The Indian protest that the world joined

25 January 2013 | by The Petticoat Journal | NEW DELHI

As we browse through the police and legal records, the 16 Dec incident of gang rape of a young medical student in Delhi looks like just one of the numerous and even more brutal sexual crimes being committed against women across the country and the world. But like we need that one last bit of the flame to set the milk rising, and spill if you are not looking, the Dec 16 incident was just that flame.

The anger and frustration that was simmering within people for a very long time, boiled and spilled out of the vessels onto the streets when the powers-that-be, and also the many of the masses, weren’t looking. Interestingly, many have refused to look until much after. Not surprisingly then, the ripples have been felt not just in Delhi and India. This wave that strings along the many not-so-radical minds as much as the radical ones, has taken the world by storm.
People heard about the rising in their respective countries and joined in when they happened to be in India. Helene and Bernard Ouellet from Canada knew about the incident and the subsequent protests throughout. On 27 January, when they landed in New Delhi from Rajasthan, they joined the human chain at Central Park, Connaught Place.

Bernard & Helene Ouelette as part of the human chain in CP

“We had come to know about the incident, and the subsequent protests, in Toronto. There were local protests too around Christmas,” says Helene who is a teacher of special education. Bernard says when he “saw people standing in a chain around here, I stopped to read the placards they were carrying. But most being in Hindi, I had to ask someone to translate them for me. Once I knew the cause, I couldn’t have left without being a part of it.”

At Jantar Mantar, there was Tanja Jotanović, a Serbian from Germany, who was overwhelmed to see the “genuine involvement of people” in the protests. A doctor by profession, she has been visiting India every year since 2008. “I could’ve never imagined such a protest could happen in India. People’s minds are opening up,” she says. Although European countries also have a lot of such cases and other cases of violence against women, but India being a bigger country by area and population, it reports many more cases, Tanya says.

Last month when she heard of the incident and protests, she had told her mentor at the university in Tuebingen, near Stuttgart, where she was studying trauma surgery, that when in India, she will join the protests may it be only for a while. She did so by spending one full day at Jantar Mantar. Her mentor had told her, “Be careful. Don’t get raped!” (That should shame us as Indians)

By late afternoon, Marilyn Groves, a retired US state employee, had joined in at Jantar Mantar. She recalls that she was in India the day the young victim succumbed to gang rape injuries. “I was really saddened! I thought about her family.” she says. Although it’s the same for women anywhere in the world, but better recognition of women’s rights in the US helps. However, that does not stop men from taking advantage, Marilyn, a Buddhist tourist, says.

Marilyn Groves, a US national at Jantar Mantar

She is impressed with the reaction of people, “It’s moving! I really hope something comes out of the protests and laws and mindsets change for better.”

What to Do!

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.

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