountable for measures that can actually make streets more women-friendly. Ensure a judicial system that doesn’t pillory survivors, doesn’t say “a feeble No can be a yes”, ensure Govts invest in more judges & courts so trials can go faster, ensure professional police that’s gender sensitive & relies on investigation not “confessions” induced by torture.

Critique media reports that focus on individual crimes that are TRP friendly, coz these tend to promote a culture victim blaming, spurring us to imagine what the victim could have done to “avoid” being raped. Demand instead that media give us the larger picture on gender-based violence.

*The above is based on a compilation of tweets by activist Kavita Krishnan. The piece has been edited for language and clarity. The original twitter thread may be read here



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