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Kathua & Mandsaur Rape Cases: Selective Outrage And Symbolic Empathy Challenges The Indian Democracy


Let’s be honest with what our country faces every day. In 2017, an average of 5 rape cases were reported every day and these were the ones that were reported. It should be noted that 54% of all rape cases in India go unreported. Keeping in mind these statistics, around 4000 women and children are subjected to rape or sexual abuse in some way or the other if these studies are to be believed. The strange reality is that none of these studies are done in India or by any government or private institution in India. These are the results of a study conducted by a student enrolled in the Master program of the University of Texas yet it has been used as a reference to condemn rape by reputable media houses such as the Indian Express.

I am not saying these figures are wrong, it is for all reasons possible that the number is far too higher than the given amount and the conditions are far worse but to make a study the basis of your argument is completely illogical and biased. The situation is even worse if someone from another country tries to enquire about a particular case in India for example: the Kathua case as covered by the New York Times states, “The girl came from a nomadic Muslim community in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The police say a group of Hindu men lured her into a forest, kidnapped her, drugged her, locked her in a Hindu temple, gang-raped her and then strangled her.” The same was covered by the Huffington Post as, “At the protest in Delhi, journalist and activist Arfa Khanum Sherwani said that the Kathua incident was a communally motivated act of violence and saying religion doesn’t have anything to do with the incident was misleading.” The point that is evidently clear from the above two statements is that both the publishers wanted to highlight the religious beliefs of both the victim and the convict and yet portray themselves as religiously independent publications.

The point does not end here, in the recent example of the Mandsaur rape in which a minor girl was raped by two adults, the very publications, The Huffington Post in this case stated the news as, “Mandsaur Gang Rape: Right Wing Trolls Communalize Sexual Violence Against Children.” Why does such hypocrisy exist in a field which of all fields should have been unbiased? It is the sign of a progressive nation where the rights of the minorities are fought for but that does not mean the majority is always wrong.

The recent trends show how people come out in support of one case and turn a blind eye to another and the most disturbing part of the whole situation is nothing improves a bit. The girl who was raped in Mandsaur is medically stable now and is out of danger despite a ruptured rectum and bite marks all over her body. Not one major media firm has reported this, why? Because this won’t sell and if it won’t sell, they won’t write it. Both sections of the society are being played by these publications who are nothing but pawns in the hands of the politicians.

What adds to the raging fire are the campaigns started by various influential people across the country. Not one of these influential people specially the Bollywood fraternity has the time to visit or help the victims out (with an exception of a few). The recent example of Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Kareena Kapoor Khan is quite prominent in social media. While I agree that excessive trolling of any person is not healthy but to use a tragic incident as a tool for advertisement is utterly disgusting. With almost a month to go for the release of their movie “Veere Di Wedding”, the actresses of the movie went quite viral in April on social media holding placards that said they are ashamed of the country they live in. Whilst the incident was shameful for the entire nation, holding placards only deepens the shame and does nothing to improve the conditions.

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Influence is a very powerful tool, people with influence hold power over the general psyche of the masses and when this influence is used partially it creates a massive gap between various sections of the society. Unfortunately all over the world people with influence mock the emotions for their personal benefits. The symbolic empathy shown is as unfortunate as the crime itself as it not only disrespects the victim but the democracy as a whole.

Reliability on foreign media will decrease if the current turn of events continue to stay the way they are and for the influencers in our country whether they be politicians, actors or sportsmen there is a quote by Vir Das, “A politician’s career is no longer a testament to a person’s ability but a testament to the patience of the masses.” This stands true for every person with influence and power over someone.

Also Read:

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