Sunday, 6 January 2013

Rest In Peace, We Won't

Pain and anguish are as much part of our lives as much as happiness and joy. Some weekends are meant for anger and pain like the weekend of December 22-23, when enraged youngsters in Delhi braved water cannons, brutal lathis and tear-gas as they protested against the horrific gang rape of a girl. Or like the weekend of December 29-30 when the nation woke up to the tragic death and mourned for her death. Repressed public anger, reliving of personal experiences of sexual harassment against women, of constantly reading about crimes against women and our sheer inability to do anything about it and the pent-up anguish eventually manifested itself through the rage that came pouring out after her death.

Yes, the youth of the country are still angry and protest marches are still being held. Surely, it is unfair to call her a rape "victim" due to her resilient fighting spirit making her a true survivor even in death. She died uniting us in death and awakening a nation's conscience. It is indeed amazing to note how the nation has almost found a voice of its own through her death.

If this is the change that Gandhi spoke about in the quote: "Be the change you wish to see", we must welcome it. The steps to achieve that change might not be huge but we will gradually get there. The assembling of youth at venues organized for protest marches speak volumes about the nation finding an unbiased voice. A voice for change with a plea of urgency. Alas, it is unfortunate that governments fail to understand or even listen to the voices. Moralistic tones to pacify the crowds do not work any longer. 

Politics, perhaps, demands to be as thick-skinned as possible. Despite our political class refusing to consider the youth as an important part of society, they have demonstrated that the voices had to be heard. This time, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter taught us that social media could be used constructively to organize protest marches in Delhi and across the country. The impact was so high that the Prime Minister had to issue a token statement. The youth have shown that they care about public transport, safety on streets, public forums and justice for a 23 year old girl they've never met.

Over the past fortnight we have likened rapists to animals, called for chemical castration and public hangings failing to realize that she was raped by human beings, not animals. Human beings are the only animals that kill, maim and torture for pleasure. Animals attack only when threatened. 

Considering the way the media helped to shape our narrative discourse, the trial of the rapists must become a national public hearing. We should have the rapists informing the nation about the motive and how they went about raping her and inflicted unimaginable pain on her and why they thought the law could never find them. The media must play the role of converting her death from an incident of national shame to an issue national justice and dignity. 

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