Columns, Opinion

Miss Leading: Asifa: Why I won’t back down from this fight

I’ve asked this question before, and I will ask it again. How many children must die senselessly until people realize that we must make a change together?

Three months ago, an 8-year-old girl named Asifa Bano was gang raped and murdered after being sedated, tortured and locked up in a Hindu temple in the Kathua district of Kashmir, a region in India. The news about her rape, as well as the investigative report that was brushed under the rug for a few months, was finally brought into light a few days ago, and there has since been an international outcry for change and justice for the young girl. Asifa, whose family is a part of the Muslim nomad community that resides in Jammu in Kashmir, was the victim of a land dispute in the name of religion. The Hindu perpetrators believed that killing an innocent girl was the only way to scare the Muslim residents of the land into leaving.

This crime is by all means problematic. So far, the eight men who have either been arrested or who have plead guilty to the crime are extremist Hindus who believe that Muslims should not be able to live in India. At this point, this crime is not just a hate crime against Muslims in India. A young girl, who is a citizen of India, was gang raped and killed, and people seem to think that the only thing to be fighting for is the lives of the perpetrators, rather than justice for the victim.

Women walking the streets of India — and let’s be honest, pretty much anywhere in the world — and are harassed and catcalled every day. So when I read the news and saw that nationalists are grouping together to fight against the punishment of the disgusting men who made a detailed plan to execute a child, my blood started to and has continued to boil. There is no reason that a girl, who probably has no concept of religion, let alone the violent history between Hindus and Muslims, should be raped and killed.

I don’t know about you, but when I was 8 years old, I had big dreams about my future. I knew that one day, I wanted to go to college and have a positive impact on the world. Ten years later, I’m trying to do just that, and I’m trying to fight for the justice for girls everywhere whose hopes, dreams and lives are cut short because of selfish, lecherous and vile men.  

What angers me the most about the injustice against Asifa is the fact that some of the monsters who committed the crime were former members of the government and law enforcement. How is anyone supposed to feel safe knowing that the government officials whose job it is to protect the citizens of a country are committing such heinous crimes against their brethren?

This rape has caused a national divide and an international outrage. Asifa is one name out of thousands of girls who are sexually assaulted and murdered in India every day, and yet the government has done nothing to penalize the injustices that are brought upon these young girls.

We have failed as citizens when we overlook the death of a child. We have failed as a citizens when we don’t protect the lives of the youth. But most importantly, we have failed as humans if we think that no justice needs to come for children who are brutally and senselessly murdered.

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