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Trigger Warning: This deals with rape /gang rape/ sexual assault/ victim blaming/ victim shaming/ assault of minors and may be triggering for survivors.
Was she actually raped?
Was she pregnant?
Was there some other reason?
Did someone slap her?
Was she sick?
These were the statements, rather the counter questions, of West Bengal’s CM when asked about her views on what happened at Hanskhali in Nadia district of the state.
For those who are unaware, a fourteen year old girl, student of Class 9, died due to excessive bleeding after an alleged gang-rape. She was then hurriedly cremated on April 5. The girl was allegedly gang-raped on April 4 at the birthday party celebrations at the house of ruling party’s Panchayat official’s son.
The complaint was lodged on April 10 by the girl’s family, and the CM’s insensitive comments came on April 11. She even went on to express doubts over the cause of minor girl’s demise.
She went on to say unacceptable things like – This was a case of love affair. The family knew of it, the neighbours knew. If boys and girls fall in love, I cannot intervene.
Furthermore, she added – The girl died on April 5 but complaint was lodged on April 10. If there were doubts over her death, why wasn’t the complaint lodged right on that day?
The remarks have drawn negative and angry reactions from all sides – opposition, rights activists, girl’s family, general public, and National Commission for Women. The High Court has asked CBI to look into the matter which only proves their distrust for local police handling the case. One of the petitions before the High Court read- even the highest executive of the state is calling it to be an incident of love affair, hence, people do not have faith that the state police machinery will carry out a fair investigation
What’s sad here is the extent of insensitivity shown by a woman. It’s degrading, and also, terrifying.
Raising doubts over the cause of the minor’s death without proper investigation, calling her pregnant, or sick, and blaming her family for acting late is utterly disrespectful and shameful.
We do not know the circumstances under which she was cremated/ forced to be cremated and/or the state of forensic reports. We also do not know if the family was under pressure to not lodge the complaint. It’s always very difficult to go against the influential.
For the unversed, any sex with a minor is rape. There is no question of love affair and/or consent. This is a POCSO case. There are special laws to deal with the cases of sexual assault on minors. To say that she cannot intervene and that everyone knew of the affair is a direct intention to bring shame to the girl and her family and putting them under the spotlight and blaming them yet again.
And it is beyond comprehension to say that someone could die of bleeding after being slapped.
There is a lot more to the story and the girl’s family seeks answers.
The remarks are not only highly condemnable and triggering, they also attempt to influence the investigation. One must understand that going against the influential always takes longer time, especially if they belong to the ruling party because of their power over the state police.
Two people have been arrested so far. The main accused is, apparently, not a minor.
CM then sent one of the Members of Parliament, a known face and a vocal voice of her political party, to go meet the girl’s family. But the damaged had been done already. This damage control measure is purposeless now. The family needed support, protection and prompt action and assistance earlier, not now, when everyone is waking up because the news has caused a stir. Madam CM’s words have already done irreversible and irreparable damage.
This also comes at a time when, according to Newsworthy With Anubha Bhonsale, in the last 40 days, at least 15 cases of rape have been reported in West Bengal, in many of which the accused are members of the ruling party of the state of West Bengal – March 3, South 24 Parganas; March 22, Basirhaat; April 1, Burdwan; April 10, Bolpur – cases being some of them.
For a party whose slogan is Maa, Maati, Maanush it’s, time to see Maa, Maati and Maanush not through the political lens. It’s time to see things first as a human and then as a politician, it’s time to be human, it’s time to be more approachable and not act or say things on an impulse, especially if one is at as significant a position as that of the elected executive head of the state machinery.
That goes for all state, but sadly, madam CM lost the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the CMs.
Mostly writing, other times painting. Here to celebrate little wins. I am on the same page as you, just a different book - you read mine, I'll read yours.
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