Hathras’ Dalit “Nirbhaya”, Paralysed After Rape, Dies. Why Hasn’t It Shaken India’s Conscience?

Social Commentary

Hathras’ Dalit “Nirbhaya”, Paralysed After Rape, Dies. Why Hasn’t It Shaken India’s Conscience?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Two weeks ago, on September 14, a gang rape so horrific that it should have shocked the conscience of the nation, took place in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. However, unlike the outrage witnessed for heinous rape cases in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, or Hyderabad, the Hathras gang rape did not garner much news coverage, until the victim tragically succumbed to her extensive injuries at a hospital in Delhi yesterday. In addition to the brutality of sexual violence, there is also a caste dimension to the case, as the victim belonged to the Dalit community and the rapists to the dominant castes.

A 19 year old Dalit girl from Hathras, UP who was brutally gang raped & as @rohini_sgh reported, her tongue cut off, spinal cord & neck injured passed away this morning! A DGP caught hitting his wife is still NOT ARRESTED by his MP police.
The BJP will never stand up for women!

— Tehseen Poonawalla Official (@tehseenp) September 29, 2020

Though all four of the accused have been arrested by the UP Police, and Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrant Vir has said they will be tried in a fast-track court, rape is a crime where prevention is always better than the cure. Regardless of the justice these men will face in the courts, the sad fact is that the victim will not be there to see justice done. She suffered spinal injuries that left her paralysed, multiple fractures, and cuts to her tongue during the assault, which proved to be fatal.

19 Yr Old Dalit Girl

Dragged by her dupatta tied to her neck

Gang raped by 4

Paralysed by the brutal Spinal Cord injury

Now DEAD #Hathras

— Shreya Dhoundial (@shreyadhoundial) September 29, 2020

It’s a matter of national shame that India is brought to a reckoning with its sexual violence problem with gruesome rape cases with depressing regularity. Despite the strong changes made to the laws in the wake of the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case, with death penalties being attached to rape cases, the problem continues to persist. Women’s safety in this country is a flimsy thing, and until that changes, cases like these will continue to haunt India.

Every day at least 4 Dalit women get raped by Hindu Upper Caste men in India! This country loves to talk about racism in the USA bit is proud of its caste discrimination and oppression for 3000 years. https://t.co/nAEl6417gg via @timesofindia

— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) September 26, 2020

The Hathras gang rape case has only attracted national attention now, two weeks after the incident and after the victim was beyond all help. Such is the plight of women across the country, in a land where their safety is merely an illusion.