Nirbhaya* was an intelligent, fearless and ambitious young woman.
- Four men who gang-raped a 23-year-old woman in 2012 will be executed
- The woman, known only as Nirbhaya, died two weeks after the attack
- In India, one person is raped every 15 minutes
She strove to be first in her class and found it difficult to relax at home unless she had completed her homework.
The 23-year-old college student also had a strong sense of justice, never afraid to call out harassment in a society where caste often determines how you are valued.
But seven years after her brutal rape and fatal assault on a bus in New Delhi, Nirbhaya’s mother can only remember her daughter in her last, dying days.
“I do not remember any of her happy moments,” Nirbhaya’s mother, Asha Devi, told the ABC.
“I remember her face soaked in blood and her body which looked like if she was attacked by animals.”
“She bravely fought till last breath. She wanted to live.”
The brutal gang rape and assault of the young woman in 2012 shocked the nation, prompting protests across India that called for an end to sexual violence as well as severe punishment for those responsible.
Four of her attackers are set to be executed on Saturday, February 1.
The woman, who the media dubbed Nirbhaya, which means “fearless” in Hindi, was flown to a Singaporean hospital more than a week after her attack.
Five men and a teenage boy were arrested and charged over her rape and murder.
The juvenile was released after serving only three years, while one of the accused described as the ringleader reportedly took his life in prison.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
The remaining four men are now spending their final days in isolation.
Early one morning they will be taken out of their cells, marched to the gallows inside the high-security prison, and hanged at exactly the same time until they are dead.
This will be justice, Indian style.
“My daughter wanted these men to be burned to death or hanged so that no other girl would face what she did,” Nirbhaya’s mother said.
“That was her last wish.”
The rapists have unsuccessfully tried every appeal possible, even submitting a mercy plea to the President, pushing back the hangings to at least early February.
Such delays have infuriated Nirbhaya’s family and supporters, who have vowed to have a candlelight vigil every night until the men are hanged.
“With the hangings of these men, I will be satisfied and relieved to fulfil my daughter’s last wish,” Nirbhaya’s mother said.
In India, someone is raped every 15 minutes
India has a rape problem.
How much worse it is than other parts of the world is debatable.
But ever since Nirbhaya’s attack prompted such widespread public outrage, the number of reported rapes has continued to grow.
The latest data, from 2018, shows there were more than 33,000 reported rapes across the country.
That is one every 15 minutes.
And there is no doubt there are many more sexual assaults that go unreported.
Women’s rights activist Yogita Bhayana, who last year set up the organisation People Against Rapes in India, said it was “divine intervention” that Nirbhaya’s case got public attention when so many rapes did not.
She hopes this is a turning point, stating that police are now taking the matters more seriously, and victims are more willing to come forward.
“These butchers or monsters deserve to be hanged,” she said.
“When they are hanged, we will definitely see a decline [in the number of rapes], because it’ll send a message.”
The death penalty is reserved in India for cases that are deemed “the rarest of rare”.
The last execution for a crime that involved rape was 15 years ago.
It is for these reasons Ms Bhayana thinks hanging these four rapists will act as a deterrent.
But she is also quick to point out that stemming the rate of violence against women will require much more than severe sentencing.
She wants support and education programs for young men, particularly those who leave school early.
And, importantly, a justice system that is far kinder to rape victims.
The Indian judiciary is plagued with problems.
Court cases are drawn-out and confusing.
Delays are common and appeals are frequent.
The system is clogged and overworked.
The ABC recently attended a court case to see the verdict handed down for two men accused of kidnapping and brutally raping a five-year-old girl in 2013.
The victim’s family were told that the judge needed another hour to finalise his remarks.
When they were finally allowed back in the courtroom, the judge was still not ready, and the matter was postponed for another three days.
The men were later found guilty.
The public has lost so much faith in the slow court process that when police shot four rape suspects in suspicious circumstances, the officers were labelled heroes by the local community.
Further complicating matters is English is the only language used in the court system, meaning many of India’s poor who only speak Hindi, or another local language, cannot understand what is going on.
‘Only the stupid get caught’
Clinical psychologist Rajat Mitra spent more than 10 years in India’s prison system dealing with sexual predators.
He argues there is no evidence the death penalty acts as a deterrent.
“The sexual offenders carry a feeling that they can get away with it and it is only the fools and only the stupid who get caught,” he said.
Dr Mitra now helps rape victims navigate the complex justice system.
In India, he said, compassion was the exception, not the rule.
“The sensitivity is not part of the manual,” Dr Mitra said.
“It is at a personal discretion of the police officer or the judge about whether to be sensitive or not.”
Dr Mitra has many stories to prove this point.
Once, a rape victim’s name was called out over the court intercom to come forward and identify her attacker.
The victim was traumatised and fled the courthouse to huddle in Dr Mitra’s car.
The magistrate was unapologetic, telling Dr Mitra: “OK, a mistake has been made but that doesn’t mean she has to act like this.”
Another time, he recalled, a doctor questioned why a rape victim was walking so slowly because the rape “did not happen yesterday”.
“The shortfall happens at many levels,” he said.
“It happens from the moment the victim goes or reports the crime to the police.”
*The victim’s name has been changed to protect her identity. In India, rape victims cannot be identified, even if they have died.
- Meeting the Dalai Lama - When A Living Legend Become Real
- The Festival of Color in the Foothills of the Himalaya
- A Soldier to Another
- P Chidambaram: The controversy's child
- Hotels in Kanpur
Indian gang rapists to be hanged after horrific 2012 assault on New Delhi bus have 1458 words, post on www.abc.net.au at January 30, 2020. This is cached page on Law Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.