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Who will ensure justice for Nirbhaya?

Photo courtesy Vaishali Ahuja
My blog was silent on Nirbhaya rape case so far. In fact, my pen and my muse were both numb and paralyzed with thoughts too complicated for me to comprehend or explain. I was hurt -- I felt unbearable pain for the girl, her family, her friend, and all those who had known her and had to see her lose her battle for life in such a painful manner. I also felt cheated and confused. It was so hard to believe that the country I so vehemently defended when anyone dared to criticize it could allow such cruelty to happen. There was so much I wanted to say through these last few months, but I couldn't bring myself to write a word about it -- or for that matter -- about anything. 

It is said that shock treats shock. When the Juvenile Justice Board found the "juvenile" accused guilty of the heinous crime, and yet couldn't sentence him to more than 3 years of confinement, I knew I had to write about it. I do not want to rant about how unjust this is, for it is a given. She is dead, but he will be out and about in the society once again in a few years. He gets another chance at life in spite of the iron rod he shoved into the girl. Did he wince even once when he did that? Has he shown even a slightest sign of remorse? What makes us think that the confinement will reform him? Are we actually this foolish? In fact, I shudder when I imagine the unfeeling, unashamed look he will carry in his eyes when he gets out. Most girls would know the look I am talking about. It is all too familiar -- like the look in the eyes of men who all too often take advantage of a crowded bus to molest young girls and old women alike. 

The juvenile accused will know that he got away. Countless other such "juveniles" will also know that he got away. By not treating this case as an exception, our judiciary has set a sad example for our society. Just like there is provision of capital punishment in the rarest-of-the-rare cases, why can't there be a similar provision in case of juveniles? It is difficult to have faith in such a helpless system. And, as if on cue, a series of rape cases have been reported from all over the country.

Our society desperately needs examples. People need to be afraid of committing crimes. With the moral fibre of our society in tatters, and "blame the victim" attitude on an all-time-high especially in case of rape, this seems to be the only way out. It is easy for men, who take freedom for granted, to advise women to avoid being "at the wrong place at the wrong time." But isn't it true that women wouldn't have come this far if they had chosen to stay within the "safe" limits? At one point, any place outside home was the "wrong" place for women. Generations of men and women have fought against this and pushed the boundary wider and wider. And we should keep pushing till this boundary ceases to exist. No one should so flippantly advise women to let go of their hard-earned freedom for the fear of the perverts who are out there threatening their very existence. 

Now Nirbhaya's parents have indicated that they will move the Delhi High Court against this sentence. They should know that the entire nation is standing with them in this. Nirbhaya didn't give up, and neither will we.