India’s capital just a week back witnessed a Tahir square of its own. Students and youngsters uniting to express their anger/anguish towards the rising cases of crimes against woman and the inability of the state to offer protection and justice to the women section of the society. All this comes at the backdrop of the brutal act of gang rape of the 23 year old ‘Nirbhaya’ as a section of the media calls her today.
As the country today debates for death penalty for the perpetrators of rape, stricter punishments and amendments to law, the 23 year old has breathed her last breath today after battling for her life for 13 days. She fought for her life all along these 13 days surprising the doctors with her resilience and willingness to live.
Even as we talk of zero tolerance and taking steps to make our streets safer for woman, What I would like to ask is, are only the streets where the woman’s are not safe? Girls today are not even safe in the wombs of their mothers. If we think that the act against the 23 year was brutal and must qualify as the rarest of rare case and hence the perpetrators must be hanged to death, what about the perpetrators of the crime where the girl child is killed even before it comes to its full being? What about the torture a woman faces in households for reasons of dowry naming just a few. Aren’t these brutal in any way? Shouldn’t there be a death penalty for these cases too? Well some may argue in the affirmative.
What we need to ask is this the deterrence that will make our streets safer and reduce the crimes against woman? I feel that’s an emphatic no from my side atleast. The state and we the people need to dig deeper and address the cause of the problem. Yes punishment is necessary but not the means of end to the crimes against woman in our society today. We need to address the mentality of our society today, the way we objectify woman in our society, the desperation that exists in the society. We need to stop the crimes in the budding stage, rather than being reactive to the crime by putting the perpetrator in the gallows for what he/she did. Its high time we as people who are part of the state become proactive in identifying the core issues and start addressing them in an appropriate way.
The fight of ‘Nirbhaya’ was for life. She wanted to live in spite of the pain and suffering she underwent. We should be taking a cue from her fight to ensure a better living for not only girls but every individual of the society. True justice to Nirbhaya and to the many who have succumbed to such heinous act of crime will not be delivered with the hanging of the perpetrators. True justice will be delivered when our society changes its outlook towards woman in the society. We need to get cognizant with the true issues underlying these acts and channel our energies towards addressing them. Yes laws need to be stricter but they are not the only means.
It is extremely sad that a death of an innocent girl be a reason for the nation to awake towards a change, better late than never is at least that we can hope for.
May her soul rest in peace!
P.S. – The image is courtesy Preeti Singh. It was titlled “Awaiting Justice’ by her.