30 December 2012 | by The Petticoat Journal | NEW DELHI
For the first time Indian democracy gets a voice, a peaceful voice, sans a leader
India as a democracy is waking up. Hundreds of people have been gathering continuously everyday at various places across the country to protest against violence against women in the wake of the brutal rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi. All this, without a political leader or any leader for that matter! Also, this protestor is mature. Despite attempts by some people to disrupt peace at protest sites and instigate violence, the protestors have refused to be carried away.
As if this was not striking enough, The Petticoat Journal found a rare bunch of protestors. We call them “rare” because nobody would have imagined they would be here. As we were winding up from Jantar Mantar at something like 2am on 30 December, we spotted five women. This reporter walked up to them and in the course of the conversation it was known that they were housemaids and had hired an auto rickshaw to reach Jantar Mantar all the way from Govindpuri in Nehru Place. So here we had Rekha, Maya Rani, Protima, Maya, and Aarti on this cold winter morning of Delhi and at that wee hour to make their contribution to the protests.
Why? “What everybody is protesting against happens almost every day in our locality,” said Rekha. Protima adds, “When we go to complain, the police treat us like sex workers addressing us in the most derogatory language.” Maya Rani is concerned about her college going daughter who studies in a college in Delhi University’s North Campus. “My daughter has been scared after this incident,” she says. Protima has a daughter and a teenage son. She says she is trying hard to ensure that her son does not take after the general male dominated mentality of the society. But, she says, it’s tough as boys are more receptive to the outside world than to their own parents, especially mothers.
Rekha, who has two adolescent sons, says her sons are still very young and listen to her so she is doing all that she can to “make sure they respect women as they grow up.” She says for her own safety, she carries a knife along with her. “It gets late at work most of the times. When I am walking back home and someone stops by and asks me to come along, I take out the knife and tell him I might die but first I will kill you for insulting me.”
Talking about the recent incident of gang rape in the city and rapists in general, all of them said, “These six rapists and all rapists should be punished by cutting their private parts and letting them live with it. Men try to suppress us only because of that. If that is not there, they will be a big nothing in this world.”
Earlier, on the previous evening, a gentleman was spotted sharing suggestions with a group of young protestors. This gentleman, Dr Rajesh Chand, said, “I am not here because I had nothing to do at home. I am here because I have two daughters. The elder daughter is 23 years old, is a co-pilot and loves to party. I am not going to stop her from living her life. So, I am here giving suggestions because I want a safe environment for my daughters. I am really concerned and want the change.” He said he wants to be a part of the cause and can be approached anytime for suggestions. The next morning, on 30th December, he was again there with new ideas, workable ideas. His ideas are being adopted by a group of youngsters who met during the protests and have got together to take it ahead to bring about a permanent change in the attitude of people towards issues like patriarchy and status of women. This group, doesn’t have a name yet. But they have a noble cause.
Among the suggestions that he gave, he emphasised on not stopping the protest after the six rapists of Nirbhaya are punished. Talking to this reporter, he continuously stressed upon addressing the larger issue of changing mentalities. He said that these six rapists will be punished as it is. There is so much protest they don’t have any political or influential support. They maybe the immediate concern but the long term issue is that such incidents and other forms of violence against women should end right here.
If you, or a woman or women around you, are subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other atrocities at home or anywhere else, here is what you can do.Know more