The world battles a pandemic. India battles a pandemic and an epidemic. What is the epidemic one might ask? Violence – against minorities, women and Dalits. Unlike the pandemic, this is an epidemic that is perennial and one that remains uncured.
The rape and institutional killing of a 19-year-old in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh has shaken the collective conscience of the nation. Why now? One might ask. The answer is as complex as the question itself. Here are a few points to ponder – the crime was committed on September 14. The police complaint was filed five days later. The girl was moved to a hospital in New Delhi in the second week and eventually succumbed two days later on September 28. If the account of the injuries sustained to her body weren’t enough, the police under the night-light, amidst heavy protests, cremated her in anonymity. There are arguments made by the administration that the four accused have been apprehended and remanded to police custody on September 25 itself. There is another one, about the volatile law and order situation, and the need to cremate immediately. Both arguments are hollow and without honour.
The female population in India has been living in fear since the inception of the land. Violation of a woman’s body is a virus that has now acquired epidemic proportions.
This incident is not just the transgression of a girl, but it is also, a complete disregard for the family’s grievances. In life or death there has been no honour. The blatant disregard for the law, for human life and lack of sensitivity has outraged the country.
When will this stratification of society end? When will justice be done? There are answers but the primary ones are still the same – education and awareness. Education – not traditional but commonsensical – the understanding to differentiate between a moral right and wrong, can help mend calcified mindsets. The coverage of such incidents in the media, not with crass brutality meted out to the victims, but with sensitivity can go a long way in helping re-learn these lessons. The walk is long and arduous, but one that is slowly changing the tide. The outrage –amongst the Dalit and the elite, the ability of a few journalists to brave current media trends to tell the truth firmly are all baby steps in that direction. We might not have a cure yet, but we can raise our voices and fight it tooth and nail. That and hope.