India: Ms. Durga Malathi abused, threatened with death for her drawings on the recent rape incidents in India
June 12, 2018, 7:55 am

The recent rape incidents in Kathua and Unnao, have led to a series of protests and public outcry across several Indian cities and towns. The protests have assumed various forms, formats and shapes, a prominent one being a variety of artistic expressions including drawing and publishing of caricatures and cartoons. On April 12 and 15, 2018, Ms. Durga Malathi drew two paintings depicting male genitals along with some Hindutva idols, the drawings made, were in reference to the spate of abduction and rape against women and widespread protests in India and published them on her social media pages, i.e. Facebook. Along with her cartoon, Ms. Durga wrote in Malayalam on her Facebook page that she drew these images with the description that “there are people who think with their genitals, exert their politics using genitals”. She had mentioned that the pictures were about the people, who raped a little girl inside a place of worship, and against those people who are defending the accused. She further questioned how that was an insult to the Hindu religion? She further stated that she did not insult any religion and has no intention to hurt religious sentiments of any community, but the drawings were an attempt to protest in a democratic manner to many cases of assault and rape of girls and women in the country.

After sharing these drawings, on her social media pages, Ms. Durga Malathi has been at the receiving immense criticism, threats and online abuses including threats of rape, torture and death on Facebook and Twitter and through phone. The abusive comments on social media against her are grossly offensive and the verbal abuses are extremely intimidating, including threats to kill her and harm her siblings, parents and other family members. Some unidentified persons have also uploaded morphed photograph of her face and one with the child with ugly comments on social media and abusive language. One of the abusers had commented online that she should relocate to Pakistan and called her a terrorist. She is very depressed and is undergoing psychological trauma because of the online abuses, trolls and threats.

On April 16, 2018, the Hindu Sanghatan, a right-wing group, through its President Mr. Karuna Sagar Kashimshetty, filed a police complaint against Ms. Durga Malathi, at the Saidabad police station in Hyderabad. And the same has been registered in Crime No. 136/2018 under section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for outraging religious sentiments. Mr. Karuna Sagar Kashimshetty has also filed complaints in the past against journalists Ms. Swathi and Mr. Shabbir Ahmed regarding the same issue. The same has been petitioned by HRDA before the NHRC.

On April 18, 2018, Ms. Durga Malathi has filed a complaint with No. 50601/2018 with the Pattambi police station seeking action on the perpetrators and requesting to ensure her security, safety for travel and freedom of expression. The same was registered by the police in 0416 of 2018 under sections 354 A (3), 506(1) for outraging modesty of a woman and Section 120(0) (causing nuisance) of t Kerala Police Act 2011. On the same day, another complaint against Ms. Durga Malathi was filed at the Civil Lines Police Station, Janpath, Allahabad by advocates of the Hindu Legal Cell seeking action against her for creating disharmony in society.

On April 19, 2018, late in the night, unidentified persons threw stones at her house and at her car which was parked inside the compound and the windshield of the car was damaged.

Ms. Durga Malathi suspects that the Sangh Parivar might have been behind the attack as is evident that she and her supporters had been the subject of its hate campaign on social media for the last few days

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