Source: Rad Pozniakov on Unsplash

16th December 2012, The Nirbhaya Case, a case that shook the entire nation, a gut-wrenching incident that rattled the most hardened of us. A 22-year-old physiotherapy intern was gang-raped, beaten, and tormented by six men in a private bus in Munirka, a neighborhood in South West Delhi, where she was traveling with a male friend, who was also beaten up. It was 11 days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore in the emergency ward, but passed away two days later, fighting for her life for 13 straight days. But it was after 7 long years and 3 months of delayed judgment on clear facts that four of the six, Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Kumar (31), and Mukesh Kumar (32) were hanged in Delhi's Tihar jail for the gangrape and murder of Nirbhaya, on the morning of, March 20, 2020, an end to the darkest night of assault that took place in the national capital. “It is a victory for all women and daughters. I want to thank everyone, the judiciary, and the government for this. The way the courts acted proactively in the last 24 hours, in the dismissal of all petitions filed by the convicts, has restored my faith in the system that was shaken over the past seven years,” said Ms. Devi, mother of Nirbhaya. Ram Singh, the fifth convict in the case, died during the trial period, and lastly, Mohammed Afroz, the juvenile convict was released on 20th December of 2015, just 3 years post a crime he committed all his senses, he was released on the basis of his age, an aspect which was kept in mind when it came to giving him punishment and not in accordance to the crime he committed. Justice was not denied but it was delayed, it was delayed for so long that the year the Nirbhaya convicts were hanged, saw 1429 reported cases of rape in that year itself in the national capital city of Delhi, showing how unfearful the offenders are of the legalities that follow their crime.

In terms of punishment, no country can match Saudi Arabia. As it is an Islamic country, its rules and regulations are based on Islamic Sharia law. If a person is found guilty of rape, they are publicly beheaded after a sedative is administered to the rapist, setting an example for others to not commit such a heinous crime, violating an individual in the worst way possible. People are afraid to commit crimes to influential people because they are afraid of the consequences. In the same way, they must be instilled with a sense of accountability and fear of the consequences of their actions. In the year 2013, Anti-Rape Bill was passed in India, promoting strong punishment for the offenders of sexual assault. If a person was convicted of rape assault, they were either sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment or life sentences or in some cases, death sentences were declared.

India, which saw a surge in the human rights movement, questioned capital punishment to be immoral as article 21 of the Indian constitution, which grants every citizen, the right to live manifests it in the same light. However, this is a ridiculous statement since keeping one person alive at the expense of many other members or potential victims in society is incomprehensible and, in fact, ethically wrong. A convicted rapist should be put forward with capital punishment for girls as young as 4 months to women as old as 80 years old who have been raped. As per official statistics, 1 woman is raped every 16 minutes in India, and that is just the official statistics, unofficial can't even be comprehended, which makes it even more important to formalize capital punishment, that is to instill a sense of fear in the hearts of people who take part in crimes against humanity, a punishment to felicitate for the most grievous, detestable, abhorrent and heinous crime. Mohammad Afroz shouldn't have been released, not because he was underage for the punishment he deserved as much as his associates who were hanged to death, if an individual is capable enough to indulge in a crime as grievous as rape, then he should also be culpable to its consequences or punishment, letting them get away because of their age, would let others follow their footsteps, thinking they will get away too.

As it is illegal in India for the press to print the identity of a rape victim, the victim was called Nirbhaya, which means "fearless," and her battle and death became a symbol of women's resistance to rape around the world, but is it all that the victims and survivors of rape deserve? Brought down to just a symbol of strength, or just a candlelight march across the nation? A rape victim or survivor deserves what can never be offered to them, and erased memory from their pain and suffering, so the next best thing is to have laws that protect people against such diabolical crimes and assure immediate justice and capital punishment for the convict. But what stands as the lamp in the dark tunnel, the stars in the dark sky, are parents like Nirbhaya’s, parents who saw their child in immense pain and suffering, and still chose to fight for justice for their lost child over such a long span, they had all the reasons to stop fighting but one reason to continue the battle, to let justice prevail for Nirbhaya, for their child.

“There is no crime greater than rape in my eyes, for a second, I can even justify murdering someone, but rape is out of the question for me in every sense, I can't imagine how girls as young as 4-month-old have been raped, are we even humans? Or masked monsters? Is this level of cruelty possible? What makes me numb is that there are cases of rape every day in the nation, and nothing and I mean nothing is being done to make stricter laws, or punish the goddamn unhuman convicts, it boils my blood that a rape convict walked away because he was underage, that's utter nonsense, if that person was old enough to do such an act of horror, he should be punished as severely as others. I am always heartbroken when I talk or hear about rape cases, for I not only feel helpless, I feel all the little ones I know around me or even I could potentially be those cases, I feel ashamed of us as a society that for us rape has been so normalized that we only see it as numbers.

“10 cases of rape reported in the national capital”, like really? Are we even considering that those were 10 cases were humans whose life has been scarred, whose family has been emotionally damaged, that it's going to take years for them to get out of this and still it will haunt them for life, and if justice doesn't prevail because of lack of evidence, all the hope they were holding onto will be lost?” says Arya a Psychology Honors graduate student from Delhi University.

Society has become so conveniently deaf to these issues, that until someone screams, these issues don't reach their ear. And, when it does reach their ear, they don't want to acknowledge it as something important because it doesn't disturb their privileged life narrative, for we as humans have become so selfish that until it hits home, it is foreign for us.

For how long will our demands fall over deaf ears, for how long will a person especially women be scared to walk home safely, till when will parents having a girl child be in a sense of fear for their child, but I will hope that if not us, our future generation do get to walk in Nehru Place after 8 pm without any sense of fear, that they do get to go on a drive at India Gate road at midnight without their fretful parents continuously calling them to reach home, I will hope that we teach our boys to behave and not our daughters to be precautionary. I hope we see beyond the hour of the clock, beyond the “dress she was wearing”, beyond the smile she was carrying, I will hope that we run after the convict and not the victim. I will hope for a time when chivalry is generalized and not glorified.

It should be loud and clear to all, that, “No”, means no, “Maybe” means no, and “I don't know” means no. Only “Yes” means yes. By the time readers end up reading this article, one woman was raped in our country.

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