‘How can we develop as a nation when we are raping infants?’

Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat has not had it easy, ever since she took up the case of an eight-year old girl who was raped and murdered in Kathua in Jammu Kashmir: ostracised by the bar association and called names. But her resolve keeps her going. The young advocate came to Mumbai to receive the Woman of the Year award by the Indian Merchant Chambers Ladies Wing of Commerce and Industry. She enrolled as a lawyer in 2009 with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and served as member of the Juvenile Welfare Board for Jammu district from 2010 to 2013. She tells The Hindu of her isolation and says she fears for her safety.

Did you always want to take up law?

Oh yes. I have always wanted to fight. Fight a fight through the law; fight inside court. And I am doing just that. I love my work.

How did life change after you took up the Kathua case?

So many things happened. I am being told I am ‘anti nationalist’. If supporting a child is being anti nationalist, then I will wear it as a badge. The J&K Bar is treating me very badly and has ostracised me. I am being isolated. I had a problem looking out for a home, now I have one and have a problem looking for a place to work.

Is it because you are a woman?

Yes, and more than that because I am a Hindu supporting a Muslim.

Do you fear for your safety?

Yes, because right now everyone is watching but if they get a chance they will definitely cause me damage. I am not scared because I am protected by my god and I believe that a supernatural power protects everyone.

What do you have to say about the human rights conditions in J&K?

I will not comment on the political situation in Kashmir but I would say that there should be a solution for it because especially as activists, we cannot see children getting mutilated.

What do you think needs to change?

Firstly, they need to respect women. What makes them rape an infant and what pleasure they get out of it needs to be questioned. I sometimes think they are not men but animals; a man protects. Rapes take place in homes, and in those of the elite, they do not even get reported. What I can’t understand is, how can we develop as a nation when we are raping infants?

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