The tragic gang rape, ending with death of the 23-year-old paramedical student, moved the entire nation to tears. There is anger everywhere and public pressure on the police and judiciary are at an all-time high. But, this isn’t the first time a girl has been raped. Shockingly in India, a girl is raped every 20 minutes. New Delhi is not just the national capital, but also the rape capital of India. Last year, a total of 23582 rape cases were reported in India, out which 453 were reported in Delhi alone. As the nation mourns its ‘brave-heart’, it is also a time for some introspection. How many more ‘brave-hearts’ have we forgotten in the past?
1. Nayana Pujari: The 28-year-old software engineer was gang raped and murdered by 4 people in Pune in 2009. The main accused, Yogesh Raut, is a cab driver and has been absconding for the last 15 months. The case is a classic example of police inaction as the main accused escaped from police custody when he was being taken to a hospital for medical examination.
2. Thangjam Manoroma: In 2004, 32-year-old, Manoroma was brutally tortured and executed by personnel of the paramilitary force of 17 Assam Rifles stationed in Manipur. According to the victim’s family, the accused broke into their house around midnight, and dragged her out. The army personnel told the family that Manorama would be handed over to the Irilbung police in the morning. However, the bullet ridden body of Manorama was found the next day; the body wore no proper clothes and many fatal bullet wounds were seen on her back, the upper buttock and the genitalia.Â Assam Rifles personnel claim that she was part of the banned Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), and was gunned downed as she made a bid to escape by jumping from the army vehicle. The matter is still pending in court.
3. Bhanwari Devi: Gangraped in 1992, Bhanwari Devi’s battle against her perpetrators attracted a lot of attention. She belongs to a low-caste potter family from Bhateri, a small village in Rajasthan. Bhanwari worked as a saathin (friend) as part of the Women’s Development Project (WDP) run by the Government of Rajasthan. As part of her job, she took up issues related to land, water, literacy, health, payment of minimum wages and child marriage. Bhanwari’s attempts to persuade an upper caste Gurjar family against child marriage was what brought the tragedy on her. On 22nd September 1992 she was raped by 5 men from the Gurjar community. She ran from pillar to post to get justice for herself. Her fight culminated in 1997, when the Supreme Court of India, in a PIL for the first time, defined sexual harassment at workplace, preventive measures and redress mechanism. The judgment is popularly known as “Vishaka Judgement“. She was also invited to be a part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
4. Aruna Shanbaug: In 1973, Aruna Shanbaug worked as junior nurse at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai. Life was beautiful, a marriage was on the cards, but it all ended when she was raped by a ward boy, Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. Due to her injuries she has been in a vegetative state ever since. The case came back to light in 2011, when Aruna’s friend journalist Pinki Virani pleaded on her behalf for euthanasia (Mercy killing). However, the court turned down the petition, and Aruna has remained in the same condition for the past 39 years.
5. Scarlett Keeling: 4 years after her brutal rape and murder in Goa, in 2008, Scarlett’s body was finally released by the Devon coroner in April 2012. The rape and murder of English teenager Scarlett Keeling is an example of how even foreigners are not spared in India. Scarlett was on a holiday, with her family when tragedy struck. Her body was found covered in cuts and bruises on a popular Goan beach. The first post mortem concluded that she had drowned, but a second post mortem carried out after pressure from Miss Mackeown (the victim’s mother) confirmed she had been drugged, raped and murdered.
The above instances only throw light upon the fact that Indians have very bad memories. We forget things too easily, maybe that is another reason why our country is in a perpetually sad state. Every drop in the ocean counts and we should therefore make an effort to remember the injustice done to our fellow beings. This small step will turn out to be the biggest form of redress.