Protesters term the incident a ‘national disgrace’ and call for a change in the mindset that leads to such crimes

People of Kochi stood up to demand respect for women as the country mourned the death of a 23-year-old victim of gang-rape in Delhi on Saturday.

‘Let this not happen again’ was the sentiment expressed by politicians, film personalities, activists and the public, who organised rallies and candlelight vigils in different parts of the city on Saturday to offer their condolences to the family of the victim.

The protesters, a large number of them men, termed the rape a ‘national disgrace’ and called for a change in the mindset that led to such crimes. While many people bowed their heads in prayer, they also called for measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

“All of us are responsible and we should collectively find a solution to the problem,” said M.R. Rajendran, advocate and vice-chairman of the Anti-Corruption People’s Movement, which led a public march from High Court Junction to Marine Drive on Saturday evening.

Largest protest

People who heard about the march through their friends or social media also joined in with their families.

The largest protest in the city was organised by film director Aashiq Abu and his friends. Members of the Malayalam film industry and people who got to know of the meeting through Twitter and Facebook arrived at Marine Drive grounds at 7 p.m. to call for an end to rape

“It is high time that we took action to bring an end to such incidents,” the director said at the meeting titled “Mattuvin Chattangale” (Change conventions). Protestors called to turn the grief over the young woman’s death into action to ensure security for women.

Director Lal Jose said “the Indian man stood shamed” after repeated incidents of rape shocked the country. “We should work to prevent such incidents in the future and spread awareness,” he said.

Singer Sithara said that even as protests went on all over the country, many more women were still being raped away from the public gaze. Actors Ann Augustine, Srinath Bhasi and Ranjini Haridas were present at the candlelight vigil and protest.

Members of the public also voiced their opinions at the meeting. Some of those gathered called for strict curbs on pornographic films.

A protest by Solidarity Youth Movement earlier in the evening sought to end the spread of liquor, drugs and pornographic videos. These, to some extent, played a part in the increasing incidents of violence against women, said Mohammed Ummer, district president of the movement.

The Kochi Corporation council, at its meeting on Saturday, passed a resolution condemning the death of the woman and seeking an end to rape.

Activists of organisations such as the All India Democratic Women’s Association, Democratic Youth Federation of India, Mahila Morcha of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and women’s wing of the Congress took out protest marches carrying black flags.

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