The night of 16th December 2012 was a night similar to any other. But fate had something else in store.
That fateful night told us, in the most blatant and brutal manner, what was needed for us to look up and take notice of a lady’s modesty being compromised. It needed one of them to be driven shamelessly through unresponsive streets while being raped, her private parts shredded by an iron rod amid ‘mar saali’ comments, her intestine being ripped with its pieces found in her stomach, and she then being thrown naked on the street to die in the intense Delhi cold.
And the mayhem didn’t end. The responses raged from outrageous to outright stupid.
“What was she doing with a male at that time of the night in that part of the city?”
“Such things happen to those who deserve them”
“She should have called them Bhaiya and pleaded for mercy”
Ironically, the maker of the last statement is in another rape quagmire, but that is another story. Political and Legislative institutions ran for cover, with the CM, PM and President nowhere to be seen. Supposedly oblivious to all this, the girl herself fought doggedly and died 13 days later. Outside, things got worse. Without a leader and without any organization, India teemed on to streets with only one desire, only one demand. Justice. And it seemed as if nobody know how to handle a set of people who wanted nothing more than justice.
We suddenly realized that we are a nation that not only allows rapes to take place, but also sincerely believes that girls get raped because they ‘ask for it’. The face of country that emerged was terrible, ugly and scary. However, it was a face the nation deserved to see in the mirror. What a pity, a girl had to lose her life, and more, to shake us out of denial and apathy and acknowledge that face.
16th December used to be a proud day in the history of India for 40 long years. In 2012, all this changed forever.
Today, the rusted and supposedly face-lifted institutions have given a limited sense of closure to the horrific face, by proving the accused as guilty beyond doubt. I hope tomorrow brings the only logical end to this saga, by condemning the perpetrators to the harshest punishment permitted by the laws of India.
It has rarely happened in India that her citizens have looked up to the institutions, expecting them to deliver. And they have been let down when a person old enough to rape a girl and batter her privates with a rod was found ‘not old enough to be punished’. I hope the systems do not let us down again.