Praying for change after the rape in Delhi

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Praying for change after the rape in Delhi

by Mari Marcel Thekaekara


The march for Nirbhaya in New Delhi. Photo: ramesh_lalwani, under a CC License.

After fighting for her life for two weeks, ‘Nirbhaya’ died in a Singapore hospital on 29 December 2012. Her nickname 'Nirbhaya' means “the one without fear”. This 23-year-old student was raped and murdered. Because of this, so many people all over India are very very angry and sad. The last time India had this type of sadness was the assassination of Gandhi.

Nirbhaya died because she tried to fight the people who attacked her. Her real name has not been made public. First she fought the men who were attacking her male friend. Then they attacked her too because they were angry. She bit one of the attackers. He then attacked her really badly with an iron rod. For two weeks she was fighting for her life, but her insides got gangrene from the terrible attack. The name ‘Nirbhaya’ was made for her.

Her story has been on the news all over the world. Thousands of people have protested to demand justice. Some of the protests became violent. People threw stones at the police and spoiled the peaceful protest.

Our only hope now is that Nirbhaya’s death makes India change. We want future generations of our women to walk safely on the streets, not being afraid of sexual attacks and rape. For two weeks now, there have been many stories in newspapers about previous rape cases. People now want justice for the victims.

I wrote a letter to the One Billion Rising campaign group. This was my first letter of 2013:

I pray on this New Year’s Eve, for a change for all our women. Not just in India or Asia but everywhere in the world. I pray that Nirbhaya’s death was not for nothing. She died because she was brave, because she fought back. I would like her spirit to live in all of us.

Can we ask everyone, including the media and womens’ groups, to call her ‘Nirbhaya’ and not to call her the ‘gang rape victim’. She should be in the textbooks so children can learn about her bravery. We must make our children disgusted by rape, sexual violence and domestic violence. We need to begin campaigns in all our schools, so everyone understands what it means to disrespect our girls and women. We need this to go to every village, every city and every school in the country. We should challenge bad behaviour, which includes sexist remarks or jokes. We need to take sexual harassment seriously, in all its forms.

I have had letters from dalit and adivasi friends (the least important groups in India) asking why we, the feminist women and men of India, and our Prime Minister and important people such as Jaya Bachchan, do not cry in public or stay up all night with candles, when they, India’s dalits and adivasi people, are raped, every single day in our country. I have no answer. I am ashamed.

I think we need to, really seriously, look at our society. In our society, in NGO’s and social groups, there are men who exploit the women. Many of us know who they are. But the victims cry and move away. These men stay and choose new victims because they seem to be too important. Nothing happens because they are great leaders of mass movements or people’s groups. Should they be allowed to continue, without shame? Abuse is generally silenced; the boys’ clubs protect the men.

We have screamed at the politicians and the policemen. India’s women must show how angry they are if we want society to change. But if a man from our family, our class, our group, rapes the domestic worker in our home or group, will we do something about it? or silence the victim by giving them money?

I believe that we are at a very important point in the history of our country and of the women’s movement.

I pray that the fight will continue and that we manage to create a better world for our daughters, our sisters.

I want the One Billion to continue to Rise.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: