The sad reality in India is that rape has long been a commonplace phenomenon. As is, increasing religious intolerance between Hindu and Muslims.
Being a Hindu-majority nation, India has often faced challenges with uniting its various ethnic and religions communities. However, a recent incident, involving an 8-year-old girl Asifa from a family that was raped and mutilated has created enormous community outrage.
The young girl said to belong to the Muslim Bakrwal community, a nomadic tribe that grazes animals for a living. The alleged attacked has created unrest between communities.
Calls for justice for Asifa has since sparked greater flames, as those that sought to lodge the charge sheet to the courtroom in Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, were confronted and refused entry by a number of lawyers. These lawyers have been reported to be of ‘Hindu’ origin. The charges, which police eventually managed to lodge only after calling for backup, implicated eight men for the rape and murder of the child.
What is most troubling and distressing however, is where the incident has been said to have occurred. According to police reports, the victim was held captive and raped for seven days inside a Hindu temple shed with one of the eight accused Hindu men, being the 60-year-old Sanjhi Ram, recognised as the custodian of the temple.
Across universities in Jammu and Kashmir, protests have since erupted, in a largely peaceful plea for justice. However, more generally, the region has long struggled with a pro-independence movement since 1989.
Pro-Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often been accused of failing to speak up on issues relating to human rights violations against the Indian Muslim population.This culture of silence has done nothing to quell those eager to flair India’s religious divide.