In the same Delhi, hundreds of adivasi girls are taken as domestic slaves and get raped, and go missing. Why doesn't the mainstream media even consider that newsworthy? Why is there no uproar for the death penalty for these upper caste men from elite backgrounds raping us? Is it because we are born to get justly raped by the others?
The present protests and silences only endorse the caste hindu paradigm that the upper caste woman's body is sacred and its violation requires the highest retribution while the bodies of dalit, bahujan and adivasi women and women under military regimes such as Manipur and Kashmir are 'rape-worthy' and the men's sexual depravity on these women need no correctives.
The second essay is by Urvashi Butalia. An excerpt:
Protest is important, it shakes the conscience of society, it brings people close to change, it makes them feel part of the change. And there is a good chance that the current wave of protests will lead to at least some results — perhaps even just fast track courts. But perspective is also important: we need to ask ourselves: if it had been the army in Manipur or Kashmir who had been the rapists, would we have protested in quite the same way? Very likely not, for there nationalism enters the picture. Remember Kunan Posphpora in the late nineties when the Rajasthan Rifles raped over 30 women? Even our liberal journalists found it difficult to credit that this could have happened, that the army could have been capable of this, and yet, the people of Kunan Poshpora know. Even today, women from this area find it difficult to marry — stigma has a long life. Would we have been as angry if the rape had taken place in a small town near Delhi and the victim had been Dalit? Remember Khairlanji? Why did that rape, of a mother and her daughter, gruesome, violent, heinous, and their subsequent murder not touch our consciences in quite the same way.
Both excerpts raise the question of selective media coverage and public outrage. One response might start by saying that all humans participate in overlapping moral communities, such as whites, males, Brahmins, Americans, Muslims, heterosexuals, urban professionals, Arabs, and so on. Membership rules and benefits vary but those within our moral community evoke more of our empathy and are more real to us. (We also tend to identify with the pain of those "above us", who we envy and emulate.) The recent killing of 20 children in Connecticut provoked massive outrage among folks who aren't much perturbed by American drones killing children in Pakistan. Is there any doubt that the intensity of the outrage owes much to the ability of every soccer mom and dad in America to relate to the tragedy? Never mind the larger violence beyond their daily lives, to both human and non-human animals, that their privileges both require and blind them to (which may well be a wider human problem).
The moral community of urban upper-caste Indians (and, by extension, of the media institutions they control) is likewise circumscribed. It discounts the travails and the humanity of other Indians "beneath them". Moral
communities can of course expand and become more porous or inclusive — usually not without a fight — where greater moral consideration is accorded to outsiders, including even to animals. Affecting this change then, through various means (socialization, law enforcement, public debate, etc.), is the struggle ahead in India and elsewhere.