India Rape Victim's Death Prompts Vigils Across India, But This is Not Enough
Mumbai's vigil, in memory of the unidentified 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim, took place on Saturday December 29, with attendees marching nearly 4 kilometers, from the Gandhi statue at Juhu beach to Kaifi Azmi Park.
The mobilization of 1,500 people via Twitter and Facebook is admirable, but it is still not enough to halt rape across the country. Even in Mumbai, with a population of 14-20 million people (depending on the source), there should have been more people in the streets.
The rape victim died in a hospital in Singapore on December 29. The Delhi gang rape occurred on December 16, after the victim and a friend attended a movie. After boarding a bus, they were assaulted by five other passengers. On December 26, the victim was sent to Singapore for further treatment. The rape has prompted protests in Delhi and major cities throughout India.
According to Zee News, the day is being called "Black Saturday" with people all over the country protesting against the injustice.
Prompted by the tweet from actress Shabana Azmi: "Citizens of Mumbai including theatre, film personalities lead silent march at 5.30 pm today from Juhu Beach gandhi statue 2 Kaifi Azmi Park," The Mumbai vigil maintained a somber mood. Signs ranged from "My body, my city, my rights" to "It's not her shame it is ours" and "Girl child, boy child, our child."
According to police, the crowd consisted of about 1,500 people. The marchers included women and men, as well as Bollywood stars such as Kailash Kher, director Satish Kaushik, and famous lyricist Javed Akhtar, in addition to others.
As Aruna Prakash, a radio jockey for 90.8 Jaaga Mumbai said, "I'm a women, I was a girl, and I am a Delhite." Prakash was "enraged, angered and sad," at the news. She remarked that in the past girls were safe, but now that is not the case.
Sonam Revanker a young professional in Mumbai came to the protest with her brother. As she said, "It’s time someone takes some action." Revanker heard of the vigil through Facebook and Twitter and decided to come with her brother.
Others accidentally joined, such as Ravi Joshi, an IT professional who works in Mumbai. "We just came here to show visitors," Joshi said. "Even I have a daughter and I have sisters too. What happened was very cruel. Like a monstrous act, not a human act." Joshi and his family planned to march with the crowd for a short time.
As Bollywood actor Sameer Kochhar said, "I’m here to show solidarity and support. As an Indian and a Delhiite, I am saddened." He walked in order to "show that we do care and we need a change to happen."
Kochhar has spoken out against the Delhi rape in the past, writing for Telly Chakkar.
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women called on the Indian government to "do everything in their power to take up radical reforms, ensure justice and reach out with robust public services to make women’s lives more safe and secure."
Newspaper articles and opinion pieces have ranged from calling for castrating the perpetrators to calling for speedy action when it comes to rape cases. Some state governments are calling for all women teams to deal with crimes against women.
Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Aruna Broota, who is quoted in The Hindu said that to counter the rising fears among women and girls there is a need to educate boys and men. "They have to begin with some kind of workshops and therapy in schools and they must include the boys. There is an absolute need to involve the boys and men and to address the hierarchy in gender relationships."
Today's vigil will be followed by a protest on December 31 from Colaba to Gateway of India.