It has been seven years since the nation became witness to the Nirbhaya rape and murder case on this day. We gasped in horror, we protested in outrage, we even had millions of conversations on how we needed to make this country safe for its women and girls again. While Nirbhaya’s perpetrators await carrying out of the death penalty awarded to them, has justice been delivered? Have we not failed Nirbhaya by consistently being inefficient in curbing crimes against women in our country? This year, we again became witness to gang rape and murder of another young woman. But between these two incidences of brutality, there were many more sexual crimes that time and again showed us the mirror, mocking our inefficiency to change. One wonders how many years will pass, how many more Nirbhayas will have to endure the horrors that this young woman did, for our consciousness to finally leap into action. Yes, we are way past the point of outrage now, action is what we need.
- It is seven years since the Nirbhaya rape and murder case.
- While Nirbhaya’s perpetrators wait for the death penalty awarded to them to be carried out, has justice been achieved?
- Have we not failed Nirbhaya by consistently being inefficient in curbing crimes against women in our country?
- As yet another horrific gang rape and murder rocked this nation it is high time we moved from discourse to action.
While Nirbhaya’s perpetrators wait for the death penalty awarded to them to be carried out, has justice been delivered? Have we not failed Nirbhaya by consistently being inefficient in curbing crimes against women in our country?
16 December 2012, a day that remains etched in the memory of most Indians, as the one that shook us out of our lull, when it came to rape and sexual assaults. But women in this country have always known how dangerous it is, to just be a woman. Your gender affects your desirability as a progeny, your survival and your educational prospects. And when you grow up, almost every decision that you make is from the perspective of safety. You are a woman, you shouldn’t be out alone at night. You shouldn’t get into heated arguments with men. You shouldn’t be a “tease.” All of us have stories that will make your soul shrink in disgust. The “luckiest” among us manage to escape male sexual hostility with offenses like groping, harassment, and abuse. But there are many others who are raped, disfigured with acid or murdered.
But what happened with Nirbhaya, it just shook us to our core. So many of us felt uncomfortable and unsafe, to execute a simple act, that of walking down a street at night. Seven years on, the fear and cautiousness have become a habit. Why? Because despite all the conversations on safety, crimes against women continue to soar. In fact, brutality of such incidences has become a norm for society to react. In an alarming social media post, a man advocated the legalisation of “rapes without violence.” This is the direction our discourse has taken. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Beta Bachao, Beta Sikhao, are mere slogans that are dug out of their graves when yet another incident of sexual assault grabs headlines.
The conversations regarding respecting women, treating them as equals needs to make its way from newsrooms and the Internet to our drawing rooms.
We have failed Nirbhaya and daughters of India, no doubt about that. But why is that? Why, despite so much agitation and a jolt to our consciousness, does the rate of crimes against women remain so high? Because the truth is, not all who advocate change may bother to change their way of life and that of those around them so that we shift from being a misogynist male-centric society that considers women as second class citizens. Secondly, the conversation has remained rooted in discussing the atrocities being committed against women largely and instant solutions like hanging perpetrators of gruesome crimes. Not much is being said and done to tackle toxic masculinity that runs deep in the male population of this country.
The conversations regarding respecting women, treating them as equals needs to make its way from newsrooms and the Internet to our drawing rooms. Discuss sexual assaults and how no person has the right to violate another one’s consent with your children. Share incidences of harassment and abuse with those in your circle. Talking about your trauma face to face with someone can be an effective way of invoking empathy. And lastly, focus on changing the mindset than expressing outrage. Remember that shaming and reprimanding someone for advocating sexual crimes against women in any form will most likely prompt them to be politically correct. Does it do anything to change their mindset? We need to find a better way to influence this society into being better people, than being people whose words don’t reflect what they truly advocate.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.