Had the girl been a Hindu and not a Muslim, perhaps those men would have captured, imprisoned, raped, and finally killed her in exactly the same way.
From Europe and America the news has come of Christian priests raping young boys inside Catholic churches. I haven’t investigated how prevalent it is in other Muslim countries, but I have often read in the newspapers of Bangladesh about Imams raping children in mosques, of a teacher at a madrasa raping a four, five, or six-year-old girl student inside the madrasa.
Now I’ve been told that some people brought an eight-year-old girl into a temple in Jammu and gang-raped her. One of the accused is Sanji Ram, who had the responsibility for looking after the temple. His relatives as well as two police officers, their friends, kept the eight-year-old girl imprisoned inside the temple and raped her. The girl used to take horses out to graze in Jammu. When one of her horses was lost, she went looking for it in the jungle, which is when the gang of rapists captured her and imprisoned her in the temple. After raping her for several days in succession, the valiant heroes smashed the girl’s head in with a rock and murdered her.
Had the girl been a Hindu and not a Muslim, perhaps those men would have captured, imprisoned, raped, and finally killed her in exactly the same way. Both the poor and the rich know that killing the poor usually reduces the chances of trouble. I don’t believe that those men would have allowed the girl to walk unscathed in the jungle had she been a Hindu.
A rape takes place in India every 14 minutes. Hindu men rape Hindu women every day. They don’t spare anyone, from old women to one-year-old children. Muslim men rape in the same way. They don’t spare any women of any age. Those who rape are usually not interested in the name, address and religion of those they are raping. They’re only concerned with the body. Or they only consider the ‘valiance’. There is no lack of people in the world who think barbarity is bravery.
Raping the women of the enemy is nothing new. Like elephants, horses, land and houses of the enemy, their women too are considered property.
Subjugating the adversary by raping the women is an age-old practice. After killing the Jewish people in Arab lands, Prophet Mohammad had distributed the Jewish women amongst his militant companions for their pleasure. Pakistani soldiers raped two hundred thousand women in the Liberation War of Bangladesh. Both the troops and their victims were Muslims, but resistance was a bigger factor than religion. The Pakistanis looted and pillaged the homes of Bengalis and set them on fire, and raped the women. The war provided an opportunity.
To be honest, there is no war between Hindus and Muslims in India. It is true that some people are trying to provoke a conflict, but the conflict has not reached the proportion where Hindus will rape Muslim women in droves or vice versa. Hindu men have raped Hindu women a hundred times more than they raped Muslim women. It’s the same story with Muslim men. It is not as though either of them has vowed to rape women of the other religion alone. They do it when they get the opportunity.
Had Hindu men never raped Hindu women, I would have assumed the Hindu males of Kathua raped the eight-year-old girl because she was a Muslim. If Muslim men only raped Hindu women, I would have concluded that the war between Hindus and Muslims is increasing.
But society still has Muslims like Imdadul Rashidi, who did not want to start a riot by attacking his son’s Hindu murderers. There are still Hindus like Yashpal Saxena who prefer to forgive the Muslim murderers of his son rather than avenge his death. The Indian subcontinent needs Hindus like Yashpal Saxena and Muslims like Imdadul Rashidi.
In Uttar Pradesh, an 18-year-old woman has accused an MLA named Kuldip Singh Sengar and his brother of raping her. As many of us know, rape is not sexual intercourse, it is muscle power, male power.
It has not yet been proven whether MLA Kuldip Sengar has raped the woman from Unnao. But he did not rape the woman because he is a BJP MLA. He did it because he is a man. The powerful make arrangements to cover their tracks. And it is not a custom to punish the powerful.
The Kathua rape is being called communal, and it is being said that the rape in Unnao took place only because it was a BJP MLA. I believe that the rapists in both cases did what they did because they are men.
A patriarchal society has taught men that women are nothing but objects of gratification. Therefore there is no crime in gratifying themselves with women’s bodies in any way they please – no matter what their religion or age, what their caste or their lineage, rich or poor. And men have the right to humiliate them, to torture them, to crush them. Which is why men rape them. One rape every 14 minutes.
Rapes will continue unhindered in temples, mosques, churches and pagodas because the custodians of these ‘holy’ places are all God-fearing men. God-fearing men do not consider raping girls a sin as they are well-aware that everything – notwithstanding Ishwar or Allah or Bhagaban or their respective religions – is undeniably misogynous.
Taslima Nasreen is a celebrated author and commentator.