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Shame, Shock, Outrage, Anger, Horrified, Helpless, Afraid, Humiliated – I am feeling each of these emotions.
On Thursday, August 22, a photojournalist was gang-raped in financial capital of India – Mumbai. She was on office duty, clicking photos for dilapidated mills in South Mumbai for a feature in her magazine. She was accompanied by a male colleague. Around 6:00 pm they entered a mill which has been shut since early 80’s and was busy shooting it when they were approached by two men (who called in three more). Within minutes, she was gang-raped by five men, while her colleague was beaten and bound to a tree with belts, just few meters away. All this was happening barely a stone’s throw distance from a busy railway station in Mumbai.
If this was not enough, after the rape, she and her colleague were walked down by the rapists to the nearby station and left free to go with a threat – the act has been filmed on their camera phones and if they dare tell anyone, clips will be made public!
Aug. 23, 2013 - Mumbai, India - Indian photojournalists protest the gang-rape of a female colleague on Friday. A 23-year-old photojournalist, interning with an English magazine, was allegedly gang raped while her male colleague was tied up and beaten at the deserted Shakti Mills compound in Lower Parel when she was on an assignment, doing a story on old chawls in the Mahalaxmi area. (Credit Image: © Sachin Halde/INPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)
This is not the first instance of the heinous crime against women in India. Nirbhaya’s gang-rape in December, 2012 is still very fresh in our minds. The country, men, women, children, teenagers, elderly – all had spoken in one voice – A safe country for women. A stricter law for bringing the perpetrators to justice. Internationally acclaimed South African playwright and director Yael Farber, has staged a play based on Nirbhaya’s rape case at Edinburgh Festival, 2013
Then in April, 2013, a five-year-old girl was raped by her neighbour where external objects like candle, oil bottle, etc were recovered from inside her body.
The nation is crying out in protest. A woman of any age is not safe. She is not safe around her house, she is not safe with a male companion, she is not safe on office duty. Where is she safe?
Upon reading such news, my first reaction is shock and speechlessness. Disbelief that someone could be so depraved. Then outrage on seeing a fellow woman/ child go through such heinous act. I feel afraid for my daughter, my sisters, my mother, myself and every other woman. It ends with feeling helpless as I know that despite the media coverage, the outrage, the crime will not stop. The punishment being not severe or timely enough.
I am left with questions for the future – Should I instil fear in my daughter’s heart, mind and soul? Should I instil fight and courage in her? Should I teach her to be cautious on the side of erring? Where should I draw the line?
The photojournalist is showing exemplary courage in dealing with the aftermath of the crime. But will the society really let her live with her dignity intact? Will she ever get over this? Will she ever be able to live a normal healthy life due a young girl?
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I hang my head in shame today!
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