Person of the year: The victim

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 23, 2012 16:20 hrs

Since there is a very wise convention of not naming a rape victim, some people have started calling her Damini, while others Nirbhaya. Whatever it is, it is impossible to imagine the trauma of the victim of the recent brutal gang-rape in a moving bus in New Delhi. It is downright horrific.

The criminals behaved like animals and the charges of “gang-rape”, “brutal assault” and “attempt to murder” combined together make a lot of people call for capital punishment. It seems quite justified.

There are also demands of chemical castration and elsewhere there were reports that eve teasers were lynched in Jharkhand.

When the accused reached Tihar Jail, there are allegations that they were beaten up by other inmates, such is the disgust arising from viewing the crime.

But it is a miracle how the victim made it out of it all alive. While she is battling for her life and has undergone multiple surgeries, even slipping into a coma, the doctors have commended her tremendous fighting spirit.

She has been on ventilator support for many days and in a great act of courage she wrote on a piece of paper that she wanted to live, since she couldn’t speak.

The effect of all this has already been tremendous. It has received international attention and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women has urged the central government for radical reforms.

Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has already talked of setting up five fast track courts. And unlike the anti-corruption movement, Congress president Sonia Gandhi actually met some representatives of the movement.

There was uproar in Parliament and the incident has led to an outrage all across the country. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj called for capital punishment for rapists. Even cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who himself has recovered from cancer, dedicated his man of the match award and victory in a T20 tournament to the victim.

Activists Baba Ramdev and Arvind Kejriwal have got involved in the agitation and some rape victims showed great courage and narrated their plight to crowds, so that the common man may have a better idea of the heinous crime.

But what is downright huge and momentous is the absolute spontaneous, apolitical and large-scale protest all across the country. Many cities have seen rallies and candlelight vigils, but New Delhi has been the epicentre of it all.

Thousands of young boys and girls in the capital have been venting their rage in places like Raisina Hill, India Gate and Jantar Mantar. There have been intense protests in JNU and Delhi University too.

Women power and anger is on display as young girls have been shouting into the camera, taking the policemen head on, even trying to snatch away the lathis of aggressive policemen.

In one case, a young girl breached a barricade in Raisina Hill and had to be carried away by the police. In another incident, a group of girls went under buses screaming “we want justice”. The buses were meant to ferry away protestors and couldn’t move because of that.

The ruling central government as usual behaved with high-handedness. While on Saturday initially the police tried to maintain calm and try to control things through peaceful means, later they totally changed track.

Water cannons were used and protestors were lathicharged as the authorities tried to impose Section 144 (which is against unlawful assembly) in the entire Delhi district! That move failed spectacularly as the protests continued unabated.

What we are seeing is nothing short of a revolution. The people are angry and are making their voices heard. The authorities are scared and have already agreed to a few of the demands given by the rape protestors and will have to give into even more if the protests continue like this.

Such was the intensity that even the ODI retirement of the great Sachin Tendulkar was pushed to second lead.

One hopes that the victim undergoes a speedy recovery and manages to lead a normal life after this, for she has single-handedly ignited the nation with her courage.

This is just the beginning and we could well witness a change in attitude in the society, which is probably the most important thing of all.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at