I was researching the 19th century history of the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh for a factual story I am writing, and as ever, Google drew my attention elsewhere: the news story of a gigantic solar PV farm planned for the region. A far cry from the days of the British Empire I was seeking, but interesting nonetheless; so I clicked on the link.
It was after reading the brief report that I saw the headlines of other news emerging from this region. News that made me feel physically and emotionally sick but at the same time so angry I wanted to scream.
So I decided to write about this subject and tried to find the specific report I had read just hours earlier; but it had gone. Not disappeared, nothing can disappear from the internet completely, but it had been moved down as other equally horrifying news stories took the lead.
There is an endless flow of news reports retelling the repugnant and despicable activities of large numbers of men in India who see nothing wrong in rape, mutilation or murder of girls, some of the victims are still toddlers.
Now I know it’s not something you want to read or hear about, but living in a relatively civilised nation, and being a person who tries to observe all aspects of the law, I cannot just forget about what I have read and think that because it is happening on another continent that it’s not important.
Here is one report of a 15 year old girl who put up a struggle as six men tried to rape her and in response to her reaction, they set her on fire. She died from her wounds: http://www.lbc.co.uk/indian-girl-dies-after-revenge-fire-attack-101010
Another incident where a 19 year old girl was kidnapped and raped by a senior clerk in a medical college: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-19-year-old-girl-raped-in-uttar-pradesh-2038572
The report I originally read was about a 10 year old girl who was dragged from her home and raped in front of several villagers and her family, in retaliation for the behaviour of her older brother, whose crime also appears to have been sex related.
And it’s not just girls who are targeted, there is a report of an 8 year old boy who was kidnapped, sodomised and later killed.
These crimes seem to be happening every day in India and it’s not just in the rural tribal communities where education and law are largely ignored.
The behaviour is at best medieval but I think there is something far more sinister and therefore difficult to alter that allows this savagery to continue. The Sharia law is the main player in the legal system and despite the growing support for secular justice, the patriarchal system that has existed for centuries continues to use its brutal and barbarous behaviour to maintain a despicable male dominated authoritarian autocracy.
Sharia law combines the Qur’an, the Hadith and fatwas and even though it is meant to represent a peaceful existence, many people have not only misinterpreted the books, they have reinterpreted and repackaged the religion to suit their own brutality.
Yes education will help, as will the media and celebrities, but until such time as the law recognises the need to make significant changes, and the necessity of using the strength of the secular legal system to demonstrate this behaviour cannot continue, nothing will alter.
This all started with my research into the days of the British Empire, I am thankful to be part of Great Britain.