Nirbhaya. A name that brings to mind fearlessness, and the excruciating reminder of what happened to a medical student five years ago. As she returned home after an outing, she and her male friend were lured into a bus. Nirbhaya’s friend was beaten up, while she was gangraped by six men who admittedly became angry because she was fighting back. Fighting to break free, fighting for dignity, fighting for her right to consent. She was left unclothed on the side of the road, with her intestines hanging out because she fought and they retaliated with an iron rod into her extremities. Nirbhaya fought to live, to breathe even after the ordeal, but she couldn’t make it.
December 16, 2012 is seared into the memories of nearly every woman in the country. For good reason. We lost a young woman because six men took a drunken joyride on a bus and believed that ‘good girls’ wouldn’t be out at night.
On the fifth anniversary of the incident, we went out to find out what the commercial vehicle drivers, those to run the city’s public transport system are up to.
In 2014, Manas Foundation, an NGO that works for mental health care, started a gender sensitisation programme, and in the last few years the two-hour training classes have picked up pace. We attended one such class at the RTO Centre, Noida with much skepticism. A class cannot change anyone’s mindset, I scoffed, right before we reached the venue. With headlines getting more and more gruesome, and rape and molestation cases becoming more and more frequent, my cynicism came with good reason.
Two and half hours later, as we left the seminar hall and walked towards our own cab, my colleague turns to me and says, “even if it helps change the mindset of one man, that’s still something, right?”
Well, heck. That IS something.