Put an end to sexual abuse by godmen

Put an end to sexual abuse by godmen

From Asaram of Rajasthan to Swami Chinmayanand of UP, Ganeshananda Theerthapada of Kerala, to Ram Rahim of Haryana, sexual oppression forms the...

Swamis and Babas in India come dime a dozen and they are all eerily similar. And more often than not, among the slew of illegal activities these swamis participate in, sexual exploitation, assault and rape make the cut.

The sexual harassment allegations against Uttar Pradesh BJP leader and former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand are yet another reminder of the Yogi Adityanath government's propensity to shield prominent politicians from the consequences of their crimes.

The case gets murkier by the day, the Supreme Court has to step in. In fact, it's not until 20 days after a formal complaint is filed that the SIT finally questions the accused on 12 September.

The new development comes just about a month after the Unnao rape survivor, who had accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar of the crime, was critically injured in an accident.

That had given fresh fire to the outrage around the incident, and the impunity with which Sengar, who was in jail at the time, still seemed to be trying to silence the woman.

If there is anything more disgusting than the crime itself, it is a bad to shield its perpetrators. A state government siding with rapists or rape accused sounds like the stuff of medieval ages.

This is no fiction borne out of sinister imagination, it is the reality of Adityanath's UP. Since the handling of the Unnao rape case raised eyebrows you'd think UP police would learn better the second time, right? Apparently not.

In the past, some have been caught. Others have escaped persecution. Any casual observer would be able to tell that the high number of babas and swamys engaged in sexual assult is not a coincidence.

It's a pattern. One can only assume that in the coming years, one will see this number go up further.

From Asaram of Rajasthan to Nityananda, to Rampal of Haryana or Ganeshananda Theerthapada of Kerala, sexual oppression forms the matrix of these godmen's "spirituality", and women – often from families desperate to believe in the swamis and Babas, are pushed into what can only be described as a life of a glorified sex slave.

The harrowing story– of which multiple appeals for their safety gone unnoticed and some described the painful and sordid saga of the godman's hubris channelised into sexual abuse, and buying silence of the victims and perpetrators by threatening to kill them and destroy families in case the word got out.

The godmen form only the top slice of an elaborate and many-tiered system, in which yogis, maulvis, fakirs, gurus, swamis, pastors and priests who make mystical claims and hold devotees in awe … operate as sexual predators.

Instead of clarity on the case and clear-cut legal action, the public has heard Chinmayanand's attempts to deflect the wave of protests that erupted against him by claiming that a conspiracy was being hatched against him.

What allegedly happened to the law student is just a continuation of a rising graph of crimes against women being reported from UP.

To compare the national crime figures with the figures from the states, it becomes evident that UP has the dubious distinction of twice the national average in terms of reported cases of rape. Many of cases of child rape end with the murder of the victim.

Evidently, the perpetrators believe that by doing so they are destroying key evidence. Once again the words of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice P Sathasivam of the Supreme Court that "Courts must hear the loud cry for justice by the society in cases of the heinous crime of rape of innocent girls of tender years and respond by imposition of proper sentence.

Public abhorrence of the crime needs reflection through imposition of appropriate sentence by the court. To show mercy in the case of such a heinous crime would be a travesty of justice" should reverberate.

But, the moot point is, will the girl receive justice or will her case also drag on as has happened in the case of the Unnao rape victim and thousands of other rape victims who continue to await justice for years on end?

Javvadi Lakshmana Rao, Visakhapatnam

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