So much and so little…

smsl-3I am writing this blog with mixed emotions. I started to write this exactly a week back that is on 20th Dec. It was a day or maybe 2 after I had read about the gangrape of a 23 year old girl by 6 men. I was so shocked inside that it literally impacted me for days together. I waited for my anger to calm down and my victim state to get over before I write about it. I am not sure if I am one hundred percent okay but am surely much more composed than what I was until 25th Dec.

Let me first narrate what happened – This is my version as per what I gathered from all the media sources available :

On Dec 16th 2012, around 9 pm , 2 people – a 23 year old girl who is a physiotherapy student and her 28 yr old friend who is working part time at an IT firm and also preparing for other competitive exams to join government jobs – are leaving a mall after watching a movie and take a bus.
The bus deviates from the route and the girl also notices the doors are locked. This raises suspicion in her and she objects to this. To which the men respond with some lewd questioning of her and him being together at that hour. The girl’s friend intervened and he was beaten badly and gagged so he can’t shout and then hit with an iron rod on his head – making him fall unconscious.
Then they move to the girl, drag her to the rear end of the bus and rape her. She being a brave girl, keeps fighting them till she could and they keep hitting her with iron rod and keep beating her while she is still being raped in the moving bus. As if this all wasn’t enough – they insert the rod in her vagina giving serious injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals. She loses her consciousness due to all the trauma. However, this doesn’t stop the 6 men. She continues to get raped in that state. They then throw away both the girl and her friend in semi naked state, off the bus.

A passerby finds them around 11pm in partial naked and unconscious state and calls Delhi police for help.

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Turn of events post that :

  • The girl got admitted and was put on ventilator and had to be immediately operated upon. Her intestines had to be removed as they developed gangrene. Since 19th Dec she is being fed through the tube. She has no intestines now, meaning she can’t ingest and digest food.
  • Meanwhile, there were strong protests in the state against the heinous crime. Day 1 of protest – starts calmly but gets violent with shameful usage of tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the people.
  • Day 2 gets worse. More violence in the protest march and more politics being played in the parliament over this. 1 policeman collapses.
  • Day 3 – 9 Delhi Metro stations closed. Every road to India Gate, where protests had originally started from, had been blocked.
  • Meanwhile, girl remains in critical state, intubated and on life support off and on. Though internal bleeding could be controlled.
  • On 26th December, she was flown to Singapore.
  • As of today, after a heart attack and neurological damage after missed pulse for 3 minutes, she still remains in critical condition.

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I have read rape news almost every week in my life ever since I can recollect reading news paper regularly. But this one shook me to the core. While reading about it, I almost got cramps in my abdomen and I have had a sense of being a victim for a couple of days. More so because I feared that even after going through what she had and to which even the doctors attending her commented as  ” We cant even imagine what all she would have gone through – its her sheer brave self and her will to live that she is still alive” –  I was afraid her trauma wouldn’t end there and the next thing I might hear is – she was dressed inappropriately or provokingly or that she was out very late or that in ways unexplained she bought this to herself. I have heard these innumerous times before and make no mistake in guessing the people who say this. These are people whom we look upto for the law and order in our states.

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With twenty three thousand five hundred and eighty two (23,582) rapes reported alone last year and calculations coming down to 1 Indian woman being raped every 20 minutes, this event is not an exception by the sheer standard of numbers. Also, considering the location of the crime – New Delhi which is called the Rape capital of the nation, which beats the 2nd ranked Mumbai by 1.8 times this should not surprise us by any means.

Sweden is apparently the rape capital of the world, as per the UN figures. Most of the developed nations like US, UK etc have higher rape crime figures than India. Though I wont give merit to the numbers shared here due to factors like under reporting, over reporting and the basic definition of Rape under different govts and different nations. However, even if we do consider any or all of these factors, still its blatantly obvious that Rape is not an Indian phenomenon.

Having said that , we cant turn our back from the fact that rape is the fastest growing crime in the country currently. This increase in number may also be partially influenced due to more and more women coming out of taboo and being brave enough to report it and hence a little misleading.

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As part of actions to better the situation – Lot of times discussions hang around voting for the right people. I agree that we need to be particular about voting and choosing a government that acts. Right now, we still have the TINA factor prevalent in our politics. Honestly – I see no trust with either a party / politician at this stage. People want results and change – but no one wants to still join politics. So this still remains a change that shall take sometime to happen.

Under the pressure from common man who took time out of their own busy lives and protested selflessly in support of this victim and others in past, the government did get pushed to act on some long pending actions that were suggested earlier to make city a safer place for women.

I have heard people demanding for  all sorts of punishments for the 6 accused, all of whom have been arrested, like dealth penalty, castration, stoning to death and hanging in public. Even while we are still discussing the high profile case, there have already been 2 gangrapes and one in which the girl has even committed suicide apparently due to the way cops were handling it. And yes the other one committed in Delhi itself.

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But this violent rape has surfaced more issues than just our incompetent government. I am more worried thinking of the question – where are we going wrong in bringing up our boys – The men who inserted rod in a woman and ruptured her intestine, forcing her to be without intestines for all her life and be on tube diet – they didnt come from a different planet. For years and years they lived amongst us – but what did we miss and what is it that we are missing continuously to not be able to stop such heinous crimes. Rape is a crime. Rapist is a criminal – simple. But 6 men together doing this and doing it in the way they did it is disturbing.

Not all is lost. I still feel that taking ownership and acting on it may change situation over a period of time.

