New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - "What happened to Asifa Bano is an inhumane act: the case highlights the thorny issue of violence on women and girls in India, and also shows the religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims": this is what in a note sent to Agenzia Fides Protestant Bishop Joseph D'Souza, Primate of the Church of the Good Shepherd in India says. The case of the Muslim girl Asifa Bano upsets the nation and is triggering religious and political tensions. The girl's body was found on January 17, 2018 in a forest near Kathua of Indian Kashmir. According to investigators, the child was raped and then strangled. Asifa is one of the many victims of rape in India, a country where more than 100 women and girls are raped every day. The girl belonged to the tribe of the Bakarwals, nomadic Muslim populations in northern India. The eight men who were arrested in recent days, nailed by DNA tests and eyewitnesses as the perpetrators of the crime, are all Hindus. Today the Hindu nationalist groups are trying to avoid the trial for those who were accused. Prominent figures of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are pressing for the case to be handled by the Central Bureau of Inquiry, controlled by the government, in the hands of the BJP itself.
"It is time for India to recognize the existence of the problem of violence against women", said Mgr. D'Souza. "Religious fundamentalism often ends up targeting women, India is polarizing and giving space to all kinds of religious fundamentalism, and women are the most vulnerable victims", he notes.
The Bishop invites Indian women to develop their own version of the #MeToo campaign that raised the issue of sexual abuse against women in the United States.
"Indian women must be the protagonists of this struggle for civilization and for rights in Indian society", he says. Even in Christian Churches, he points out "gender equality must be promoted. Christian Churches in India must do everything possible to support women in their campaign for justice, equality, fairness and equal opportunities". (PN) (Agenzia Fides, 19/4/2018)