Friday, July 29, 2016

Are Cows More Important Than Women In India?


Is religion easier to sensationalise in our country?

For the past few days a news story has forced me to think hard on what the priorities of this nation really are. Yes, I am talking about the move to prohibit meat for four days in Mumbai, coming a few months after the controversial beef ban in Maharashtra, for the Jain festival of fasting.

The ban was first imposed by the Congress in 1994. Back then, it was just for two days. Now, it’s one two ka four, thanks to the city’s civic body, dominated by the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, prohibiting the slaughter of animals and sale of meat, beginning Friday.

Social media has erupted at the news of the ban, referring to this as a breach of personal freedom. It is something even the BJP’s coalition partner, Shiv Sena, that has a majority in the civic body, feels is insupportable, claiming it is a political move to appease the Jain community in Mumbai, which is going to polls in 2017. The BJP’s fashionable spokesperson, Shaina NC explained this, however, as “respecting religious sentiment”.

And to her, I want to say, since she’s also a woman and an educated, south Mumbai elite, madam, are cows, chickens and goats more important than our own gender?

Let me put my argument in perspective. An average of 317 women and children were raped and 1,050 molested each month in Maharashtra, that is suddenly launching sermons of religious tolerance, between January and May this year.
These horrifying statistics were part of the figures placed before the Assembly in July by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis which further stated that 2,394 cases of children being kidnapped were reported across the state during the same period.

According to the data, 1,585 rape cases were reported during the first five months of 2015 and 11 cases of attempted rape were registered during the same period.

Apart from these, 5,250 cases of molestation of women and children were registered in various police stations of the state. The statistics revealed that there were 5,035 cases of crime against children. Of these, 196 girls were reported kidnapped and 96 raped.

Fadnavis, who incidentally also heads the home department, had claimed in a written reply given to all party MLAs that all police commissioners and district police headquarters controlled crime prevention units as well as special cells to assist victims in getting speedy justice.

“There are special committees to ensure the safety of women at every level of policing,” he noted. Have these cases of sexual violence against women and children been fast-tracked since? Does anyone keep an account?

In March 2015, Union minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi told the Lok Sabha that the number of cases registered for rape and assault on women was on an upswing, with the highest number of such cases being in Maharashtra (13,827).

Yet, banning meat remains the biggest priority of politicians in a state shaken in August when a 22-year-old woman was gang-raped by four men in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district. The victim, an employee of a private firm and resident of Beed district, was on a visit to the city.

Accompanied by a friend, she was accosted by a group of men on a motorbike. While two persons held and assaulted her friend, the others dragged the woman to a nearby field, and all of them took turns to rape her.

Before this, in July, a 17-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped twice in Maharastra’s Jalna town. The victim was raped for the second time when the police asked her to meet the accused, hoping to catch them red-handed, but failed. The two alleged rapists were later arrested.

Is religion that easy to sensationalise in our country? Are women worse than cattle?

It is BachpanBachao vs Gau Mata. Who will win?

#Sexualharassment, #Rape#MeatBan

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