December 2012: Delhi, ‘We Want Justice’

Photograph: Ruchir Joshi

Photograph: Ruchir Joshi

Notes from Raisina Hill

December 18-22, Journal:

Some boys climb up the lamp posts, holding up their slogans: Hang Rapists, Stop Violence, Respect Women. They’re received with loud cheers, and then an even bigger cheer goes up when one young woman scales a lamppost. Soon, all five of the ornate iron lamp-posts in the park near Raisina Hill have been taken over by young women, sending out sincere if mixed messages. (Read full post)

On the death penalty:

December 22, in The Hindu:

When I think of that young girl, fighting for her life after sustaining severe injuries when six men in Delhi raped her and assaulted her male friend, I also want justice. Like many Indians, across the board, I want those men to be jailed forever, so that they can never hurt another person again; a base but very human part of me would like them to suffer as much as they made that woman suffer.

But when the conversation moves, as it does so frequently these days, to the question of the death penalty for rapists, I find myself unable to want that kind of vengeance. (Read the full story)

Journal: India Gate, December 23:

Baba Ramdev was supposed to be on his way, because of course *that’s* what yesterday’s young protestors had secretly wanted all along–Baba Ramdev! Riding into Delhi on top of a bus! The solution to the problem of sexual violence against women in India that none of us had been bright enough to dream up! (Read the full post)

December 24: At the heart of Delhi, no space for you:

They wanted safer streets. They wanted the police, and their parents, to stop telling them what to wear, when to go out, which friends they should be with, how to behave. Many of the young men wanted no part of a system—a system they recognized clearly, though they didn’t call it “patriarchy”—that took in boys and men, and spat them out the other end as rapists and abusers. The girls and young women out there wanted, as many banners said, respect and freedom, not protection; they really, really wanted to be treated equally.

(Read the full post)

Talking rape, published in The Hindu:

The rape survivor is also the domestic worker who can’t grieve for herself and her injuries because she has to get into work the next day, the sex worker who can’t report her rape at the police station because she’ll run the risk of being raped by more policemen, the Dalit woman in Haryana who has no privacy after being violently raped because everyone in her village knows who did this to her, and how. Many rape survivors don’t have a choice in their bravery; the circumstances of their lives force upon them the basic courage it takes to get up the day after you’ve been raped and make rotis, go to office, go to the construction site where you have a hard-won job, look after the children, clean someone else’s house. (Read the full story)

Journal: December 27, A Protest Blocked:

As you walk up Raisina Hill, a walk that every citizen was freely able to take not so long ago, before security barriers began to define Delhi, Rashtrapati Bhavan dips out of sight, the dome of power disappearing. Some of the policemen were shyly embarrassed when they realised that the might of the state had been brought out against a scant 300 citizens. (Read the full story)

(‘For Anonymous’ was written early on the morning of the 29th, when a friend SMSed to say that the young girl had died. It was an attempt to make some sense of that day’s grief and anger.)

She had not asked to become a symbol or a martyr, or a cause; she had intended to lead a normal life, practicing medicine, watching movies, going out with friends. She had not asked to be brave, to be the girl who was so courageous, the woman whose injuries symbolised the violence so many women across the country know so intimately.

Journal: December 30, Jantar Mantar:

The shrines, mourners, candlewax rosaries and policemen at Jantar Mantar, the day after the young woman died from her injuries.

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