Rape and race hatred


RAPE is an appalling crime, made even more abhorrent when it is motivated by racial or religious hatred and contempt. Six Hindus have just been found guilty of the abduction, torture, rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Indian-administered Kashmir. This savage attack disgusted many Indians, regardless of background, chiming as it did with the widespread movement against the sexual crimes against women throughout the country.

The only people not expressing revulsion were members of right-wing Hindu groups who protested the arrests of their eight co-religionists. The court acquitted two of the accused but Hindu extremists are still protesting the guilty verdicts against five of the men. An accused minor is due to be tried separately.

There can be little doubt that those found guilty were motivated not simply by lust but by disdain for the local Muslim nomadic tribe to which the little girl belonged. And there are even more disturbing elements to this terrible case. The crime was planned by a retired government official and was carried out in a Hindu temple with the assistance of three serving police officers. Nothing could have been better calculated to bring into further question the behavior of Indian security forces in this angry and disputed region.

This said, sexual exploitation of vulnerable young people is widespread around the world. Nor is this crime confined to any one community. The terrorists of Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) butchered all Yazidi males and treated their females as sex slaves to be bought and sold like chattels. Even in Europe, there have been outrageous examples of this terrible law breaking. In the UK gangs of men largely of Pakistani origin who used alcohol and drugs to exploit young girls living in local authority care have been sentenced to long periods of imprisonment. Their crimes have brought shame and universal condemnation from the British Muslim community. In the same way three years ago the disgusting New Year’s Day rampage by young Muslims in Cologne railway station brought reactions of shock and horror from the majority of those migrants who had been welcomed and given asylum in Germany.

The problem with all of these crimes is that they are quickly held up by extremists peddling their own, no less objectionable agenda of hate. Thus neo-Nazis were quick to try and paint all asylum seekers from war-torn Muslim countries as uncivilized sexual predators. In Britain the fact that these Pakistani gangs were able to operate for years with impunity is being used to attack the UK’s multicultural traditions, with claims that local bureaucrats and police were afraid to act against the perverts for fear of being labeled discriminatory and racist.

There is a strong political element in the reaction to all these sex crimes. In India, Narendra Modi’s BJP contains extremists who barely seek to hide their hatred of Muslims. Nor should it be forgotten that the initial assault on the Muslim Rohingya community by Buddhist bigots in Myanmar was triggered by unconfirmed reports of a sexual assault on the Buddhist girl by a Muslim man. There was however no doubt about the resulting genocide that drove more than a million Rohingya from their homes. All sex crimes are loathsome. But no less repugnant are attempts to target whole communities as a result of the offenses of a few.