She was somebody’s daughter. She was just on her way home from a movie with her male friend in Delhi, India. It was only 9:30 pm. Instead of walking or hailing a taxi, they saw a charter bus with tinted windows. A nice, safe looking charter bus with a young man, a minor, offering to drive them home for 10 rupees a piece. Little did they know, it would not only be the end of their night, it would be the end of her life.
There is a nightmare that is haunting women around the world. A horrifying nightmare that remains most vivid while awake, when the mind wanders through the details of that night. A horror story worse than anything Stephen King or Wes Craven could ever imagine, conjure up or even fathom to be real. Take every purely evil main character in any horror novel, fact or fiction, and place them on that bus, if you can let your mind step onto it. I find myself unable to breathe at the base of the entrance. I can’t even look up at the bus driver and into the eyes of a demon.
I have no idea what the victim looked like. Whether her eyes were big and full of light. Whether she had a sharp nose or a tiny one. Whether she had dimples, when she smiled. It doesn’t matter, because all I can see is someone’s daughter. All I can see is someone’s baby. All I can hear are giggles, as she boarded that bus. Giggles that faded into pain, suffering and utter darkness.
When I close my eyes and cover my ears, I envision time scrambled and erased. Somehow, I’m there that night in Delhi. I grab her arm just before she boards the bus and offer her a safe, ride home. I wish I could close my eyes tight enough to make it so, to see her safe and sound in her bed that night.
She was raped. I would say “brutally” raped, but the word “brutal” is not evil enough to describe what happened to her. She was mutilated and left for dead. Six men tried to kill her, but her spirit and friend kept her alive long enough for the world to lay on pins and needles and pray for her survival. She didn’t survive, but others still have a fighting chance with change.
I will not retell her story because it’s too painful to bear. It’s so grotesque and evil that I cannot type the words to tell it. I picture myself so many times in my youth having poor judgment, but being lucky that I didn’t enter my exit to the world, the way she did. She didn’t even skate the same line of poor judgment, as I have in my past. She simply entered a charter bus at 9:30 pm, thinking it was a safe ride home. (You can find details of the incident here on Wikipedia, if you want to know more.)
The violence that night did not end with her torture. It continued during a protest of thousands at India Gate and Raisina Hill, just outside the Parliament of India and the residence of the President of India. Protestors were hit with batons, water cannons and tear gas shells. Many were arrested. The problem: the police response to the protest was more defining, than their response to the rape.
I can’t imagine the degree of punishment those six men deserve to endure. It will never live up to the crime they committed. And, to say that the awareness, prosecution and punishment of such crimes upon women should be escalated and reexamined is an absolute understatement. This was a case where one victim survived long enough to be rushed to the hospital, so the world became aware of it. Thousands of similar cases, some lesser in magnitude but still harrowing in nature, occur in India. The victim dies, tries to fight back through the system and fails or never says a word out of fear or shame. Very few of these cases ever find true justice.
In certain parts of India, there is a term sometimes used to describe aggressive catcalls, groping and even molestation of women, Eve Teasing. Eve is a reference to the biblical first woman. And, as Eve was sometimes described as a temptress, the violation of these women is belittled. It implies they instigated the crime. Any of the three crimes cannot possibly be reduced to “teasing”.
This case is a milestone. Defense attorneys are thankfully turning down the case, thus far. There is no defense, just a determination of punishment. The government needs to calm the chaos and riots by offering change and by passing new laws. Ultimately, this girl’s horrifying death should mark her as a hero who saved thousands of young girls and women (millions, over time) from ever suffering a fraction of her fate.
I write about this case to bring awareness, as so many others over the blogosphere and social media are doing. We have the best version of Telephone and awareness is the first step toward change. This was somebody’s daughter. Hug your daughter, if you have one, and spread the word. This young woman’s justice is the change her case will instigate and we are the ones who must guide it to fruition.