Women In India

 

On Friday, the 27th of November 2019, a 26-year-old veterinarian was brutally gang-raped and killed by four lorry workers in the southern part of India. 

 

These are the facts of the case. The four culprits noticed a young woman parking her scooter next to the lorry, who then left to go to a clinic. They punctured the back tyre of the victim's two-wheeler. One of them offered to help her and took her scooter, on the pretext of getting it repaired. He came back after some time and told her that all the repair shops were closed. They grabbed the victim and dragged her to an isolated compound beside the truck. The victim was then brutally gang-raped by the four culprits. Afterwards, she became unconscious. After she gained consciousness and started screaming again, the men decided to kill her. They covered her mouth and nose, which caused her to suffocate to death. They then dumped her body in the truck and fled from the spot. They drove to a nearby bridge and burnt her body after pouring petrol over it.

 

The aforementioned case is not a one-off incident. However, it has sparked wild outrage, and the nation is furious. People have reached their wits end regarding these atrocities. If you feel numb post reading the facts above, imagine the following. In the capital of India, New Delhi, 2,043 cases of rapes were registered in 2018 and 2,059 cases in 2017. 43% of the accused in rape cases were either friends or family friends, 16.25% were neighbours. A poll released in June by the Thomson Reuters Foundation named India the most dangerous country in the world for women, ahead of war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Syria. According to the latest government crime figures, police registered 33,658 cases of rape in India in 2017 - an average of 92 every day. In India, a rape occurs at least every 20 minutes, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.

 

I have lived in the country for 19 years of my life - my very protected and sheltered life. Reading the statistics shocked me just as much as they would shock anyone reading them from any part of the world. I entirely recognise and am truly grateful for the position of privilege from where I can say that I, more often than not, feel relatively safe at home. However, this is not the situation with the rest of the female and vulnerable population of the nation. 

 

What happened to this woman had absolutely nothing to do with her level of education or her clothing or location or level of sobriety. For God's sake, this woman was a veterinarian, dressed for work and entirely sober. How many situations similar to this and lives will need to be lost before people stop pinning the blame on the woman and her actions? Further, as much as we advocate for women's empowerment and education (both extremely valuable and vital causes), it is imperative to note that her degree, sobriety and clothes did not protect her. They were of no use. It is merely just that her body is not respected by certain people. They see her with no dignity. To them, she is no human being (much less a person with the same standing as them), she is an animal, a creature with no purpose than that of satisfying their carnal desires. 

For years we blamed the victim for all she did wrong, and in the process, deprived women in the nation the essential right to live without the constant fear of being physically tortured.

 

When I heard of the case, I read multiple articles and watched every video I could find. I felt helpless. I exaggerate in no way when I say that somewhere and somehow, I felt a tiny piece of myself die - in pain. I felt useless that as a woman, an Indian and a student of law - there was nothing I could do. 

 

I am currently sitting in my bedroom, 4000 kilometres away from home with my blood boiling and tears welling in my eyes, and I feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness. 

 

A stalwart supporter of "power to the women", I fully realise and urge you too, to understand that this is not a situation of women succumbing or allowing men to overpower her. This is not a situation where being "strong" or "more careful" would have prevented the outcome. This is not a situation where she could have done anything to save herself. Instead, this is a situation where, both her life and her body was stolen from her by men. These men had absolutely no right to violate her, they had no regard for her as a living breathing human being. 

 

I feel angry, overpowered and simply terrified that the country I call home, the country I long to go back to and the country that has my whole entire heart is one where when we hear of a rape case, our first question is "did she get out alive" and if yes, we are grateful. It disgusts me that today, we have become so desensitised to the situation where we are now thankful to the rapist for not killing the woman. 

 

Will there be any change? Who knows? There is nothing we can do. We are past the stage of sympathy and empathy. We need a change before we lose more women to the wrath of men (sometimes even other women, which is beyond baffling to me).  What we need is every single soul in the country to shiver in fear when the thought of committing the above atrocity enters their mind.