Tired and fought against the system: a 24-year-old woman, after being raped by a politician, saw no other way out but to set herself on fire in front of the Delhi High Court. A friend stepped out with her. By broadcasting their desperate act via Facebook Live, they achieved their final goal: the shameful treatment of women in India is now back in the spotlight.
The young lady accused a member of parliament from the rural Bahujan Samaj Party of raping her in his home. The victim filed a report in May 2019, politician Atul Rai was arrested a month later. The man denies the allegations but has been in jail ever since.
However, his family is making every effort to get him out of jail. In doing so, they are also trying to make his opponent’s life as miserable as possible. For example, in November, the student was charged with forgery, reports the BBC. According to the suspect’s brother, she would not have told the truth about her date of birth in her declaration.
Sad low point
The police issued a warrant for her arrest early this month on the grounds that the woman was untraceable despite several raids. Nonsense, her parents tell ‘Indian Express’. “My daughter has never absconded. I don’t know why they issued an arrest warrant against her. She was angry and disappointed. I want the government to take strict action against corrupt police officers. My daughter was harassed and tortured,” the family echoed.
The ongoing conflict with the authorities reached a sad low point last week: the woman and a friend traveled from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh to capital Delhi to set themselves on fire. Just before their desperate act, which was broadcast live on Facebook, they accused the police, judiciary, and politicians of plotting against her. This included mentioning specific names.
“The authorities have been forcing us to die since November 2020,” he said in a broken voice. “We want you all to hear this. The step we are about to take is painful and frightening. We are also a little scared, but we have no other choice.”
The duo were taken to hospital but in vain. The student’s body turned out to be 85 percent burned, she succumbed to organ failure the day before yesterday. Her partner had already passed away last Saturday.
Rai’s political party is said to have harassed and intimidated the victim since the declaration in 2019, her parents say. According to the BBC, two officers who were investigating the complaint against the woman have since been suspended. “They wanted us to withdraw the case, but we didn’t. Despite the threats, my daughter did not want to give up the fight,” it sounds.
Every 15 minutes
This painful story is part of a series of horrific crimes against women in India. Based on data from 2018, it appears that a victim is raped every 15 minutes in that country.
In 2017, more than 32,000 reports of rape were made. However, it takes too long for courts to rule. “There is virtually no protection for women. Criminals openly commit crimes,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, leader of the Congress party, lamented on Twitter.
Uttar Pradesh is led by the Hindu nationalist party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is considered the most insecure state for women. In December 2019, a 23-year-old outcaste died after being set on fire by a group of men. That happened when she wanted to go to court to file a rape complaint.