Opinion: RIP Amanat… When will India wake up?

I feel as if I was very close to the case of Amanat (Damini) who sadly lost her life just a few hours ago after a 13-day battle against the injuries she sustained after been raped and assaulted by six men on a moving bus in Delhi. I am pretty sure there are more out there who, despite not living in India and despite not knowing her personally, prayed for her recovery. However, it’s important to highlight that this is very much media personification of a case of which there are many duplicates and variations – especially in Delhi, as one has heard. I have so many thoughts in my head… and what better way to express them than with words.

Firstly, my emotions were very much conjured up when watching NDTV’s ‘We The People’ debate about this case and issues surrounding the rape law in India. There was much discussion among the panel – many of which were well-known names – and also the audience present to express opinion. What horrified me the most is when Barkha Dutt asked for a show of hands of those who had been groped inappropriately or sexually assaulted in the capital of Delhi. The number of hands that went up were an utter disgrace and a true reflection that laws not only need to be changed but a call for society to be brought onto the straight and narrow. However, how does one change the attitude of society? How does one stop a man from thinking that when he wants to, he can pretty much touch a girl or rape her as if it were his God given right? The answer? Changes can’t happen overnight. However, Delhi is the capital city of India. To me, it screams out that many on the programme were calling it the ‘Rape capital’. Surely this is not a tag that the city ‘achieved’ overnight? It must’ve taken time to get branded as such a place… and more significantly, it must’ve taken a very many number of incidents and a certain kind of group to think that it was acceptable. Let’s take a moment to think about how the city must be governed. Yes, education has the potential to change society and its attitudes over time but what about those governers who allow for such crimes to be committed? What about those who turn a blind eye? Worse still, what about those who are in authority and committing such crimes themselves? How does a woman (or a man for that matter) protect his ‘izzat’ with such monsters scattered in society?

Put yourself in Amanat’s shoes for just a few moments. What chance would she have had against SIX men? What chance would any woman… a mother, a sister, a daughter.. what chance would she have had? I overheard some speaking about this incident saying that it’s down to the way a girl dresses. Oh really? That’s about as valid a point as saying that rape is ignited by Bollywood’s item numbers! Yet, on ‘We The People’ and also on a separate phone-debate on NDTV, I recall hearing that many think that the like of a seductively dressed Katrina Kaif in a ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ or a Vidya Balan in ‘Ooh La La’ are making men so sexually aroused that they are immediately put into a mindset whereby they want to have sex with any girl who walks past them. Seriously, what an absolutely ridiculous thought. Films are NOT REAL. Item numbers are present in movies because they serve a certain purpose and that is usually to get audiences to the cinema and to give a film publicity. Just because one sees a choli-suit wearing Kareena Kapoor dancing to a ‘Fevicol Se’, doesn’t mean that a license is instantly given to a man who feels aroused which then makes it OK for him to sexually assault a woman! Entertainment should be exactly that…. ENTERTAINMENT. If you feel any other way then seriously you’re stuck in the dark ages.

So many people, from all walks of life, have been tweeting since news broke about Amanat’s sad death. Many people feel the answer to such an act is for the six men who ‘murdered’ this girl to be hanged. Once again, I am finding these kinda of comments a little difficult to fathom. What will the death penalty solve? Will it stop another man in another village from raping another young girl? (Yes that is a generalised image) Will it really send out the right message to victims, culprits… and society? As I said on Twitter myself, capital punishment is NOT answer – in fact, it’s a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. It will achieve zilch apart from making you feel better… but will it even do that? At the moment, the world is waiting for India to make a stand for rape victims around the country. All eyes are on a nation which is currently being depicted as having a broken society… as a society which sees nothing wrong in having its men think that they are powerful because they have a sexual organ. NO! Education is the answer… Maybe you won’t be able to bring about change in the next few weeks or months but put things in place which will ensure that the future generation will not need to relive these excruciating scenes of a young woman’s intestine’s having to be removed because she had sustained so many injuries during a sexual attack… and may THIS generation be under no illusion that Amanat’s is an isolated case.

Amanat’s case has served – so far – to highlight the many wrongs in Delhi society. Whilst it would be unfair to say that Indian society was the same throughout, it is equally important to understand that Amanat is just one in many. Since her tragic story emerged, I have spotted so many news stories tweeted by just NDTV alone about rapes of infants, deaths of infants who have been raped, suicides of rape victims, etc. Let’s not make Amanat’s case where we let our vision stop.

Amanat’s story is tear-jerking… why? For me, it is so because she so wanted to live. Anyone else in her shoes would struggle to show that much strength but her courage should be inspiration to us all. It is her body that gave up on her, not her spirit. What is needed now is not to let that spirit of hers die… Time for the Indian MASSES to speak and keep speaking until they get results. The Government seem to be buying time. It should now be a personal mission for every Indian to stop these unjust acts and fight for freedom of women in India. How many more rapes or deaths will it take?

As I head to bed tonight, my thoughts are with Amanat’s family who would have lived almost every pain since the incident with her throughout the last 13 days. My thoughts are also with the other victims of an Indian society’s unthinkable ‘norms’ that see power given to those who least deserve it.

I am not afraid to say I shed a tear… not just because Amanat died despise millions of prayers that she wouldn’t… but because I am afraid that it may take something like this for India to wake up. When will India wake up?

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