Saturday, September 14, 2013

It isn't enough to punish rapists....

16th December 2012. 
A day that proved how unsafe a country like India can be for women.

13th September 2013. 
9 months later, justice, has been served, partially. When a 23 year old girl who worked as a physiotherapist, was brutally gang raped and assualted by 6 men, the country rose to protest. Usually when there is a protest after such an incident it has been witnessed to die down or the judgement takes years to be delivered. In this case, although 9 months seem like a really long time, justice has been partially delivered.

Watching a movie late at night with a male companion on 16th December 2012 proved fatal for the 23 year old girl and showed women across India how unsafe their homeland is, to live in.  Travelling in a bus with a male companion where she was raped by 6 men including the driver of the bus resulted in her death 13 days later due to the injuries inflicted on her. While the entire nation prayed for her recovery and for her to see the death penalty meted out to the rapists, she succumbed to injuries. The court eventually sentenced them to prison. The main accused died during his jail tenure period. The most shocking part of this is that a minor who was  one of the rapists, convinced the girl and her friend into boarding the bus, telling them that it was going via the place they were going to. An iron rod was inserted into her, one of the rapists pulled out her intestines and they bodily threw her and her male companion out of the bus. Not stopping with that, the driver tried running the bus over the duo but they were saved when the badly bruised male companion pulled her out. 

The rapists, thinking that they were being smart by cleaning the bus to get rid of evidence, now face the ultimate penalty that a judiciary system has to offer. Death. Although the minor has been relieved of a death penalty, justice will be fully delivered only if he is hanged along with the others. The minor, knew what he was doing and age is no barrier for punishing someone who has inflicted harm knowingly.

The 23 year old is no more to witness the death of those who raped her. People talk about how India should implement a penal system like Saudi Arabia for rapists. While that might (arguably) bring down the number of rape cases, what can be done in order to make the country safe for women and have nil rape cases lined up at the court? What can be done to give women the freedom to walk down the road alone or watch a late night movie and come back home safely? What can you, as men, do to treat women equally? Leaving you with these questions to ponder upon. 

It isn't enough to punish rapists. It is important to ensure it never happens again.

And here at REF, we will not call her Nirbhaya or Amanat or Braveheart. Let us learn to respect their dignity and not give them names that suggest a reiteration of patriarchy or jingoistic martyrdom. Amen.

Deepika Mohan