The streets of the State capital, where protests need no plausible reason, are silent even four days after the gang rape of a medical student from the city in Manipal.
The people of the city seem to have ignored the ghastly crime committed on the young woman, whose perpetrators are still at large. The government appears to be preoccupied with much else, and women’s rights activists show signs of fatigue, coming up as they are against a brick wall often in such cases.
“Look at the number of cases being reported from just Kerala. Clearly, there is exhaustion in trying to achieve justice, and an example of this is the Suryanelli case. When there are big shots involved, even those who attempt to fight and protest end up getting so discouraged because there is no longer a judicial system that can be relied upon,” Nalini Naik of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) told The Hindu here on Monday.
At every stage of the long-fought court battle in the Suryanelli case, women’s groups have tried to highlight the injustice marring the case, she said.
Sugathakumari, poet, expressed immense frustration in facing hurdles all along, especially when the overwhelming number of cases should cause concern.
Since the first reaction was shock that the incident took place at the supposedly safe educational town of Manipal, Ms. Naik said safety was just an assumption and no area could be deemed safe for women and no way could undercurrents simmering beneath the surface be judged. Attacks on women by Bajrang Dal activists were reported in Manipal as recently as March. What had to be considered was the larger picture of a rapidly developing town making people overlook crucial issues of safety.
She said the State and the university should link up to build a support base for students in Manipal.
A majority of the students in Manipal hail from other regions, but not even a cell has been set up to combat cases such as suicide, Mercy Alexander, coordinator of the women’s rights’ group Sakhi, said.
Though the victim belongs to Kerala, the government has not shown any initiative in following up the investigation, she said. “The government does not even have any record of the students studying outside despite the huge numbers. Following the Delhi rape, promises were made and Bills passed, but as always, the lack of a foolproof follow-up mechanism denies justice to the victims. It is high time the government shifted its attention from Saritha S. Nair [accused in the solar scam] and Jose Thettayil [MLA accused in a sexual assault case],” she said. K.C. Rosakutty, Chairperson of the Kerala Women’s Commission, said she would visit the young woman in Manipal. She said the Home Minister of Karnataka had promised all arrangements for the investigation and the treatment of the victim.