Support Swati Maliwal in her fight to get Justice for rape victims #Rape Roko (Stop Rapes)

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Babies, girls, women, old women - rich, poor, Dalits, upper-caste, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, outgoing, introverts – are being raped in India. Often, GANGRAPED. The number of cases are rising, the brutality and inhumanity is rising, yet empathy is falling. The recent gangrape and murder of an eight-year old girl in India has been used as a battleground for communal politics. The father of another rape victim was murdered by the accused before the police took any action. The people are angry but also in despair. So much has happened and yet, there is no response from the government.

Swati Maliwal - the chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women, a women rights’ activist and a grassroots leader for 13 years has been sitting on an INDEFINITE HUNGER STRIKE since April 13, 2018. According to her, “First, the criminal(s) rape(s) the victim and then the system repeatedly rapes the victim.” Her demands are to tighten the law and order situation to protect our women and children by -

  1. Setting up fast track courts for rape victims to ensure immediate, swift punishment to perpetrators. People do not fear the consequences of their actions because justice is so delayed. Where appeals to humanity have failed, fear of punishment can save.
  2. Employing more police personnel (in Delhi) using Nirbhaya funds (which are currently grossly underutilized). The police force is heavily understaffed and underpaid. They need training and there needs to be more vigilance so that we can prevent these crimes in the first place.
  3. Sentencing those guilty of child rapes to death penalty within six months. In general, I do not support death penalty but if that is what will get fear into people to not touch children, I will support it with all my heart. Women are often blamed for “inviting rapes”. Disgusting as that sounds, think of explaining to your baby girl how to not “tempt men”. Also, better start when they are born since even 8-month olds can be raped in India.
  4. Strengthening forensic labs so that there is scientific evidence for the crime to protect the victims and the innocent

Why a fast? How will a hunger strike will help? Why is she not resorting to the usual means to demand change? I can only answer that over the past decade, she has

  1. Fought innumerable cases of violence against women.
  2. Filed notices and recommendations and requests with various departments of the government.
  3. Sent notices to the police, fought against police inaction and demanded change.
  4. Fought against trafficking, including exposing warehouses where women and children were being hidden.
  5. Led many peaceful protests against various political parties, sometimes was even beaten up by the police as you can see in this video:
  6. Worked with various international organizations.
  7. Met with the Union Home Minister, the Lieutenant Governor (Delhi), Members of Parliaments, Commissioners of Police, heads of various organizations.
  8. Petitioned the Prime Minister (was detained while doing so) and repeatedly tried to reach out to the PM office.
  9. Led a work satyagraha where she did not go home for a WHOLE MONTH and worked non-stop from her office (after an 8-month old baby was raped in Delhi).

To all these efforts and the overall government response has been SILENCE. Nothing. No posts. No anger against brutal rapes. No action. (Recently, Ms. Maneka Gandhi talked about changes to POSCO act but it has not been followed through.) The government has only tried to use police intervention to break her fast and suppress her voice.

Swati Maliwal is my sister and I wish she did not have to fast. However, even though it is killing me to see her like this, I support her because I do believe she has tried so hard for many years to get the government to listen and only faced indifference, apathy or false promises. She is now fighting with everything she has got. She is fighting with her life. She is fighting for womanhood – for its right to life and dignity. She is fighting for us. Please let us fight with her and support her.

The Indian government is silent. They do not care. She is not a person with lots of money or political backing. She is just an ordinary citizen with an extraordinary will and drive for justice. The government thinks it can silence her because she is a small entity. Please let us show the government she has the support of the people.

Thank you for your support,

A concerned citizen, a woman and a sister,

Ayesha Maliwal

 (You can follow these trends on media for more information: #RapeRoko #StandwithSwatiMaliwal #justiceforourchild #justiceforrapevictims)