No Country for Women: Nirbhaya’s Legacy

October 9, 2013

The 16th of December last year saw a crime committed in a moving bus in southern Delhi, a crime so heinous that the world watched in horror as local and international news agencies reported on its brutality. In what is now known as the Nirbhaya case, a twenty-three year old physiology student was gang-raped, sodomized, and left to die by the roadside.

Public outrage pervaded the country after the incident as citizens took to the streets demanding the harshest possible punishment for the attackers. Delhi, where this tragedy occurred, received the dubious distinction of being India’s “rape capital.” Owing to privacy laws for rape cases in India, media outlets bestowed the victim with several different positive names – Nirbhaya, or “Brave One,” by far the most popular.

Nirbhaya herself is no more, having succumbed to her injuries thirteen days after being raped. But her memory lives on – an unforgettable and painful reminder of the violence many women in India and elsewhere face on a daily basis.

The Nirbhaya case was put on a legal “fast track,” and four of the accused received the death sentence; another committed suicide in custody; an additional suspect, a juvenile at the time of the incident, was sentenced to three years in a correctional facility. While many across India hailed the decision as justice well served, the outcome sparked many questions. Human rights activists said the death penalty would not end crimes against women. Consternation was raised over the fate of the “juvenile,” who incidentally is of age now.

But the most burning question should be whether Indian society at large has simply absolved itself of responsibility in crimes against women, for despite the media attention given to this and similar cases, there seems to be little change in perception. Several have gone on record making controversial (possibly well-meaning albeit misguided) comments calling for women to dress modestly and not venture out unaccompanied at night. Yet very few would ask a man what he was wearing if he was sexually attacked. Why should a woman’s outfit and where she goes entitle others to her body?

There is no justification for infringing on the rights of a fellow being, and the sooner this is understood, the sooner there can be an end to pointless, patriarchal discourse on “loose women asking to be raped.” It is indeed a sorry state of affairs in a country where goddesses are venerated by faithful millions yet women have to suffer discrimination from the cradle to the grave.

If Nirbhaya’s legacy can teach us one thing, it is that a crime against women is a crime against humanity. Moreover, rape is not limited to India or women. It is essential, of course, for all victims to have the courage to speak out against oppressors and pursue all options, legal or otherwise, available to them. But what is also needed is for a given society to examine how it promotes attitudes that assign blame to the victims of such crimes, and make it easier for perpetrators to shield themselves at the expense of the vulnerable.

Everything else –  speedy justice, death for rapists, sentencing of juveniles – is secondary. Nirbhaya bravely fought till the very end, and as testament to her courage, it is our duty to do so too.



By Jerusha Sequeira
Jerusha Sequeira is journalism student at the American University of Sharjah. She is currently in her final year. She received the Dubai International Film Festival Young Journalist Award in 2012. She has also received the Sheikh Khalifa scholarship from her university.
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Comment on this article

  • William, Bantwal

    Fri, Oct 18 2013

    Keep it up Jerusha. Good move. There are many things which led such a crime. Mostly people are not educated and not broad minded/social minded. One month compulsory social work in helping others, looking after old suffering sick people will be good. Now porn films are available in all areas so it makes curiosity and unwanted lust for sex in many male minds. Killing of Nirbhaya was beyond human killing. Still our judiciary is so popless, it took long. Even in Mumbai rape case, all proof is evident, still the court wants the victim to narrate the whole story. Is it lawful? How many time, it wants to hear it???

  • Thomas Saldanha, Bangalore/Dubai

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Your concern is genuine, but I am afraid you have failed to analyse the root cause of this crime. Everyone calls it a gang-rape but I see it differently, it is nothing but a cold blooded murder.
    I don't believe that a normal man would ever rape and murder a person of any sex.
    These are mentally sick perverts, psychopaths and they simply enjoy committing such crimes. A normal person would flee the place when any of his accomplices tries to assault or rape her brutally.
    How a burglar is tempted to steal money from a rich guy, the same way sick men too are tempted to commit such crimes when women roam around with half naked dresses, tight-fit leggings and tops, and women of today are desperate to expose their body parts which will attract men's attention.
    Hope women realize that style and modesty both go hand in hand and their safety is in their hands, only then society will respect them and treat them fairly.