  • Lets not just depend on government to police every act. Lets keep our eyes open and courage high and come to the rescue of any fellow citizen who needs help in such situations.
  • Lets respect the dignity of a woman. But most importantly respect her right on her life and her body. We have for long enough let the woman think that she did something wrong to cause this to herself. In order to protect their women, our patriarch society tells women not put on makeup, not wear clothes they like and also sets their time limits for staying out.  All of this makes our girls grow up with the fear of guilt, if they are victimised when they do what they like. So if some man does some wrong to her, she instead of hitting back gets into a shell trying to figure out where did she go wrong.  If a man has the right to choose his clothes, places where he goes, time when he steps out – why cant a woman have the same freedom. This skewed set of rules need to stop immediately. The Opposite of Patriarch is not Matriarch. Its EQUAL.
    • Instead of making the girls feel bad for any wrong done to them , can we genuinely tell them – we are sorry for what happened to them and that they are not bad. Trust me no one on this planet asks for pain and humiliation. Neither did the rape victims.
    • Instead of trying to limit our girls can we instill confidence in them.
    • Can we lead by example at our homes? Instead of treating girls as someone in family who needs to be rescued all the time can we encourage and support them. In return, can girls begin to stop depending on some male person in family for every little thing and take charge of our lives. This will make a huge impact to the new generation  – which is truly the most vulnerable one to the increasing crimes against women.
    • Can we make our men more sensitive and responsible to handle their hormones than trying to push women to handle their dresses and makeup and timings. There is no study indicating make up or a particular type of dress been worn by rape victims.
  • Government obviously needs to do their part, some of it is also seen happening in a haste under the current pressure.
    • Faster trial, giving justice in time. Justice delayed is Justice denied. 5 Fast track courts already approved for setup. This should help.
    • Definite conviction. Instead of focusing on extreme punishment, I would rather say that the fear of definite conviction will work better.  In the rarest of rare kind of crime that has been committed in this case, extreme punishment seems to be inevitable. However, I have my own reservations against it to be a deterrent. Instead if everyone knows that should they try this they shall definitely be convicted , it will be a bigger deterrent.
    • Maintaining a list of rape convicts along with other anti-social people who are criminals and making it available to common man by publishing their name and photographs. This shall act as another deterrent, atleast to the ones who still have some shame left.
    • Treating crimes like eve teasing and molestation seriously. Convicting them too and also making them perform social services and go to detention centers where they are detained and made to learn they are on wrong paths and they need to change – NOW.
    • Sensitizing policemen towards women issues. Changing their outlook and making them understand women do not ask for being touched and raped – and its entirely the man’s fault in such cases.
    • Adding more strength to our police force – not overloading them with responsibilities and also if possible segregating the responsibilities and not mixing them. A police man trained for handling petty thieves is not well trained and therefore not competent to handle terrorist attack on a politician or parliament or government agencies and offices. Making it easier for all to segregate and be accountable.
    • Certainly good lighting and regular and alert police patrolling across the city will be so much better to have.

Still hoping no one ever ever has to go through molestation, eve teasing and definitely not a rape. But should it happen, lets pledge to extend our support to our fellow citizens undergoing the trauma the moment we see it happening and not wait or shy away thinking its government or police’s responsibility alone. Lets pledge to the protect the right of privacy for the victim. Lets pledge to never turn back and say , she called for it. But definitely take a moment to tell the man, he is an animal born in the skin of human and deserves to be isolated with no friends or families. And last but not the least, lets pledge to lead by example at our homes, on streets, in our offices – both men and women.

Thanks for reading it. Please share your thoughts on what changes you wish to see to make the world a safer place for our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girl friends and for overall women community and how can it be started from you and me.

smsl-4  There is so much injustice around, so much to be taken care of, so much to heal and there is so little of hope, so little that we are willing to do for others, so little responses to our demands and needs to be safe and respected. Yet we can take this as a fresh beginning, our starting point towards our goals. All the best to all.

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4 thoughts on “So much and so little…

  1. I actually heard about this on the way to work this morning. It is so very sad for the 23 year old that finally got flown to Singapore. And equally sad for tolerance of lots of the society, if I heard and understood the report correctly. The news reporter offered that a few harse penalties to the rapists won’t change the attitudes of some society but, like many things, how it is handled at home, starting with the young people, is the way to create a change.

  2. Hi Smita, This is indeed a very well written article. Do send in your suggestions to H’ble Justice Verma (article I have shared with you on facebook).

  3. My husband and I heard of this incident and were wondering how it could have come about. We are grafeful to you for providing this explanation. We understand that the victim has died and it is in our view God’s mercy that she will not wake up, disemboweled and in other ways physically and emotionally tormented and fragmented.

    I find your recommendations for reform to be sound: statutory, social and familial. I will add to those my prayer for God’s strength to render these necessary reforms.

  4. My gosh, this is how crazy things are in our world and Smita, regardless of our cultural background, you are right, these issues are worldly issues. Far too long do we “pretend” not to care when we should be flipping over backwards to make things better. Sure the world may never be perfect, but at least if we strive for better a WHOLE lot more people would benefit greatly! It rips my inside out whenever I see, read or hear about any disturbing news as such. Likewise I go into the shoes of the victim, their families everything, because the underlying issue is, this can be any one of us and we need to build ourselves in becoming our brothers/sisters keepers! I pray that by God’s Grace we would individually see and understand the preservation of Life, I pray that we would hold each other and we would look out for each other with every breath we take and that we would do, to the best of our ability – simply – what is RIGHT!

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