Any logo with a girl hiding her face in her hands invariably represents rape. It is never a man hiding his face, possibly because the rapist has no reason for shame unless he is caught and, as everyone knows, convictions for rape in India are shockingly few. Between January and June this year in Karnataka, 476 cases of rape were registered, of which 325 were rapes of minors. No convictions. In 2013, of 1,061 rape cases, with minors raped in 563, there were 26 convictions. Karnataka should be seen as symptomatic of the situation in the whole of India. The recent rapes of schoolgirls inside Bengalurus schools have laid bare the horrifying breakdown of the invisible security grids that bind a society. For in almost every case, the child, whether three, or four, or six, has been raped by teachers or instructors. But the full horror of what is happening seems to be preoccupying politicians in the state far less than the image of the government and their own rivalries. The chief minister furiously asked the media if there was nothing but rape to report, and the state home minister rebuked them for focusing on the rapes in order to push up their TRPs. As if these shameful responses to the agony and bewilderment of children and the frantic anxiety of hundreds of parents were not enough, leading members of the Opposition and government engaged in a personally targeted spat on rape, dragging in daughters and wives. Although they have apologized since, the exchange shows not only the depths to which political culture has sunk, but also the easy callousness with which politicians react to rapes, even of children by their teachers. It is no wonder that these politicians are representatives of the people.
Since the rape of a child in a Bengaluru school in early July, the police have been asking all schools to install closed-circuit television cameras on the premises and global positioning systems in school buses, while going thoroughly into the backgrounds of all staffers at recruitment time. The chief minister and home minister, fortunately, are insisting on this too, although some schools have appealed to the high court about their economic incapacity to comply. These are the problems that politicians need to address immediately, instead of bickering and covering themselves in further shame, while the police and the justice system focus on arresting and punishing rapists. There can be no other priority.
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