every indian woman walks on the path laid painstakingly and tragically by women like nirbhaya/damini or as we now know, jyoti singh.
since dec 16th, 2012, with the death of jyoti singh, hundreds of thousands of indians poured onto the streets of cities across the country, holding candlelight vigils and rallies demanding that authorities take tougher action to create a safe environment for women. associated press journalists interviewed women across india, from the northern cities of lucknow and allahabad, to bangalore in the south, and from the eastern cities of patna and gauhati to ahmadabad in the west. some women came from as far as hundreds of miles away to join forces to protest in delhi following the brutal rape of jyoti singh.
inspired by the rallies and marches staged across India for nearly three weeks, demonstrations have also been held in nepal, sri lanka, pakistan and bangladesh – all countries where activists say women suffer high levels of sexual and domestic violence.
for the first time women are speaking up, using their voices. but above all, women ARE taking and demanding the right to express their sensitivity towards women’s cause via these massive protests. no teargas or water cannons are stopping them, and that’s not because these stopcock measures aren’t employed to stop them from speaking out!
the indian express news reported that nearly 25 per cent of the force posted in police stations in karnataka, especially the younger personnel, have undergone training at police academies or at their posting districts under the ‘Gender Sensitisation and People Friendly Police Initiative’, and are making a conscious effort to handle issues of women and children, crimes of violence in particular, with sensitivity and responsibility.
this bit of good news on change for women in karnataka and elsewhere is remarkable to see and read about. such solidarity has not be seen in the wake of other dire events like the killing of the 22 six yr olds gunned down in sandy hook, or columbine high schoolers or virginia tech university students shot down before. while sadness and media reigned down for a while, and school doors remained shut to facilitate therapy for the kids/students/parents/ loved ones, no collective protests were made like the ones we are seeing in india and bordering countries. solitary protests were made to NRA following the sandy hook killings, but replies came back that it was ‘not guns’, but ‘people’ with guns who need to be controlled. and as history has shown, these shootings recur time after time. sadder than NRA’s insensitivty is that after these utter tragedies and senseless, yet avoidable, loss of lives, we robotically go back to our daily lives, programmed, with dead eyes.
the sensitivity that people are displaying in india right now is sadly lacking in the examples of sandy hook, columbine or virginia tech, for example. abandoning everything – their wretchedness and poverty which slumdog millionaire has presented so well to the western world – indians are marching and shouting for justice for women, demanding an end to crimes against women.
protest is important, it shakes the conscience of society.
in solidarity, women in and around delhi are gaining a voice, effecting some change, albeit small. nothing is stopping these unrelenting protesters from speaking out against violence towards women. and added to these protests is the sensitivity that boys and men are showing to this cause. the fact that they have joined the protests gives women more hope; for no longer is it just a ‘women’s issue’, but an ‘indian issue’.
and only when it becomes an indian issue will change begin to seep in.