Leaders in the state of Haryana, India are brainstorming for answers to explain why rapes have been increasing. Unfortunately, one of these solutions, apparently, is chow mein.
The Haryana district, which is about 1.3 Marylands or a little less than the population of Texas, has recently made headlines. In about a month (as of October 14th) this district has had sixteen rapes reported, and quite a few of them have been gang rapes. Each story of rape seems to become more heartbreaking.
A thirteen-year-old girl was raped for about three to five months by a fruit vendor. When she told her father and the authorities, she and her siblings were expelled from school. This came as quite a shock to the family and to her friends, and as of October 24th, the National Human Rights Commission has requested information from Haryana’s government to investigate reasons behind these children’s expulsions.
A tragic case unfolded where a sixteen-year-old Dalit girl in the Jind district was gang raped. She reported her rape, and in a fit of shock, doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire. IBN Live reports (trigger warning) Dr. Kuldeep Singh explaining that he could not save the young woman since her body was covered almost completely in burns.
In another case, a pregnant woman was raped by her friend and another man. This marked the fifteenth sexual assault or rape of the month, according to thehindu.com.
A young girl named Seema was gang raped by twelve men while they videotaped the incident. These men threatened to murder her family so she decided not to report it. After the video circulated throughout their village, the father reported the rape and then committed suicide.
“It is the boys on whom restrictions should be placed. They should be punished for their crimes, that will send the right signal,” said Seema after being asked about how the government should respond to these attacks.
Many of the women who have been the victims of these rapes are Dalit. Dalits are untouchables. Since many of these women are part of this lowest caste, Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Center for Social Research, posits “When there is a state of class conflict, rape is often used as a weapon to teach a lesson.”
Protests have been emerging in order to urge the government to take action. However, the Haryana government has its own agenda and has released several choice statements concerning the welfare of these rape victims.
One councilmen explains “To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chow mein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts.”
No, ladies and gentlemen, this is not a satirical quote a la The Daily Currant or The Onion. No, these are the words of a town councilmen. I think we’ve found the Todd Akin of Haryana.
The comments do not stop there: “Earlier, if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proclaimed. Yes, she is a woman.
Dharambir Goyat, Congress spokesperson even went so far as to say that in 90% of these cases “girls want to have sex intentionally but they don’t know that they would be gang raped further as they find some lusty and pervasive people in the way ahead.”
While some leaders claim there is a conspiracy to create fake rape reports in the state of Haryana, it remains to be seen whether a decrease in the rapes will begin anytime soon.
It is unfortunate; we see a country of Todd Akins, Richard Mourdocks, and Paul Ryans attempting to strip women of their rights. But it is even more disheartening to see that there are still Goyats, and Banerjees, and others who try to excuse rape, abusing their seats of power in other areas of the world. It is up to us, the women of the world, to create the change that we hope to see, and to make our world a safer place.
Written by Nicole Del Casale
Header image courtesy of Mustafa Quraishi/Associated Press