It’s shocking to first hear of a father rape his own minor daughter, and then to have the members of the panchayat mercilessly assault the survivor, blaming her for the crime
In an era where reading bad news has become a daily staple and the severity of crimes have turned ghastly by the day, the incident from Satara, where a father raped his own daughter and impregnated her, is exceptionally disgusting and repulsive. What does this say about our plunging moral ecosystem?
One of the worst crimes that can be committed is where one violates a person who one is expected to protect. A father’s relationship with his daughter is fiduciary, ie. one of trust. He is not just a financial provider to her, but is also her greatest source of protection in a dangerous world. When the protector turns defiler, can there be a crime worse than that? In this situation, it’s not just a sex crime that’s being perpetrated. The real crime in this situation is betrayal of that trust. Having been violated by her own father, the 13-year-old, has lost the ability to strike any healthy relationships during the course of her life. Her ability to think and believe in the inherent goodness of mankind has perhaps been tarnished forever.
The issue require serious deliberation here. It is more generic about the society. Why does a rape victim have to face continuing (even lifelong) trauma? What is even more shocking is the regressive mindset of the panchayat and the fact that she has been subjected to brutal assault by the community and the panchayat. They mercilessly beat her up for no fault of hers.
Why is she believed to have invited the calamity on herself when, in a free country, everyone is entitled to lead a life of one’s choice? Why does the social taboo of ‘being raped’ multiply the troubles of a victim, never the perpetrator? Why is the society callous towards the victim, and continues to berate her? Why is she not allowed to lead a normal life even after the crime, without anyone making snide remarks of her ‘character’? These questions say a lot about our society and its misfounded beliefs, but never elicit a sensitive hearing from our political leaders, opinion-leaders, family-members and other stakeholders (other than some well-calibrated lip-service).
But now times are a changing. This time round, our political leaders have taken a personal interest in the matter to seek justice for the victim. Our Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, DG Police Pravin Dikshit and Addl Chief Secretary (Home) K P Bakshi issued orders to the SP Satara. Reports say that the victims have been arrested.
According to media reports, the girl has been sexually assaulted by her drunk father, and is apparently pregnant. The Gopal community, which is a nomadic tribe, punished the father for it and even brutally beat up the girl for not disclosing the rape earlier.
In an SMS response to me, the SP Satara said, "Gopal community which is a nomadic tribe punished the father for it. Offence has been registered and the father and 4 panch have been arrested. The girl is in my office; sending her to medical examination." He has assured me that he will keep me updated.
The larger question is should we be ostracizing the perpertrators of crime in this case the father and the panchayat, or ostracizing the innocent victim who in this case is the 13-year-old girl who is only a victim of circumstance.
Can we move on to a world where girls are respected, nurtured and loved, rather than brutalized by their own parents?
The writer is a BJP spokesperson