Thoughts on the Delhi Gang Rape
on Passage to India (India), 19/Jan/2013 17:36, 34 days ago
Please note this is a cached copy of the post and will not include pictures etc. Please click here to view in original context.

The gang rape that killed Jyoti Singh, a 23-year old student in India hogged the news and shocked the world the past weeks. It happened during my busiest days when I hardly had the time to read beyond the headlines.  It was not disinterest or callousness on my part that I didn't bother to find out the details of the crime.That a woman was raped in India is not new to me. An article in Rupee News said one woman is raped every twenty minutes in India but it is a "notoriously under-reported crime because of social stigma and that the culprits in most cases were known to the victims." I lived there for two years and it isn't just once that case of rape was reported by the media. Except that such cases were hardly discussed at length or addressed a as crime. At best, the governments would respond by beefing up security for women, like ensuring that female BPO employees have shuttle service from work to home or by making arrangement for Ladies' Special buses in high-risk areas for women. The issue would always boil down to security and safety rather than combating violence against women I also didn't religiously follow the news that Indians were angered and came out in throngs to protest the crime and demand action from the government. Paradoxical it may seem but it was good news, it's about time this was talked about in public.What finally got me to read about it was when the the Jyoti's friend, Awindra Pandey, came out to talk about their ordeal. What jarred me was the fact that hardly anyone stopped to help them for almost 20 or 25 minutes when Jyoti was bleeding profusely. Those precious minutes could have made a difference in her chance of survival.  Awindra said it could have been fear that prevailed among the passersby that if they helped they would be made witness to the crime. Equally appalling was sluggishness of the police who finally arrived, their reluctance to take immediate action; didn't even bother to help him carry Jyoti to the van that took them to a distant hospital, because "they were probably worried about their clothes." Rape is rape, whether the rapist or rapists, in this case, used just his junk or more. It is violence. It is not just wrong, it is unforgivable. But I'm afraid to say that in my view, it was not just the rape that eventually killed Jyoti but the fear and apathy that prevailed, when courage and concern were required. I do not blame those passersby but the reality is Jyoti is dead, it just makes me ask, what if someone helped the first minute Awindra cried for help? What if the police acted promptly and responsibly? Sometimes, what takes the life of a human being isn't just the action committed but the action that is omitted. As Awindra had said, "If you can help someone, help them. If a single person had helped me that night, things would have been different."Jyoti who could still smile when she saw her friend in the hospital would have survived the social stigma had she lived because what happened to her raised the social consciousness of Indian society. It made them fearless to demand justice and action for Jyoti's rape and other women who are still victims of gender-based violence. As of date, the suspects have already been arrested, a commission has been set up to recommend measures to combat sexual violence.Indian President Pranab Mukherjee called Jyoti a 'true hero". I hope that her death would not be in vain, but instead would lead to reforms both in the system and the attitude towards sufferings of other people.