She has been called ‘Amanat’ (treasure), ‘Damini’ (lightning) and ‘Daughter of India’. Her real name has not been revealed, but the fighting spirit of the 23-year-old Delhi rape victim, who finally succumbed to her injuries, gave hope to a billion Indians who prayed for her recovery. Raped savagely and beaten with a rod, the woman went through what one would not even wish on one’s worst enemy. Yet, she fought on valiantly, through surgeries, through medical bulletins that encouraged and disappointed. However, the wounds were too deep, the pain too much to bear for the young physiotherapist.
For the past week, there have been numerous protests all over India, especially in New Delhi. Students made their ire felt over what they called the inaction and apathy of the state machinery to rape. It forced the government into action, which said it would take urgent steps to crack down on crimes against women and fast-track prosecution of the accused. However, amid the claims and counter-claims of ministers and doctors, there were more incidents of rape in the country. Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab — only the state changed, women were being raped with impunity.
Statistics are staggering — 22,000 rapes occur in India every year, 650 in Delhi alone so far this year. And there are countless rapes that go unreported. If the government is sincere it will have to show its seriousness through action. The police must be around to protect and the law enforced to punish the guilty. Laws must be made stringent so that they act as deterrents. There have been calls for immediate death penalty for the culprits. The law must be allowed to take its course. In this case, it will, of course, be scrutinised minutely. Over the next few days, there will likely be an outpouring of anger and grief over the death of the brave woman. But when the emotions subside, it will be time for introspection — not just for Indians, but for people around the world. It will be a time to think about what moulds our character and sometimes make animals out of human beings. It will be a time to ponder about the films we see, the books we read, the jokes we share, the thoughts that linger in our minds.
May the new year be one in which the mind and soul are awakened to feel the pain of others, to respect humankind and to love others as ourselves.