Washington, DC (April 17, 2018) — Rape is a crime, without exception: no matter who commits the crime, from what community they belong, and no matter who the victim is. Rape flies in the face of Hindu values, and thus compels us to offer condolences and compassion to victims and their families, and simultaneously work to ensure that the law and law enforcement work impartially and efficiently to deliver justice.
The details of rape and sexual assault cases being reported in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir which saw a 7-year-old Muslim girl brutally raped and killed, and Unnao, Uttar Pradesh where the victim was a teenager preyed upon by a state legislator, are shocking. The gruesome details of both incidents have sparked outrage and protest in India, and headlines globally. On the other hand, the rape of a 6-year-old Hindu girl in the state of Bihar this week, where the police similarly dragged their feet in reporting the crime, has drawn little nationwide attention or international condemnation. That all of these crimes were committed by men in power against victims who were children and possibly victimized because of their religious identities make these crimes all the more heinous.
The Hindu American Foundation unequivocally condemns all of these atrocities.
While the local police belatedly filed charges in all three cases, HAF is disturbed by the reports of police indifference at best and complicity at worst. This is unacceptable and HAF is following the cases closely — as are all Hindu and Indian Americans to ensure justice is delivered and families rehabilitated to the greatest extent possible.
HAF has long highlighted and documented how rape is used to humiliate and subjugate Hindu and other minority communities throughout South Asia. To read of alleged Hindu perpetrators in the Kathua case is equally shocking. We are outraged by all of these cases and will continue to work with our partners on the ground to help create a South Asia where rapists are brought to justice and rape victims are empowered to speak up and recover with dignity.
HAF is also deeply disturbed by increasing efforts in broadcast, print, and social media to perversely connect the rapes to the Hindu religion as a whole — as if Hinduism itself advocates for sexual violence — and politicize these horrific crimes. Images of Hindu religious iconography such as Lord Shiva’s trident being co-opted to score political points are unacceptable, distract attention from the fight for justice, and polarize diverse communities, especially when shared outrage about the grotesque victimization of these children is the need of the hour.