Get us the law first, then give it her real name

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 02, 2013 07:00 hrs

The media claims that Shashi Tharoor has 'kicked up' another controversy by asking for the new amendments to the laws against rape and sexual assault in India to be named after the Delhi gang-rape victim.

What is so controversial about the suggestion remains a mystery, at least to this writer. The suggestion has far more foundation to it than the
ridiculous multitudes of nicknames most TV channels and newspapers have already created for her.

Those names given to her - movie characters, fearless, peaceful etc. -  sound less like tributes and more like our fictionalized fantasies about what she needs to be in order to fulfill her role as the martyr of the cause.

And this is seen as a sign of respect.

Is there a greater tragedy in this country than the existence of the belief that we still have any respect left to bestow upon her?

Respect is given to those who do grand deeds or make great sacrifices. The victim did not do any grand deed or make any great sacrifice. A horrible crime was forcibly done to her and then her life was brutally taken from her by six men.

There is no respect, no honor that we as a nation can ever give her. She did not need our respect; she needed safety and the chance to live a long and happy life. And now that can never be.

There are those who feel that calling her the 'Delhi gang-rape victim' is somehow wrong, dirty and disrespectful. But will she ever be anything else?

She was a person who could have had a good life. She could have been a friend, a colleague, a wife, a mother. But she never will be any of those now. She is what our society, our police, our politicians and some men have turned her into - a murdered gang-rape victim.

And if there is any name that she should be known by, it should be the name under which she was killed - her own.

And even then we are only using her name.

We can give the law her name, but not as an honor - since our shame should prevent us from even thinking we can 'honor' her. Rather we can give the law her name simply to register for all time the fact that it took her death to create this law.

As Tharoor himself pointed out, the parent's consent needs to be taken. If they agree, then all right. If they do not agree then they need not give us any reasons and we should never bother them again.

But we should not give the law a nickname. If not her real name, then it needs no title.

In the end however, what we absolutely must keep in mind is that while Tharoor has his intentions in the right place with his suggestion, what we really need now is a series of changes - of which the law is only one part.

We need to change ourselves as a society. This might take several decades but we have to begin somewhere and so we can begin now.

We need to change our police force and the manner is which they see crime and punishment - the prevention of the first and the enforcement of the second is something they seem to consider incidental to their jobs. This will also take a long time, but let us put in place the steps that will eventually take them there.

The government needs to re-think its attitude to citizens. We are not cattle to be curfewed after dark and milked every five years. But this logic will take a few elections to sink in - that is, only if we as a society actually bother to vote that way - and the nearest is two years away.

And finally, we also need new laws. Not in the next several years, not whenever the Home Ministry has time to 'look at the file', but now. As soon as the recommendations come in and a new law can be formulated, the Parliament should meet and pass that law after due debate.

Once the law is passed in both Houses and the day before it is going to be implemented, if possible, we can give it her real name.

So Mr. Tharoor, thanks for the is a good one. But get us the law first.

Have your say: Should the Delhi gang-rape victim's name be revealed?

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