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Northeast Today

Nirbhaya: Common Name of Equalization

Nirbhaya: Common Name of Equalization
July 17
15:11 2017

June Edition, Opinion, Subhrajit Roy

A brief

The brutal gang-rape of December 16, 2012, that shook the national sentiments and united it to stand against such heinous crimes, witnessed a major leap when the Supreme Court of India upheld the verdict of death sentence of the four perpetrators on May 5, 2017. Soon after the death of victim Jyoti Singh, dubbed initially as ‘Damini’ and better christened as Nirbhaya (fearless) generally forever, the enactment of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, with the hope of redefining rape and crime against women by making punishments more stringent and justice on a fast track move. The situation, however, has remained the same and several such incidents were reported even after the amended law came into action.

It is worth mentioning here that right after the May 5 Supreme Court verdict, the country witnessed two incidents of rape and murder almost on simultaneous dates- one at Rohtak (Haryana) and one at Baithalangso (Assam). It is reported that the Delhi police register 50 crimes against women on and average per day out of which four are rape cases.

The outrage of Nirbhaya incident forced the then UPA government at the centre to immediately constitute a Special Task Force on women’s safety, which the present NDA government at the centre disbanded in July 2016. Similarly, Rs 10 billion corpus fund-Nirbhaya Fund- announced by the UPA government in 2013 is yet to achieve its full fledged utility. Fast track courts for legitimate justice is yet have its existence of nomenclature.

Even now in many rape cases, reports are not filed properly and even if it is filed then those are done late. As a stunning case, starvation was recorded as the possible cause of death of Rohtak rape victim. Lack of coordination between the forensic experts who examined the crime scene and the doctors who conducted the post mortem has prevented the latter to provide a more detailed analysis in their report. Such systematic loopholes in policing and investigation use to make the procedure of justice more delayed and dilute.

‘One Stop Rape Crisis Centre’, formation of which was suggested by actor Aamir Khan in his show Satyameva Jayate, has come into existence since last year in some states. The aim is to open 5-6 centres every month, with a total of centres covering every district across the country. But as it is already said, the shortcomings in implantation and lack of coordination among various associated wings, forced the main objective to deviate.

Media’s role

The acts of dehumanization like rape can be handled with stringent laws supported by collective social responsibility. After every such incident, news media and social media play a very important role in universalising the incident seeking justice for the victim. Terming every such case as ‘New Nirbhaya’, news media generalises every incident on the same scale. Triggering moral outrage followed by anguish over the criminal acts, news media marginalizes the impact of these incidents. As a matter of fact only those cases which could win the attention of national media come into focus. Though the pains of both the victims are incomparable, but debate and discussions on the incident of Rohtak are much more than that of Karbi Anglong. Then the immediate question which may arise is that whether both the Nirbhayas are same or the demographic difference has distributed their weightage of attention.

As the name implies, Nirbhaya means fearless, the fight of Jorhat girl Shubh Laxmi for justice, practically justifies the name. Her initiative has encouraged many other girls to stand against such atrocities. But these acts of bravery get very little publicity on national platform. Jyoti Singh received justice very late, though she could not witness it during her life time. We often term all these Nirbhayas as fearless when they are not alive. But incidents of encouraging Nirbhayas who are setting examples are very rare.

Protest march against rape has transformed it on social media time line; slogans on placards have been transformed as status on those time lines and outrage on roads within heat and dust are now mostly showered within air-conditioned environment. Whatever may be the name used for the victims, all should get equal justice irrespective of demographic and economic status. Justice for all should come at the earliest whether it is at Rohtak or at Karbi Anglong.

Final words

The name ‘Nirbhaya’ when first coined had tremendous impact on the common masses, widely circulated by news media. After that, the general psyche about any such incident irrespective of the magnitude is equalized at the scale of ‘Nirbhaya’. Creating sensation of Breaking News about any incident with the tagline of ‘Nirbhaya’ by news media has becom a regular feature. The real issue may sometime get deviated just because of sensationalization. The common mass may derive the implication of using the tagline of ‘Nirbhaya’ just because of institutionalization of  Nirbhaya Corpus Fund and Amendment of Criminal Act by the Govt.

Widely used term ‘Nirbhaya’ may also be used for acts of the bravery shown by those women who are fighting against such crimes. Equalization may depict the concern of media in particular and society in general, seeking justice for the victims. But a mere generalization on news media and social media rarely justifies the real facts on the ground. As variations are inevitable facts on any aspect, thus variations in dignifying these incidents are also expected. Though the trend of equalization in nomenclature has already attained its position, it’s time to equalize in other fronts too viz. full proof investigation, fast track justice and national focus.

(The author is a freelance writer- cum-photographer based in Guwahati)

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