This is 8-year-old Asifa Bano, a child from the nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal community in the Jammu area of Jammu & Kashmir. Gujjar & Bakerwal nomads are an oppressed caste categorized legally (if not also ignominiously) as Other Backward Class in some parts of India & as Scheduled Tribe in Jammu. Her family was camping near Kathua, about 88 kilometers from Jammu when the little girl was abducted on January 10th. Her body was recovered on January 17th dumped in a forest. She had been raped, tortured, mutilated, & burned in the most gruesome & unspeakable ways.
The father went to the police on January 11th when she did not return from watering the horses but they took no action to find her or investigate what happened to her. After what appears to be a mockery of forensics & criminal procedure, police arrested a 15-year-old boy who they claim confessed to the abduction, rape, torture, & murder. The family believes little Asifa was murdered by locals, by a group of youth from the village. Police inaction gave the perpetrators a week to cover their tracks or even flee. They also assaulted protesters demanding justice for Asifa with tear gas & arrested nomad community leader Choudhary Talib Hussain at one of the protests.
The rape & murder of women & children cannot be considered only a personal crime because it is primarily a political one which sustains impunity throughout the world. As a political crime, it involves class, caste, ethnic & gender oppression. Every time a child or a woman dies at the hands of monsters in their families, their neighborhoods or schools, the world shifts a little on its axis. Ending every form of violence against women & children is a primary concern to women & men of good will everywhere while being the object of considerable misogynist contempt.
Our heartfelt condolences to the family & community of Asifa Bano. May this dear child Rest In Peace. May the protesters in Jammu & Kashmir bring her justice by forcing the police to investigate & bring all the perpetrators to prosecution.
(Photo of Asifa Bano from Greater Kashmir)