Target: Ramsevak Paikra, Home Minister of India’s Chhattisgarh State
Goal: Demand that he apologize for his dismissive remarks about rape and work to combat the rising number of gang rapes in India
India has made headlines in recent years as activists, politicians and citizens react to country’s spate of gang-rapes. There has been much debate and discussion, some of it constructive, some…less so. Falling into the later category are remarks from Ramsevak Paikra, Home Minister of Chhattisgarh State, who recently claimed that rapes “happen accidentally.”
In the wake of his comments Paikra claimed he was “misquoted,” although the remarks were initially broadcast on television. His words were in response to the brutal gang-rape and murder of two young girls, ages 12 and 14, in Uttar Pradesh. This disappointing ignorance regarding rape and its underlying causes is unacceptable in one whose job it is to help protect the safety of India’s citizens. Such a fundamental lack of understanding of rape at the government level is a serious roadblock for India’s progress in women’s rights. Activists and concerned citizens are forced to combat the violence of the perpetrators themselves as well as the ignorance and sexism of their own elected officials.
Paikra’s words are dismissive of rape victims and essentially clear rapists of any responsibility for their crimes. Demand that Paikra take responsibility for his ill-conceived remarks. Urge him to make an effort to understand the underlying causes of rape, and to work with his constituents and other government officials to create real solutions.
Dear Minister Paikra,
Spilling a cup of coffee is an accident. Dropping some important papers in a puddle is an accident. Rape is not “accidental.”
Rape is a violent crime that is often dismissed, trivialized, and ignored. For a highly visible politician like yourself to comment that rapes “do not happen deliberately” illustrates at the very least a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues facing women (and men) across India and around the world, and at worst a desire to silence those who speak out against rape and sexual assault.
A government official dismissing rapes as “accidental” offers a convenient excuse for rapists while shunting their victims off to the side. A sweeping and inaccurate generalization like this one, spoken by someone with authority, exacerbates an already terrible situation. It is no substitute for stepping in and working to solve a problem that has become increasingly intense across India. You must take responsibility for your careless, ill-conceived words. You must acknowledge that you are in a position to help sway public opinion of sexual assault, although thus far you have done more harm than good.
I urge you to work with activists, other government officials and your own constituents to pursue solutions to reduce India’s high rates of rape and sexual assault. I encourage you to both educate yourself on the underlying issues and causes of rape and work to share this knowledge with your constituents. To apologize and acknowledge the seriousness of rape is only an important first step.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SKopp via Wikimedia Commons