Yahoo! India News

Once touted as a progressive state, Haryana today is being pushed to the brink of idiocy by khap panchayats. If you did not hear about the khaps then thank your stars as their argument for and against an issue can turn you into a nutcase.

Haryana has surpassed Delhi to become the rape capital of the country with two women being sexually exploited in the state every day. When headlines shout rape, khaps are always eager to find a solution. So what was the Khaps latest excuse of a remedy to curb the rising cases of rapes? Ban fast food joints!
Er…, fastfood joints? Yes, you read it right. They want a ban on chowmein as a khap panchayat leader feels that eating chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance that leads to the urge to rape.

Another precious answer to the problem lent by a wise khap leader was to force girls into early marriages as he believes that married women do not get raped. Just around the time this leader uttered this gem, a five-month pregnant woman was raped by two men in Kaithal. In Hisar, many of the rape accused arrested are married men. But such leaders are do not let logic interfere with their line of thought.

The Human Rights Watch has said that early marriage puts girls at risk of early childbirth, thus becoming the leading cause of death for girls in the age group 15-19 in developing countries.

Khaps with their antediluvian outlook have time and again justified the acts of rapists, making it sound as if the victims were themselves responsible for the fate that befell them.

From their diktats on honour killing to solutions to stop the rising cases of rapes or marriage of youths in the same gotra, khaps stink of ignorance and stubbornness.

What is baffling is that some big Jat leaders support these khaps, even as these informal, rural courts pass strange diktats and pronounce what women should wear, whether they can go to markets unescorted, or that they should not use mobile phones.

Are we regressing towards the medieval age? But while we look for some reasonable answers, strangely the political class seems to be supporting these khaps - sometimes with their disinclination to criticise them and mostly for the votes they want to garner.