  • Roy D' Silva, Cordel / Dubai

    Sat, Oct 12 2013

    Good Jerusha.. keep focusing on the issues the society confronts
    which could have been avoided. There are stringent laws but we lack the required ordinance to enforce them due to corruption. Otherwise India could be a safe place, atleast for its tax paying citizens. God bless You.

  • Veena , Dubai

    Sat, Oct 12 2013

    Well written article Jerusha! Keep writing and may God bless you with bright future!

  • Ben, sunkasale

    Fri, Oct 11 2013

    Well done Jerusha. But even after that incident several more have taken place including the one of a medico in manipal.
    this shows there is something terribly wrong in india and elsewhere in the world.
    wish such horrific crimes come to an end somehow.
    Keep writing more such articles.

  • Jossie Mascarenhas, Bajpe / Dubai

    Fri, Oct 11 2013

    The main problem in India is the corruption which has even pervaded into the justice system. Even though Nirbhaya’s case was so clear-cut, look how many turns it took and how many lies the defense Lawyer was cooking up. In fact there should be an amendment to punish those lawyers who put forward some false arguments like the defense lawyer doing this in this case, including one that the juvenile was attending a church organized show on that fateful day. If the justice is served without any delay or hitch the crime rate will reduce. But I am deeply pessimistic. The legal system in India is sold too.

    Indeed a very relevant observation. Your writing style and language are superb. I am sure you will do great. One statement in your profile should not go unnoticed.....

    “She has also received the Sheikh Khalifa scholarship from her university.”

    This should be something. Whatever it means - as the name suggests it is big - I guess so far no Mangalorean has ever accomplished this feat of being awarded such a prestigious one. At least I have not heard of or I may have missed it. And when such accolades do come by, Daiji must be informed and event published so that it becomes an inspiration to other Mangies. Please won’t you spare some time to enlighten us about this - like the ion criteria, the merit requisites and the background on which this is given etc. Just curious.

    And for all the Sequeira's, remember she is not just a Sequeira, she is first a Manglorean !

  • Maxim Castelino(Babila)and family, Mangalore/ Kulshekar

    Fri, Oct 11 2013

    Well written and motivative article dear Jerusha. Keep writing,wish you all the best. God bless u.

  • Ethan Avidhan Hans, Florida/ mangalore

    Fri, Oct 11 2013

    I appreciate your talent Jerusha. S but try to really analyze from the point/ view of both the genders as we need to find the root cause to root out the evil, this not only hurts women but it hurts men too any one can say what happened it is wrong but let us go to the root cause either you need to kill all the men or neuter them after birth which is impossible , for any Male sex is a need not a want ,maybe it is not so with women, Take for instances many of the countries have very strict laws like beheading etc etc, but has it stopped the crime no, when it is known that every Male person has got an inherent problem not only the law but every person should take precautions not to excite it , have you checked the net for pornography that is available in India, also so much display of female and male anatomy on National TV and Movies what have we done towards it , we support the Gay which is basically a sickness which need to be treated like high libido ,

  • Ethan Avidhan Hans, Florida/ mangalore

    Fri, Oct 11 2013

    have you checked the gender biased rules that which are being implemented in our society and only a gender with vengeance is taking advantage of these laws to ruin a person’s future totally why are not these taken into considerations law should never be gender biased!! You can push any animal only till the corner then when there is no escape it attacks so please do not push any human being to a corner without hope, because every human being lives only on hope ! to sum it up 1) get rid of Gender Biased Laws 2) Implement a red light district in every major cities (e.g. Mumbai) 3) fight against pornography on net or degradation human anatomy for commercial purposes in any media or form, 4) we require more Moral based movies and sit coms on TV 5) every child should be taught the human Morals basically how to treat another human being( be it male or female or gender neutral)

  • essell, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 10 2013

    Mr Braganza what would you say about 25 girls disappearing in Dharmasthala every year?

