Justice for Asifa

Eight-year-old Asifa Bano was kidnapped from her village in Kashmir, India, and was then gang-raped and murdered.

The murderers hoped their actions would drive Bano’s family, who are Muslim, out of the village.

One of the suspected murderer-rapists is a police officer, three other officers helped to destroy evidence, and two members of the ruling party were forced to resign after organizing rallies in support of the murderer-rapists.

The crimes occurred in early January, but the story has only recently gained international traction after the release of the full text of the charge sheet filed last Wednesday by Jammu and Kashmir authorities which details the premeditated nature of the crime.

Bano was kept in a temple, sedated, and raped repeatedly for four days before her captors strangled her and beat her over the head until they were certain she was dead.

Before she was killed, Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer, raped her one more time along with the juvenile nephew of Sanji Ram, the instigator of the entire, sordid affair.

Ram, it seems, bore a particularly ardent hatred for the nomadic Muslim community of Bakarwals.

Which is not an uncommon trend these days, in India or elsewhere.

According to a study released by Amnesty International, hate crimes have taken place against Muslims throughout India, and not all of them were against women or girls.

“At least 10 Muslim men were lynched and many injured by vigilante cow protection groups, many of which seemed to operate with the support of members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.”

That being said, rape reports in India exceed 40,000 per year, and more than a third of women worldwide have experienced sexual violence.

Paired with the steady increase of violence towards Muslims in general, the atrocious crimes committed against Bano become part of a larger pattern that is continuing to evolve and grow to affect more and more people worldwide.

Muslim women are one of the most socially vulnerable groups in our societies, not because of their religion, but because of the misinformed perceptions that non-Muslim communities have about them.

The tragic and disturbing case of Asifa Bano has already become a rallying point for the sexual violence crisis in India, for women’s rights worldwide, as well as for Muslim dignity.

Roughly 24% of the world’s population ascribes to the Muslim faith; if we as a nation can watch a predominantly Christian Klu Klux Klan rally in Charlottesville and still accept the fact that not all Christians are racist extremists, then we should be able to achieve the same rationalization when it comes to the Muslim community.

 

 

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