While the rape of the eight year old girl from Kathua District has recently been enshrined on social media and had yet again brought forward a surge of youth activists, it has also moved the shrouded nature on Indian secularism. I am not going to talk about the horrible and inhumane acts of the rapists here, but rather on how these acts were defended.
Many supporters of the rapists, and yes it is a very sad truth that every rape story has an undeniable line of people who support the rapist, said that this gang rape was done in the name of religion.
The Hindu-Muslim communal conflict has predated Partition in the Indian society, and many religious extremists treat human bodies as commodities to be conquered in order to establish religious supremacy.
Asifa was drugged and raped in a temple with policemen and priests being the perpetrators. When her body was being taken for burial by her heartbroken parents, they were tantalized by near-by conservative Hindus and were forced to bury their daughter in another a village.
This entire situation really brings up the question whether religious tendencies divide or unite. As an agnostic, I left my belief of religion purely because I did not support an institutionalized form of antiquated ideals that were dictating how I should live my life. And while I do believe that there should be a very clear distinction that separates religion from the state and from how we treat others, I always thought that religion created a community that could bring people together for their own mental well being.
But when communities like this start taking their freedom and respect from the state for granted, I do start to wonder if the flaw is not in the religious institutions but in the government apparatus.
Religious tendencies have done nothing but divided us in the political arena. While they do unite us in our social lives, we must realize that our religious beliefs have led us to support organizations whose actions we might have otherwise condemned.
When it comes to coming together for the sake of humanity, our wants from our state are the same: we wants our fundamental rights to be respected and ensured. But it is our tenacious grip on religious “morals” that hinders us from giving the same rights to others that we wish to get.
So I stress again on the inherent flaw in my country’s legislative apparatus: the state-controlled secularism. India is secular only within the fading lines of its constitution, but in reality it has been perforated with religious supremacists from our neighboring houses to important offices in the government. What India needs is not another candle march, but a cohesive amendment to its executive bodies.