Her name was Jyoti Singh. It’s high time for all of us to refrain from calling her Nirbhaya, Amaanat or Damini. The perpetrators and depraved minds are the ones who should be ashamed and not her or any rape victim. Victims of rape or sexual violence are ostracized and it doesn’t honor us as a society. She was one among many who are victims of rape, tortured and killed by murders who bore no shame, guilt or regret. The verdict has come after four years. It’s shameful and tragic that court verdicts take such a long time and the moment is now to implement fast-track courts to deliver justice, as pointed out by the Justice Verma Commission.
There are many victims who are shamed for no fault of them when they suffer rape at the hands of bastards who think they will get away with crime. The biggest problem is our attitudes to sexual violence and crime, albeit rape. The rape of Jyoti Singh was not just brutal and barbaric but shows our deeply enshrined sick mentality when it comes to such a heinous crime. As the learned judges have pointed out, it’s the rarest of rare cases that demand that the guilty are hanged. No civilized society can condone this violent crime where rape is all about power to control a woman. Let’s say No to this stigma called rape. The onus lie on the perpetrators and not the victim.
I hope that with this judgment, we, as a society, will stop using brainless arguments such as ‘she asked for it’, ‘was roaming at night’, ‘boys are boys and make such small mistakes’, or ‘wearing short skirts’. If any, this landmark judgment should serve as a precedent and time for us to spread awareness that if someone commits such a crime, they will be dealt severely by the law. I think this is what matters in the face of critics of death penalty arguing that it serves as no deterrent. It should be made in such a fashion that it deter crimes against women and small children. It was a case that shocked our conscience as a society where the young people showed the way by protesting against such atrocity and braved police brutality or the state’s coercion to send a loud and clear message. Enough is enough.
Yes! I was happy on hearing that the Supreme Court judges have upheld the verdict given by the High Court in the case of Jyoti Singh. I clapped. I don’t know whether the judgment brought closure since there are still some dark or far-flung corners not only in India but across the world, where the victims have dim but fading hope for justice. Perpetrators roam free. A case in point is Bilkis Bano, whose perpetrators have not been hanged. One is tempted to ask, Is it not a travesty of justice? There are so many such cases in remote villages in India where the victims lack the media exposure or the privilege of the masses fighting for them to bring media attention and the corrupt police shooing them away. We have miles to cover when victim suffer from the lack of education and awareness while at the same time, being turned down from filing FIR. What happens to the Nirbhaya fund which is still unutilized to support rape victims?
The argument against taking a life for a life stands valid but we shouldn’t forget that this case was an exceptional one where it stood important to send a very strong statement on the need and quest for justice. Justice for Jyoti Singh. Justice for her parents who relentlessly fought for the memory of their daughter to be honored and they left no stone unturned, tirelessly doing the rounds of courts and police stations. Justice is the one thing left when everything fails and it’s where commoners build their hope in a democracy. Remember the Jessica Lall case where the media played an important part in mounting pressure to re-open the case where the accused Manu Sharma was initially let off due to his political clout!
However, the saddest part in the Jyoti Singh case is that the most violent culprit is roaming scot-free and got away with crime. The lamest excuse that the judiciary could give was that he was a minor at the time of the crime but was indeed an adult when he was released. It’s a dichotomy and irony of sort. We spoke at length on how when someone commits a crime, he is fully aware of his act and for that matter, even an 11-year-old has the mental faculty in the right to know what an action entails. Sorry, I beg to differ. For criminals, there are no repentance and not once those bastards showed remorse, as reported by the media. It’s one of the reasons why I ain’t sure whether there is closure in the gruesome rape and murder of Jyoti Singh.
The young and brilliant girl would have turned 28 on May 10. I still call her a brave heart for she fought against death in her dying moments and gave a courageous statement in front of the court magistrate. She asked that her perpetrators are punished and buried alive. As an Indian and a human being, I clap this judgment which I believe is historic and a landmark one. The judiciary had no choice but to send a strong message to criminals. A precedent has been made. Death penalty was warranted in this case. There is no second choice. As it is, the struggle doesn’t end here and lawmakers, civil society, and citizens must come together to ensure that such crimes are curbed and our daughters can roam free whether it’s during the day or night. Educate our boys to respect women as individuals but also not to suppress sex as an emotion on account of ridiculous social, religious or moral mores.
We may debate at length on death penalty but it’s the courageous parents of Jyoti Singh who went through the entire ordeal and lost their daughter to devils and vultures. Nothing can compensate their loss. Their parents may not be schooled but they had a dream for their daughter to conquer the world. Justice had been delivered in this case. As a civilized society, we cannot afford to delay or turn a deaf ear and debate on whether it will help curb crime or else it will be the biggest denial of justice. I rest my case.
We remember you, brave heart, as Jyoti Singh.