On 16 December 2012, 9.30 P.M: A 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern and her male friend were on their way home after watching Ang Lee’s Classic, ‘The life of Pi’ in Saket area in South Delhi. They boarded a chartered bus at Munirka, without any idea that they will themselves be fighting with beasts in some time. Within a few minutes, the bus driver along with his friends had already started the heinous crime that had put entire humanity into shame.
Since 17th December, Men and women from across Delhi and the Nation are on the streets, demanding justice for the victim, who after days of struggle with life, finally passed away in a Singapore hospital on the 29th of December, 2012. (Many claim that she was strategically shifted to Singapore to avoid further militancy in Delhi, but I shall not delve into it much).
Today, Delhi is awake, the Nation is awake. People all over India are on the streets, demanding justice be given to Nirbhaya, the 23 year old gang rape victim, and the accused be hanged to death. Of all the movements that India has witnessed, this is one of the very few, which I personally think should continue. Well at least for a long time. I understand that we are late and such a movement had been long overdue. It took a 23 year old brave girl to sacrifice her life to wake us up from our deep slumber. But better late than never….!!!.
But also, I have a few observations:-
i) While fighting rapists and demanding for justice is appreciated and must continue, it also needs to be complemented with a fundamental change in ourselves. What I find more shameful is that none of the Delhites, none of us, stepped out of the luxury cars, vroomed by in our bikes, while the victim and her friend, continued to lay unclothed in the middle of the road for almost an hour. The havaldar, who came with the police team, had to rush to a house/place nearby and get a bed sheet to cover the body of the victim.
ii) The struggle like other Indian movements, should not limit itself to the ambit of the judiciary, and should spread beyond it. The fight therefore should not only for ‘proper and speedy’ legislative measures but should extend to the social and cultural. Because, Rape is not the mere result of lawlessness but also due to lack of other humane values like respect for freedom, dignity and human in itself…!!!
iii) The sudden debate on naming the law in the name of the victim also surprises me. While one can always argue if we can have schemes in the names of the Gandhi’s why not use her name in the law, after all she had to sacrifice her life to awake the Indians from their deep slumber. But For me, a more fitting tribute to her would be ensuring the passing and implementation of a strict law against rape and violence against women, rather than we engaging in the name of the law.
iv) We should be careful about what we ask for. The sudden attack on item numbers in Bollywood movies, to me, raises many questions. Are we suddenly into Taliban style movement, where we are banning the things which we have been ourselves asking for? For instance, if a woman chooses to do an item number out of free will, we should have the courage to respect that. What if suddenly, taking this stand of the movement as a reference, there is a ban on ‘short clothes’? Are we ready to bear those consequences is a question we should ask ourselves, before suddenly waging war on ‘everything’.
Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are personal. Criticisms are welcome and the author would love if any of the readers could enlighten me about the other side of the debate on the above issues. Also the image used is only for representative purpose.