In the name of the Lord - violence against women

Almost on cue, the right wing Hindu thugs operating under the name of Sri Ram Sena "Army of Lord Ram" has attacked a group of Indian women in the city of Mangalore. The attack was particularly ironical in that the men who were chasing and physically hitting the women were doing it in the name of the Hindu God who is often held up as a model of human behavior!

But such is the nature of religious bigotry. Whether it is the Hindu fanatics of the Army of Ram or Muslim fanatics of the Army of Muhammad (Jaiesh-e-muhammad), religious bigots are the latest threat to secularism and woman's rights in India. The outrage against Sri Ram Sena has been wide spread, but the response of the political class has been deplorable. BJP, which is the fountain head of such religious bigotry, has not condemned the violence - instead opting for the excuse of sending some one to Mangalore to investigate the issue. Congress' response has been tepid too, while other politicians have been mumbling excuses. Its about time politicians of all ilk condemn the attack strongly and support legal action against these bigots.

India needs to do more than just pay lip service to the rights of women. Indian women have as much right to visit any coffee shop, a pub, or any other legal establishment and enjoy the legal offerings as any other Indian. The Police and judicial establishment needs to act quickly and make an example out of the perpetrators of these attacks so that such violence never occurs again. India needs to send a strong message to the world that it protects its women as much as it cherishes its cultural traditions. Only then will India be able to claim its rightful place as a becon of democracy and justice in the region.

Women of India also have a responsibility to act against this incidence. Instead of cowering and hiding away, Indian women need to stand together and send a message to the political class that come election time all politicians will be judged against their response to this act of violence against women. We must prevent the "talibanization" of Indian culture at any cost - whether the threat comes from Hindu fanatics or Muslim fanatics.
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