TRIGGER WARNING: This article talks explicitly about rape.
India is home to me. Whilst being there I remember every time I went out my mom would tell me to be careful and be alert. Be ready to scream if anything happened and be ready to run. It sounds outrageous to have to tell your daughter something like that when she was only 13 and it’s crazy to feel like you have to protect yourself in your home. Thus begins the question, what makes India so dangerous?
16th December 2012, Jyoti Singh and her male friend Awindra Pratap Pandey take the bus home from a night at the movies watching the life of Pi in South Delhi. Jyoti was your average girl. She had dreams and aspirations, she had a family who loved her and she had things to live for. There were 6 other men on the bus Jyoti and her friend was on and once the bus deviated from its regular route they both became suspicious. One of the first things the men said to the two were “why are you both out so late alone together?” Almost insinuating that a man and woman can’t be friends and enjoy a night watching a movie. Awindra and the men began arguing and during that period, someone had gagged him, beaten him and eventually knocked him unconscious leaving Jyoti and her 6 attackers alone. She was brutally beaten and raped whilst the driver continued on the path. Medical reports state she was even raped with a rusted ‘L’ shaped rod and had suffered major injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals as a result. Later, the two were thrown out of the vehicle like animals and left to die on the side of the road. They were noticed by a passerby 2 hours later who called the police. They were both given emergency treatment. Jyoti was found with bite marks all over her body and numerous injuries. In fact, one of the men admitted seeing a rope-like object suspected to be her intestines being pulled out of Jyoti’s body. This is the horrifying story of a normal Dehli girl, one who dreamed of becoming a teacher, being raped and murdered for being friends and hanging out with the opposite sex.
Nirbhaya, meaning fearless, is what she was named. Nirbhaya as in when her attackers were found, they were found with bite marks on them as she tried fighting back. Fearless like the movement that was begun in India against the patriarchy, against the men who decide that it’s okay to patronize women for their right be free and most of all against anyone who thought this rape or any other was okay especially in India. There is a documentary made by the BBC called ‘India’s daughter’ in which Jyoti’s attackers are interviewed from jail. They state that they don’t regret doing what they did as women shouldn’t be allowed to walk freely at night and especially women should not be allowed to walk freely at night with a man who isn’t her husband, brother to father. They say that she ‘deserved it.’ When the documentary came out it was banned in India. Banned for conspiracy to defame India. Banned for telling the truth about an incident that occurred in India.
This isn’t saying that India isn’t beautiful and that one shouldn’t visit there. In fact, everyone should visit India at least once in their life for their rich culture, food and traditions. But one should also keep in mind the way the government attempts to silence victims, take away their truth and bury it deep underground. It is outdated, traditional mindsets that got Jyoti murdered and it is the same mindsets that prove to be the greatest danger in India today. Uneducated people who believe that women should not be allowed to roam and do as she pleases is a danger, men who believe that women deserve rape if they are seen late at night are a danger and anyone who thinks otherwise are dangers. They are dangers to society and dangers to future generations of women who will grow up hearing the same things I did from my mom every time I went out and be scared. Scared to explore their beautiful country and scared of every stranger they see. This isn’t the only case, however. Women are raped for revenge, for religion or for wearing something too revealing and it happens all around the world but particularly in India.
Nirbhaya will live on to be a movement based on fearlessness and Jyoti will continue to be the face of this movement. She did not deserve what happened to her and nor do any other women who are raped or sexually assaulted. Women in India today are aware, angry, and ready for action. This will not go down as just another incident in India but a warning for any future such incidents, we are ready for whatever happens because we are निर्भया. (Nirbhaya)