By Soumya Raj:
She left the world in the most horrifying and grotesque of manners — raped by a group of six men, which included a juvenile. 75% of her intestines were extracted; the rod they had used to assault and penetrate her with had ruptured numerous organs, both reproductive and abdominal. Still, she garnered a lot of fortitude. In times when there was absolutely no hope that would make it through, she remained strong and for a moment, we thought, yes, she’ll stay alive. She’ll recuperate, she’ll see the justice she’s craving for. She died within thirteen days of the crime.
Nine months on, a lot of people poured onto the streets with candles and placards and posters. Never was there an outcry, a disappointment amongst the people so large. It could’ve happened to anyone, me, you, our sisters or our mothers. If it wasn’t her, someone else would have boarded the bus and met the same fate as her. The whole effort to arrange a bus and drive it around the South Delhi area in the a state of intoxication is scary, just what if, what if, I was the one returning from a movie that night with my friend? Thousands of questions run through my mind as I look back to the day, as I imagine myself at her place.
The people were hungry for justice, this level of crime was one of the “rarest of rare” cases, and every imaginable sort of protest was coming up by the people. So when a couple of days later, the verdict was announced, it was a death penalty for four of them; and three years in reformatory home for the underage boy. At first, the common reaction was happiness, relief, a sense of victory. The battle has been won, the four of them would meet the same end that they treated the girl to. And this was a common response, I’m sure, after witnessing a crime at this scale, there was absolutely no option for forgiveness, no option to let the perpetrators live on. Life sentence was out of question. 14 years in prison? No, that is too less, let’s just hang them by a noose and finish them off one by one, because that’s the only logical solution to taking.
How will it help? Will one death penalty change the course of all rapes? Will no rapes happen now? Will I be able to step out of my house without a pepper spray and pocket knife? Will no men ogle at me on the streets? Will every form of sexual, domestic, verbal, physical assault stop against women? We all know the answer, we know it won’t. In 2004, Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged at the Alipore Jail, Kolkata, for raping Hetal Parekh, a fourteen year old and then eventually murdering her. Death penalty was awarded to him too, for a rape which had happened way back in 1990, and his case wasn’t even “rarest of the rare”. From 2004 to 2013, nine years have passed and we witness another death sentence for another rape. If we go by the logic that hanging all the rapists will transform the safety front for women in India, we’re very much mistaken. We should’ve learnt our lesson way back, almost a decade ago.
There will come another rape case, I’m sure, in the next few years. If things go as they are going, the rapists will be hanged too. The victim will have already died, succumbing to her wounds and an agony of having been assaulted in the most horrific manner. The basic mindset regarding females is wrong, men and women alike are nurturing the wrong perception vis-Ã -vis women. Young, pubescent boys derive their observation of a woman’s body, existence and sexuality from lewd sources like porn, grow up in an environment where their mothers can’t have a job because they’ll attend the same office with hundreds of men, where they are taught to be always ready to show their upper hand in the family through their penis, where they already assume that whatever a woman of whichever ageÂ is doing, is wrong, and she must be punished, in the most disturbing fashion, and the reasons can be as trivial as wearing short clothes, having a male friend, attending school or even withdrawing sex.
We have cultivated, over generations, a beast of a mindset. This needs to change. Of course, the laws do too, for the death verdict, by concept, has been approached as an ultimatum by the government — if you commit such a heinous crime, it would be you next on the noose. The consideration is accepted and appreciated, but wouldn’t it be better if we first give out the message that this shouldn’t be done at all to any woman? The whole judgment is approached as an after step to the crime, which is wrong. We need stricter supervision, safety of half of the country’s population is not a joke. If hanging these four men will solve this issue, and all the rapes in the country will stop, then the judgment is perfect. But we know it is not, it will happen again, and soon enough, as well.