Sikh Council UK stands in solidarity with the protestors and family of Manisha Valmiki, a 19 years old that comes from a so-called ‘Dalit (low caste) background. Manisha was gang-raped and violently attacked in Uttar Pradesh: her tongue was cut, her neck and back broken.
Allegedly, the local police force carried out the heinous act of abducting her body from the hospital and secretly cremating her corpse during the early hours of the morning without the consent or knowledge of her or family. A media blackout followed this.
This is resonant of the violent crimes conducted by Panjab Police from the mid-80s to late 90s against Sikhs, in which thousands of youth, both men and women were subjected to ‘enforced disappearances’.
Repeated instances of brutal and horrific sexual crimes in India have often grabbed global headlines over past several years:
Thomson Reuters Foundation has concluded: “India is the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman, that a rape takes place every three minutes“.
India Today magazine, in December 2019 wrote: “there was sexual violence pandemic in India, and that rape cases had doubled in last 17 years“.
In 2013, the case of Jyoti Singh nicknamed “Nirbhaya” was gang-raped and brutalised in a bus in India’s capital, New Delhi. It took her mother seven years of campaigning in media to get justice for her deceased daughter. Another 23-year-old girl, a rape victim, was set ablaze on her way to court to attend a hearing.
Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. Official Government Data collated in India lists 32,033 rape cases being registered in 2019 alone. This is an average of 88 per day. One case is reported every 15 minutes. Rapes of underage girls remained high, with 94% committed by perpetrators known to the victim.
In 2017, Indian Courts disposed 18,300 cases of rape, leaving over 127,800 cases pending at the end of that year. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there is a 30% conviction rate in rape cases in India. It appears that the state has joined hands with the perpetrators, to deny justice to the victims.
Women in India are not safe in homes, on the streets, at work or religious places in India. In many cases, the blame is transferred to the victim due to the cultural attitude against women in India.
We call for zero tolerance to rape and violence against women and urge the Indian Government to revisit the teaching of the Sikh Gurus who propagated respect for women in Gurbani and high moral conduct in our Rehat Maryada. Historically, Sikh leadership has created and safeguarded the respect for women.
Balvinder Kaur Saund, Executive Member of SCUK and Chair of Sikh Women’s Alliance said:
“Justice has to be seen to be done, to give confidence to victims of rape to report the crimes. Punishment should fit the crime, and no one should be allowed to buy their way out of court case, just because they have more money and power to do so.”
Surjit Singh Dusanjh
Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK
Manmagun Singh Randhawa
Assistant Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK
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