Can Khap Panchayats’ Idea of Early Marriage reduce Rape?
By Himanshu Guru: It is most unfortunate to mention here that some of our political leaders have started to support even the old and odd ideas, which we have already left behind years before in search of a better society. Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala has demanded for new laws that will allow marriage of teenagers to nab the rapidly increasing sexual crimes in the state.
He supports the voice of the Khap Panchayats in this context. Yet, anyone can say that this will not in any way reduce the crime, rather it will give space to other so many crimes to crop up.
It will not be wrong to say that Haryana has black listed itself with the big number of rape cases in the recent weeks. In the last one month, 14 rape cases in the state, including those of minor and Dalit girls, have shocked the nation.
In the first incident, a Dalit girl was gang-raped in Hisar town on September 9. Misfortune of the victim did not end there and Multimedia clips of the assault were circulated by the accused on mobile phones. The result was even worst. Father of the sufferer committed suicide on learning about the same.
The next incident was – A newly-married 19-year-old woman was abducted and raped by four men in Gohana town near Sonepat.
The third instance was – A 30-year-old married woman from a backward community was gang-raped at gunpoint by three men in Jind district while her family members were held hostage and the crime was shut with a video camera.
The fourth crime was – A teenage girl was gang-raped in a moving car by three people in Bhiwani.
When the apex Court of the country has issued verdict, wherein it has categorically asked the states to ban extra constitutional bodies like Khap Panchayats, which are indirectly responsible for the crimes, it is regrettable that they are still allowed to exist and grow because of political patronage given by the political parties for votes. The states must act upon the judgement of the Supreme Court and ban such entities like Khap panchayats and caste panchayats.
Making of law to lower the marriageable age in no way solve the problem. Constitution of India has given rights to all its citizens to live with dignity. But in case of Haryana, the government has failed to provide such constitutional guarantees. So it is time now ( for the state as well as legal system) to award exemplary punishments to the criminals, wrong-doers and to condemn the supporters of the odd ideas.
The statements of Chautala as well as of the Khap panchayats’ leaders have drawn huge criticism from various quarters. However, under pressure, he made a u-turn today. “I want to say that we neither supported it nor we made such a demand or suggestion,” Chautala said to media clearing his point.
He explained that yesterday he wanted to inform media that during the Mughal era, in India people were adopting the policy of choosing early marriages for their daughters to save them from being raped.
He reportedly said that “If some Khap or individual has made suggestion about girl’s marriageable age, then it is up to the government to accept it or not. Anybody can give suggestion…but my support to it has been attacked.