As I begin to type this on my mobile phone, I check the time and see that it’s around 6 a.m. on the morning of December 29, 2012. I have been awake all night. Sleep has evaded my eyes for over a week now. And tonight it was worse. Since early in the evening, news was pouring in that the ‘Braveheart’ of Delhi was critical, she had suffered multiple organ failures. I had a bad feeling that she might not make it. So I helplessly kept on switching between twitter and facebook, checking for any updates about her from news pages and journalist friends, hoping against hope that she’d come out of it alive.
But then what I feared happened; my breath was caught in my throat as I read an update on BBC News that quoted the Singapore hospital where she was being treated, that the girl had passed away. I did not want to believe it. I still wanted to believe that she was alive and the news was not confirmed. I wanted to close my eyes and think of it as a bad dream. But I knew I couldn’t shut my eyes to reality.
AlJazeera followed, and then the Indian media. It went viral. And within seconds, I found hundreds of updates from Indians expressing their sympathy for the family of the girl, their grief over what the girl had to go through, their anguish against the government, and vowing to bring justice to her. I wondered, did it need a death for this society to start questioning the status quo? Was it important that someone had to face such a terrible assault and only then people would wake up from their deep slumber?
With no chance of sleeping now, I kept sifting through the comments coming in from people. What perplexed me was the suggestions from many that the accused should now be tried for murder. As if rape in itself wasn’t a terrible enough crime to hang those beasts. What if a girl who’s raped, survives? Would it mean that there can be no death penalty given to the accused, just because they ‘only raped’ and ‘didn’t kill’ her?
Some lashed out at the Congress led UPA Government for its incompetence and improper way of dealing with protests that followed the rape. Others criticised the police for its inability to protect the citizens. But lets honestly ask ourselves — are they the only ones to be blamed? What have we done as a society? Hasn’t the society failed her? Haven’t we failed her? Right from her childhood, a girl is told to be submissive, is made to feel inferior and then the same complex is further strengthened by the political structures.
Vulnerability is made to appear to us to be a feminine quality, and women as such are looked at as the weaker sex. We have only managed to further entrench this distinction deeply into the social fabric. The result, some people out there see it as their right to do with a girl what they want to, for she’s ‘weak’ and ‘submissive by ‘nature’. The system of justice does no good to us either. Thousands of pending cases and no severe punishments.
Let’s hope that politicians do not use her death for petty political gains or playing out political gimmicks. At the same time, it’s important that the media doesn’t convert this into a sensation for a battle of TRPs. And more importantly, while protests should certainly intensify, groups with paltry interests or inciting tendencies shouldn’t be allowed to change the very nature and goals of such protest. The big question now is, will this conscious society of today be dead tomorrow or will it live on to fight for her?
Her death certainly doesn’t deserve to go in vain.