Open Letter to the PM of India Against Sexual Violence in the Country by Students,teachers & Alumni of Columbia University

Date: 20th April 2018
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
7, Lok Kalyan Marg
New Delhi – 110011
Sub: Open Letter on rising gender-based violence in India

Hon’ble Prime Minister,
We are students and alumni of Columbia University in the City of New York, writing to express our anguish, outrage, and shock over the recent cases of barbaric sexual violence reported across India and the political patronage given by members of your party to these crimes. We express our solidarity with compatriots across the world who have protested the heinous acts of gender-based violence in the country.

India has an abysmal track record in ensuring the safety of its women. It is indeed worrying that we seem to have made no progress in this regard since 2012 when yours was a prominent voice in the opposition. Kathua, Unnao, and other crimes that have followed are the most recent incidents within a larger pattern of abuse. They are also symptomatic of deeper structural violence directed against vulnerable sections of our society by those elected to uphold the tenets of the Indian constitution and mandated to preserve the health of the body politic. We are outraged and perturbed by the collective loss of humanity that we are witnessing in India. These events have shaken the conscience of not only the Indian diaspora, but the wider international community.

The various diversionary statements and rationales issued by members of your party in support of the perpetrators of these crimes are shameful and have exacerbated the situation further. As the Prime Minister, your silence was palpable. We received the same hollow assurances from your office, which came too late and did little to address the pervasive rape culture in our country. Your passivity emboldens those who use religion and sexual violence as political tools against vulnerable communities. The case of Kathua is emblematic of how fissures in Indian society are being leveraged by elements that use hate as a tool to silence minorities.

We write this letter to register our strong dissent and anguish over these attacks on citizens of India and on humanity writ large. We seek accountability and fast-tracked justice in the Kathua and Unnao rapes.

The perpetrators of these assaults on humanity must be brought to book, expeditious independent investigations must be undertaken, the victims and their families must receive immediate protection and the victims must see the light of justice, without any delay. We demand a strong, unequivocal reassurance from you, as Prime Minister in this regard.

By over 150 Students, Faculty members and Alumni of Columbia University in the City of New York

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