  • John DSouza, Bejai / Qatar

    Thu, Oct 10 2013

    No country, society, family and children can be without women
    It is inhuman behavior creates the feeling like no country for them

  • Navin Rego, Bejai / Qatar

    Thu, Oct 10 2013

    Good Article Jerusha. Very well written. May God bless you with a very bright future.
    Good comments by Roshan Braganza (Mumbai) / Mahesh (Kinnigoli) as well. Worth noting.
    I would say that everyone should enjoy freedom and should be able to do what they like. But this is true for an ideal society which is not the case. Dressing modestly or going out unaccompanied at night is definitely one's choice but then the associated risks need to be evaluated by the same person. Our society is like a jungle. All sorts of creatures live here and not all are same. For example : A rabbit has the right to roam freely in the jungle but he cannot stand in front of a lion and say that he has full right of freedom and so the lion should not attack him. Will the lion care for the rabbit ?

  • Rosy D'souza, Bajpe, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Well written article Jerusha. We, the SEQUEIRA'S are proud of you! Keep writing. God Bless you.

  • Roshan Braganza, Mumbai

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    The 'Nirbaya' case is blown out of proportion , thanx to media frenzy and witch hunt . Yes , the crime is barbaric but more intense crimes happens on daily basis and never get noticed . And its not only about gender , there is increasing crime against men too , specially by women. The feminists media always capitalise on women sensitive issues , to create public outcry , thus support vested interests. Every law and clauses written in india now a days is anti men. Lets fight against this hooliganism and agree that its not gender specific.

  • Mahesh, Kinnigoli Dubai

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Nothing special in this article.Its like you know there is devil waiting for you.Still i will go in between devil because i have equal right .Afterall who is doing rape is just a devil.A rapist can not be a Human being.In a society there are devils and good human also.It is better we encourage people to take some precaution because we do not know when and where devil attacks.Simple giving lecture on women rights will not eradicate this.Afterall all men are not rapist.Ofcouse women should have equal right does not mean she should be allowed to enter the devils house.If her boyfriend would have sensed the people in the bus are devil would have saved this rape !

  • Prescilla/Vincent, Bejai/Sharjah

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Well written article Jerusha. Congrats... and God Bless...

  • Gladys Mudarth, Mangalore/Canada

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Very well written article Jerusha.
    My husband used to say God has
    fitted women with better quality hearts. I would say God has given us better bodies and heads too.

  • Mervin Pinto, Mangalore/Dubai

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Good one Jerusha, congrats...your a Star of Sequeira family.......God bless you and best of luck for your future work.

  • John DSouza, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Almighty God is the creator of all good and bad, visible and non visible things
    Being ruled by the devil, this world life is filled with full of wants and temptations
    Though cruel animals are tamed by humans, the human cruelty lies unchecked
    God created couple (male and female) to love and grow the society in peace
    Momentary attractions and senseless addictions are the destructive elements
    Merciless hunters have no concerns of prey as delicious meal is their only aim
    Even the huge elephant falls in ditch, if it becomes victim of mischievous trap
    Difference has been created by the creator and humans are to reduce the gap
    Wrongs and crimes committed first, investigation next, reach verdict unpredictable
    Good to be cautious and visionary while living, instead of useless post mortems

  • BALA, Kandavara

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Nice article,God bless you.

  • Joyce Rodrigues, Bejai/Dubai

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Well written Jerusha. Keep it up. Good article.

  • Leslie Sequeira, Surathkal/Dubai

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Very nice article Jerusha. Although everyone is aware of this particular incident, the way you portrayed it will definitely embolden victims not to succumb. Want to see more such relevant topics and young journalist like you can make a difference. Congratulations and all the best.

  • maria sequeira, surathkal

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    well said. its true. people need to speak up. only then can any oppression be stopped.

  • Vincent Rego, Derebail /Kuwait

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Keep it up Jerusha, Nice article. God Bless you.

  • Julie, Kinnigoli/Dubai

    Wed, Oct 09 2013

    Good article Jerusha... Keep writing.

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