I am deeply saddened by the death of the 23-year-old woman — gang raped in Delhi a fortnight ago — who wanted to live. The suffering of the young woman has diminished people’s faith in the country’s law and order. We, as a nation, bow our heads in shame. But we are just a bunch of reactive people. And our reactions are generally shortlived. I hope this time, our responsiveness and solidarity will be sustained. The perpetrators of the heinous act should not be awarded sentences based just on the crime, but also its impact on the victims and society.
I woke up on Sunday morning to the terrible news of the young woman’s death in a Singapore hospital. I am devastated. We in South Asia have seen too much of violent crimes against women, despite our long decades of struggle. I am now sadly coming to the inescapable conclusion that in most parts of the world (especially South Asia), it is not just patriarchy, cultural/religious taboos, male/female segregation, feudalism/tribalism, conservatism, sexual frustration, “macho” instincts, male aggression, or even a desire to use rape/gang rape as a “means” of proving one’s masculinity or control over women — but deep-seated misogyny bordering on hatred and fear of women and girls.
It is a terrible thought but one which must be explored if we are to seriously challenge the rising tide of sexual crimes against women. We must relentlessly keep pushing our governments on stronger laws and their effective enforcement.
The penal law and criminal procedure are so dilatory and slow-moving that it takes long for a horrendous crime like gang rape to reach the final sentencing stage. We must radicalise the whole process. There must be a mobile police team which, if a sex terror incident is reported in a newspaper or otherwise, should not wait for an FIR but proceed forthwith to the spot, trace the vehicle or suspect, arrest him at once, go to the court with a charge sheet, and prosecute the case before a special court with a specially trained advocate and judge, and seek an instant trial with immediate notice to the accused, quick hearing and sentence. The court must go to where the scene or witnesses are and not allow delays because of non-appearance of accused, witnesses, etc. Urgent disposal of sex offence cases, of course with fair trial requirements complied with, is the need of the hour.
V.R. Krishna Iyer,
While we pray for the woman who fought a valiant battle till the end, the best way to perpetuate her memory, as suggested in the editorial “No turning back now” (Dec. 30), is to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill at the earliest, giving a wider platform for women to voice their views.
The bold and timely editorial echoed the sentiments of all right-thinking people. Nothing will be achieved by our political class which is all praise for the spirit of the hapless victim. We do not want ritualistic statements. We want concrete action. One of the best possible steps would be to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Too many Indian women have died in the hands of sexually violent men ... some of them little girls. I have in mind the case of the 11-year-old who bled to death in 1889, after being brutally raped by her 35-year-old husband. This tragedy served as a catalyst to the Age of Consent Act of 1891, through which the British government raised the age of sexual consent for Indian girls from 10 to 12. In the last few days, a rash of rapes has pockmarked the nation ... some of the victims were little girls.
The fact that the 23-year-old fought the six men in Delhi speaks volumes about the courage and grit of Indian women. The unspeakable wounds she received in the hands of her gory attackers make me shudder. I cannot imagine how her parents must feel at this moment, nor her friend who fought back and was also assaulted by the six men. Beyond bowing our heads in respect and holding a moment of silence to mourn her loss, we should put aside our emotions and work out a nation-wide plan of change — real change, a massive transformation of mind and heart.
Keywords: Delhi gang rape