India: A Culture of Rape Against Muslim Women
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The mock online auction of more than 80 Muslim women journalists, activists and academics on the Web platform GitHub should sound alarm bells among India’s European and American allies.
The uploading of images of Muslim women to be “auctioned” off to Hindu men, with the explicit aim of targeting sexualized hate and harm towards them, cannot be dismissed as the action of a radicalized few, but as part of the Hindu nationalist project to silence and remove Muslim women, and all Muslims for that matter, from public and political spaces.
Calls for the abduction and rape of Muslim women are not only being seen and heard in the dark corners of the Internet, but also in thousands of Hindutva groups on WhatsApp, and at political rallies attended by members of the country’s ruling party and security forces.
Sexualized violence against Muslim women has become so normalized that would-be Hindu rapists post their threats online and in broad daylight without fear of consequence.
That rape has been justified as a legitimate political tool by Hindutva leaders, including the late Veer Savarkar, who urged Hindu men to treat Muslim women as “enemies” in his book Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, accusing them of playing their “devilish part in the harassment and molestation of Hindu women.”
As Indian scholar Shiva Vandana noted in her 2003 book India Divided: Diversity and Democracy Under Attack, “Young boys have been taught to burn, rape and kill in the name of Hindutva.”
The 2002 Gujarat Pogrom, which left more than 2,000 Muslims dead and thousands more raped, became the first manifestation of this modern day rape culture against Muslim women.
Survivors reported the sexual violence committed against them “consisted of forced nudity, mass rapes, gang-rapes, mutilation, insertion of objects into bodies, cutting of breasts, slitting the stomach and reproductive organs, and carving of Hindu religious symbols on women’s body parts.”
The Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal heard testimony from Muslim women victims alleging they “were stripped and paraded naked, then gang-raped, and thereafter quartered and burnt beyond recognition…The leaders of the mobs even raped young girls, some as young as 11 years old…before burning them alive…Even a 20-day-old infant, or a fetus in the womb of its mother, was not spared.”
Today, India is widely considered the rape capital of the world, and ranked the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence.
Muslim women, particularly outspoken journalists and human rights activists who are critical of Hindutva majoritarianism, now find themselves struggling for life and liberty within a mainstream culture that celebrates rape against them.
These threats are not only meant to silence Muslim women but also terrorize the broader Muslim population, and advance the preparatory stage of genocide.
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