The Smallest Coffins are the Heaviest – Demanding Justice for Asifa

The horrendous case of the torture, gangrape and brutal murder of 8 year old Asifa in Kathua, and its socio-religious undertones, are shocking on multiple levels. On one hand, it is a clear cut case of violence against a girl child, in the most horrific manner. On the other, the fact that it is being pitted as ‘Us’ vs ‘Them’ debate, a Hindu vs Muslim fight, is absolutely frightening and threatens the multicultural fabric of our nation which we Indians are so proud of. If this doesn’t cause lax politicians to speak up, then we demand a total change in our political and justice system. We demand the Home Minister of India to speak up and take strong action, to ensure that this case is dealt with in the manner it is to be dealt with, and that such cases NEVER take place ever again.

On similar lines, the case of the rape, and attempted suicide of the 18 year old girl in Unnao, UP and the subsequent custodial killing of her father in jail, is reflective of the caste, and socio-cultural dynamics that play out in many cases of violence against women. Here, a politician has been accused of the girl’s rape, and her father’s killing, who vehemently denies it, calling it a political conspiracy. The police of the area is intrinsically involved, and has refused to take any action. We demand that the entire police team in charge of the station at Unnao, be removed, and a new police team be inducted, to deal with this case and ensure justice.

Lack of adequate utilization of Nirbhaya Funds

According to a report by India New England News, it clearly stated that less than 30% of the total amount (which stands Rs 3100 cr) has been used under the so called ‘Nirbhaya Fund’. In one of the responses to the RTI query by IANS, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) said only Rs 825 crore has been utilised from the Nirbhaya Fund — which was named after the woman — till date out of the Rs 2,711 crore that accumulated in 2017-18. The RTI query revealed that only Rs 50 crore has been utilised by the Railway Ministry, which was given Rs 500 crore from the fund for its proposal — Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERMS). The reply said that only Rs 81 crore from the Rs 458 crore allocated has been disbursed in three years since 2015. The RTI also revealed that in another scheme, Women’s Helplines, for which Rs 156 crore was allocated, only Rs 21 crore has been disbursed.

With the huge discrepancy in the figures mentioned above, there is a dire need of a gender audit which will explicitly bring out the loopholes and the existing gaps with the allocated budget under ‘Nirbhaya Fund’.

In an article by The Guardian, our director Dr Ranjana Kumari was quoted as saying “It is for political advantage with an election year in 2019. It really is the lowest thing.”

Our entire team at Centre for Social Research, expresses horror and disgust at crimes of this nature, and we pledge to strengthen our resolve to work for reducing such terrible crimes against women.