Durga Malathi decided to use her work and skills as a means to bring to light the heinous rape and murder of an eight-year-old child and the absurdity of the ensuing protests to protect the rapists. She was met with hate, sexually inappropriate remarks, stones being hurled at her house and death threats.
That is the cost for people who decide to raise their voices against an issue that involves deeply entrenched communal and religious aspects. This isn’t the first instance of an attempt to silence a voice that goes against the absurd need of men and women bounded by patriarchy and religion to protect criminals to try and protect the “honour” of their community.
This has been an unsaid tradition that this society seems to follow with zeal, pride, and glee. Our addiction to belittle, attack, humiliate and harm those who disagree with the wrong we perpetrate by hiding behind the protective shield of religion and tradition has only increased with time.
this incident doesn’t come as a surprise in a country dissent is suppressed by the means of hate or even crime.
Durga Malathi drew images regarding the Kathua rape. A woman who chose to express her opinion by exercising her right to free speech was met with unimaginable hate online and a group of men went on to attack her house with stones. Although, this incident doesn’t come as a surprise in a country where voices of dissent are suppressed by the means of hate or even crime. Recently, an FIR was filed against Swathi Vadlamudi for making a cartoon regarding the Kathua rape.
These people who seemingly think they are the protectors of their religion and community, who think they have the monopoly on free speech, who think that a different opinion is a grave provocation for abuse, conveniently forget basic human decency and the civility asked of them while living in modern-day society. These people willfully, and I suspect, quite gleefully engage in barbarism when someone decides to point out the obvious and glaring flaws in the beliefs they hold so dear.
Durga Malathi also received several death threats and was called names and received inappropriate comments sexual in nature on the internet.
We as a society tell these people that to slay the voice of dissent, to kill it when it occurs, and to shame the people who dare to be the vessel for this voice is heroic, that it is righteous. To abuse someone for not agreeing with you is considered an act of selfless martyrdom and people celebrate this kind of behaviour all across the internet.
Can the communal nature of a rape and murder committed to scaring a community out of an area be treated like a non-communal instance just because it makes some people of the majority terribly uncomfortable? The rapists were Hindu and the facts cannot change.
Rapists or criminals of any kind deserved to be tried and punished, their religious beliefs notwithstanding. To protect them because they share your religious beliefs isn’t only reprehensible, it also reminds us that we, as people, often forget humanity should transcend religious lines and not exist only when interacting with people of our own religious communities.
These people engage in barbarism when someone decides to point out the obvious flaws in the beliefs they hold so dear.
The pictures made by this artist weren’t outrageous, they merely depicted the truth of the Kathua rape. If people want to take offence, they can go right ahead, nobody is opposed to that, but to abuse someone, hurl stones at her house, and give her death threats makes them criminals, who ought to be tried and convicted.
When will we learn to respect a person’s right to disagree and what community could possibly take pride in its criminals? How does punishing criminals hurt the sentiments of a community? How does drawing a picture that depicts the reality of this rape and murder a cause for outrage?
To be the voice of dissent when dissent is met with crime is unbelievably hard. Durga Malathi didn’t shy away from standing up for that child and did a much-needed deed. It is time we stop shunning dissent with abuse and crime and learn that hurt sentiments don’t justify criminal actions.
Featured Image Credit: Manorama News