by Masood Alam (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 8, Muharram, 1440)
Like the Zionist entity Israel, India too has become the West’s darling and sacred cow. This is reflected in how Western regimes and the media cover events in India. Last month’s coverage of two stories showed the Western media’s pro-India bias.
The first related to the Indian Supreme Court’s September 6 verdict legalizing homosexuality calling it a “constitutional right” of every citizen. This was not only given wide coverage in most Western media outlets but a number of radio interviews were also held to praise the Indian Supreme Court for its courageous stand on an issue of “vital importance.”
What ramifications the verdict would have for India will be addressed shortly but first let us consider the media treatment of another story. At about the time of the Supreme Court verdict, scores of nuns, members of the order of the Missionaries of Jesus, organized a protest in Kochi, Kerala. They demanded the arrest of a bishop who a nun said had repeatedly raped her over several years. The church also turned a deaf ear to her pleas.
The nun then lodged a complaint with the police. This was last June. She accused Franco Mulakkal, bishop of the city of Jalandhar, of repeatedly sexually abusing her in 2014–2016. The police questioned the bishop in July but did not arrest him.
While rape and sexual abuse are quite common in India and the police often do not take such allegations seriously, allegations of sexual abuse by nuns is not common. The Catholic Church has been plagued by allegations of sexual abuse and it seems to be absolving obvious predators from accountability. Within the Church there is a tendency to brush such unpleasant facts under the rug.
Why should the media adopt the same dismissive attitude, as was the case with the nuns’ protest? One can imagine the uproar had this involved malfeasance by Muslims. All hell would have broken loose with allegations hurled thick and fast. Muslims would be portrayed in the most negative light and such allegations would be aired on television endlessly. Not so with India. The nuns’ protests — not an easy decision for women from a religious order in a country like India — were given short shrift.
Unlike the homosexuality verdict, few Western newspapers allocated any space to the nuns’ protests and the very serious allegations of rape. The same dismissive attitude was on display in television coverage of the nuns’ protest. No radio stations interviewed any of the nuns. Is the rape of women including nuns in India to be accepted as the norm and treated with no more than a repressed yawn? Nor did the media take the church to task for failing to address these very serious allegations leveled by a nun.
Let us return to the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict legalizing homosexuality. India has nearly 6 million people that have tested positive with HIV/AIDS. Although aggressive treatment has bucked the trend and reduced the number of cases in recent years, discovery of new AIDS patients in the most populous states has put a damper on the success story.
India’s social mores are quite loose compared to its neighbors. The Hindu religion also lends a helping hand. Hindu texts are full of explicit sexual content as are temples adorned with graven images of busty naked women in various degrees of allure.
At a more mundane level, truckers seem to be the greatest purveyors of AIDS. India is a vast country and trucking is a huge industry carrying goods from one part to the other. Truckers ply the long routes and along the way, there are sex workers peddling their trade. Unprotected sex is common and so is the transmission of sexual diseases, including AIDS. It can be called AIDS on wheels.
Women are disproportionately affected with over 37% of AIDS cases. There are also believed to be some 60,000 children that have tested HIV positive. Some estimates put the number of people at risk of HIV infection at 200 million. Regardless of the advances made in treatment, India’s vast population — 1.2 billion — and mass poverty (400 million people, some estimates even say 67% of India’s 1.2 billion people live in poverty) puts a lot of people at risk. For them, access to information much less treatment is low. India’s current programs are able to reach only about 15% of the high-risk people.
Then there is the phenomenon of “street children,” These are children who live on the streets without any adult care or supervision. They are extremely vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. Of the world’s 100 million “street children,” an estimated 20 million are believed to be in India.
This figure is considered significantly lower than the actual number since no formal survey has been conducted to document them. Poverty forces such children onto the streets. The police are of little or no help when these children suffer physical or sexual abuse. In fact the police are notorious for abusing these children as well as women in similar circumstances who report sexual abuse.
While India dreams of becoming a global power with the third-largest army in the world and a growing presence on the seas, it is unable — or unwilling — to look after its most vulnerable citizens. Instead, with the rise to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), communal violence has increased targeting Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits.
Last month’s Supreme Court verdict is likely to increase the spread of HIV/AIDS in India. With inadequate medical facilities, this is likely to turn into a pandemic.
Welcome to “modern India” with Delhi becoming the rape capital of the world and the country earning the reputation with the most HIV/AIDS cases in the world.