The young woman addressed as Nirbhaya raised questions about women’s right to autonomy and safety as never before. Here is a letter in her memory.
It has been four years since you left us with a void, an inner question, and a scream; a question that we ask amongst ourselves about that dreaded night of December 16th; a scream of angst against the baseless societal norms that still haven’t changed till date.
It has been four years and still, hundreds like you plead to be saved and have their cases pending or are either dead. You were a voice, a voice to this blind and dumb nation that overlooked what it meant to be a girl.
You were an inspiration, a ray of hope, a fire inside every heart…You were a revolution. You taught us that we cannot take this victimization anymore.
It has been four years and we haven’t recovered of everything that happened past your demise. We haven’t forgotten you, brave heart. We haven’t forgotten your sacrifice and the question that you left with us.
Your untimely death was not a message but a fire that still ignites when we hear…
It was a case which could have happened to any ordinary Delhi girl.
It has been four years and you did teach us that this was not just about you; it was a message that you left us – “That I want to be there, amongst all of you. Live like all of you.” It was you who set the bar and it was you who fought back when that accident happened. For us, the rape of a five-year-old, a sixty-year-old, and a passenger in an Uber are all harsh reminders of the brutality that you faced.
It has been four years and you have done so much for us. Many of us may not realize this, but you, my beloved, were a voice for all of us.
Stalking, voyeurism, harassing became recognized as crimes against all of us. It is not a ‘fun’ idea to pick up a woman and rape her. It is not what a MAN does to prove his gender.
It has been four years but you educated all of us without books – no matter how horrendous the abuse, we cannot afford to stay quiet. No matter if they call the abuse a stigma on us, we have to speak up.
We are not objects, we have a choice, and we have the freedom to choose.
It has been four years and still, the calls to ‘100’ ring every second.
It is the same Delhi, the same people but you have opened our eyes to not hush up the matter and not flee away when a PCR passes by. Living in a metropolitan city and being afraid of men is not just weakening us, but weakening the whole foundation of women’s society.
It has been four years and you have changed what it meant to be abused. You have raised a question about our police, our government, our system and us.
It has been four years and still, a father, an ex-lover, a husband, a boyfriend, a neighbour, a stalker, a stranger, a landlord, an employer, a gym instructor in the form of criminals are spared.
Entrenched patriarchy and extreme male chauvinism are still the biggest sources of this heinous crime.
Beloved Jyoti Singh Pandey, it has been four years but this society now understands that “Rape is Rape.”
It has been four years and we will be forever indebted to you.
One of us and one like you…
First published at author’s blog
Top image via Unsplash
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