Nobody’s Daughter


December 16th, 2012. A young girl in Delhi gets gang raped by a group of men on a bus. Her misery doesn’t end with the rape itself… the brutality that these men unleash on her as she tries to save herself ultimately takes her life and sends shock waves across the country and beyond. “Nirbhaya”, “India’s daughter”, “Damini”… many a name was bestowed upon this poor girl. Thousands marched on the streets demanding justice for her and severe punishment for the men who brutalized and killed her. Those in positions of power made promises of ensuring speedy justice and enhanced security for women in the country. A fast track court took up her case and handed out death penalties to the accused. Their lawyers appealed in the Supreme Court and since then, more than 2 years have passed by… in the last year, not once has the case been heard in the Supreme Court. The girl’s family still waits for justice, the convicts live on in the safety of their jail cells, showing no remorse for their actions and the country appeared to have forgotten the incident, moving on to other things that have captured the nation’s attention – national elections, politics in Delhi, Big Boss, AIB, cricket, Virat Kohli and his love interest… Obama in India… IPL scams… beef bans… etc etc etc.. “Nirbhaya” and her plight was like a page that had been turned… an episode quickly forgotten by a country that had “moved on” with life as usual.

A few days ago, news broke about a documentary that BBC was planning to broadcast. Titled “India’s Daughter”, the documentary was about the December 16th gang rape and also included interviews with those who committed the crime. A huge uproar in certain circles of society and the political leadership resulted in the Government of India imposing a ban on the release of this documentary. Ministers stated in Parliament that the documentary was a deliberate attempt to defame India and hurt the country’s image and tourism. But in the age of social media, millions of people voiced their opinions about the matter, some supporting the ban and some not. Here’s my point of view.

For a country that worships countless goddesses and has a deep rooted bond with the “mother” figure in every person’s life, India has a pathetic track record when it comes to ensuring basic safety and dignity for women. Keeping my views in context to the main topic of this post, let me just say that crimes against women in India have increased at an alarming rate and the legal system of the county has simply failed to keep up with the changing times and circumstances. For decades, violence against women has been brushed under the carpet and criminal cases have remained pending in court for years and years, while the lives of victims have been ruined beyond comprehension. In recent years, Delhi emerged as one of the most dangerous places for women, with the number of rapes in the city increasing rapidly. The December 16th gang rape was something that most of us could not even believe was possible when the news first came out about the degree of cruelty that the rapists resorted to. Since then, unfortunately, nothing has changed for the better. Rapes continue to happen, rapists continue to either get away with their crimes and the country continues to find ways to “move on”.  I watched this documentary last night. And half way through the video, I felt this intense anger surging through every vein in my body… not just because memories of the incident came rushing back but more because I was absolutely stunned by the lack of remorse that the rapist displayed and the way he tried to justify his actions… indicating in more ways than one that the girl “got what she deserved”. The lawyers who defended the rapists were even more shameless. Those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of upholding the law are expected to maintain a very high standard of thinking and a sense of justice that they are bound to protect at all times. The views they express in the video made me wonder how on earth did these pathetic individuals becomes lawyers in the first place. Ranging from rabid filth about women and their place in society to proudly proclaiming that they would burn their own daughters alive if they engaged in “immoral activities”, these lawyers left me speechless and ferociously angry…..

Enough has been said about the video and whether it should be broadcast openly or not. However, I would urge every adult to watch it without bias or presumptions. Try to think beyond the narrow minded notions about how the documentary supposedly “hurts India’s image”. It is my belief that every time we see headlines about yet another innocent life being ruined, our country is shamed much more. Every time a girl gets violated, our heads should bow down in collective shame. How can we, a society that claims to be rich in heritage and love and values, be so shameless, so callous about a matter of such extreme seriousness? How can we let the nation’s attention get diverted from addressing the core issue of ensuring safety for women and children to something as trivial as a documentary? How can we, as a matured nation, not wake up to the need to rid the country of this disease? Laws need to change, judicial reforms need to be brought in, punishment needs to be quick and exemplary. Fear should run down the spine of any depraved beast who even dares to think about humiliating a woman… fear of the law, fear of facing the most extreme form of punishment, fear of never being able to get away with a crime of such degree. When will India and the so called “morally conscious” population of India put aside 15th century mindsets and recognize that the girl who lost her life in the most cruel of crimes on December 16th 2012 is much more than just another victim… she is one of hundreds of thousands who we are letting down as fellow humans. She could be anyone’s daughter…. or…. if we just let things remain the way they are… she could be nobody’s daughter…

Think… and do something about it… before it hits so close to home, that “ignoring” it and “moving on” with life will not be an option any more…

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