‘Shatter the Silence, Stop the Violence! Women Groups Stage Silent Protest Wanting ‘Freedom From Fear’
Mangaluru: Following close on its heels, after a bunch of Women Groups staged a silent protest in front of Mangaluru City Corporation building, last Sunday 4 October, once again a bevy of women from various organizations organized one more silent protest cum candlelight vigil in solidarity to gang-rape victim in UP and also other rape, assault, harassment happening on Women elsewhere in India, on Sunday, 11 October at 5:30 pm, near the Lady Hill Circle, Mangaluru. On 4 October, the City Cops had denied permission for a PEACE WALK named “FREEDOM FROM FEAR” planned by their very own ‘Peace Loving’ local women, when they permit others? #NoCountryforWomen Truly… When you cannot even walk past 7:00 pm in our own city…. Sad state of Democratic India, said a woman at the Peace Protest, on Sunday 4 October. (Ref: ‘Real Men Don’t Rape’ & Real Cops Don’t Discriminate against Women?’ say Local Women for Justice)
And this time, the Lady Hill Circle was all decorated with yellow buntings, thereby preventing the peace-loving women from having their silent protest inside and around the Lady Hill circle. Who had played that dirty tricks, no one has the clue-a few people said it could have been done by the cops or by a saffron group or a political party or someone else. Strange but true! Before the MCC elections, the candidates assured the voters that they would support and help all the communities, and now after coming to power, seems like they are supporting ONLY a certain community- and all our voters of a certain community, including religious clergy, voted for them and now they are facing the brunt of it-TOTALLY DECEIVED by the Elected leaders-Oh well!
The Lady Hill Circle was completely surrounded with Yellow buntings in order to prevent the Protesters entering the Circle, Bah humbug!
On Sunday, 11 October, a Protest planned by local women activists along with other like-minded men and women, gathered at Lady Hill circle, in a silent and peaceful protest in solidarity to women who are raped, assaulted, harassed, etc, including the gang-raped victim of UP. The “Freedom from Fear” silent protest began at 5:30 pm, with all the protesters holding a placard, and at 6:30 pm, everyone lighted the candles, with silent Rage against Rape. “Today our message to everyone is to stand in solidarity, stand united, stand fearless, speak up as we Stand against Injustice. If we do not Rise Today, the consequences for our next generation of women, Dalits and minorities are inconceivable. What happened in Hathras is wrong at so many different levels and we will not stay home, stay silent”, said a protester.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Ms Olga B Noronha, an ex-staff of Fatima Retreat House said, “It was heartening to see men and women gather together at Ladyhill circle to protest against the horrific violence meted out to the Hathras victim, resulting in her death and also to express anger at the inhuman action of the police in hurriedly and surreptitiously carrying out the cremation instead of handing over the mortal remains to the family. The heart-rending cries of the mother being denied a last glimpse of her daughter still rings in my ears! The victims dying statement should melt even the stoniest heart! It is our ardent hope that due justice will definitely be meted out to the culprit! Our slogans “Shatter the silence-Stop the violence”, “Punish the Culprit”, “We want justice” rang out in the stillness of the evening, and the posters screamed out at all the passersby, while lighted candles lit a glimmer of hope in our hearts that justice WILL be meted out to the heartless culprit!
Rationalist Prof Narendra Nayak, also speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “Rape and murder of women particularly the younger ones are happening in this country because of the support of the ruling classes and their ilk. The Hathras incident is one such. Many such keep happening and the brazen support of the caste groups and the vested interests emboldens the perpetrators of such crimes. One classic example of this is the brutal rape and murder of Kumari Soujanya of Dharmasthala which happened exactly seven years ago. Though an accused has been ‘fixed’ for that, all know who is behind that crime. The rape and murder of the young woman at Hathras UP is an incident that has stirred up the conscience of the right-thinking people of the whole nation. The midnight cremation of her body to destroy the evidence is an example of what lengths the administration can go to support criminals close to the ruling clique. The protest is against all such exploitation and the support of criminals by the state machinery”.
Yet another young lady holding a lit candle in her hand, emotionally said, “We have become aware that more people are fearful to be seen in public, or voice their opinion about matters of injustice in society, as they fear the rage, intimidation and victimization from the more vocal elements in our society. This fearful paradigm is further reinforced by the inconceivable, blatant, inhuman atrocities we have evidenced Hathras. We live in 2020 and most importantly in a democracy with a constitution, yet fear and rape continue to be a major concern for women, Dalits and minorities. We are not seeing the decline of these crimes against our own people, we cannot be mute spectators while such crimes increase and become more unacceptable as they get gorier”.
She further said, “If we go into fear and continue to live in fear, the issues and priorities of women, Dalits, minorities and other vulnerable communities will be even more acute. I speak as a woman and have said this previously that majority of rape incidents go unreported. It is only when the victim is mutilated and killed, we wake up. Enough is enough. We have to hold the perpetrators accountable so that such a thing never happens again. We have to build a society that is safe for our girls and women. It is our responsibility to stand up and demand justice for Rape Victim from Hathras and the many Rape Victims’ whose plight never makes it out into the open”.
Social activist Ms Vidya Dinker, who was the backbone of this silent protest said, “Today we say Enough is Enough, we say it together in solidarity. We will hold the perpetrators of injustice accountable for their action in each instance. We have to build a society that is safe for our girls and women and together we will strive to be Fearless. We stand in solidarity with the family of the Rape Victim from Hathras; We condemn the atrocities and harassment she and her family have experienced; We condemn the manner in which her body was cremated and she and her family were denied the rights of a humane funeral”.
In conclusion, in my perspective, I say that when the world is grappling with a pandemic-but guess what we are busy doing in our country- adding on to the statistics of violence and crimes against women. The sheer brutality of the crimes makes me question the audacity of the criminals. Why isn’t there any fear in the mind of the predators? Today I want to ask everyone if that incident was powerful enough to induce fear of the law in the minds of the criminals? Did it serve the purpose of stopping any such future heinous crimes? NO! All it did was to give a quick-fix cover-up to cater to the rising resentment in the country.
What we need is a sustainable system that ensures a safe environment for women, an assurance of quick justice, and severe punishment for the guilty. Before I end this report, let me tell you that I see women, including our Kudla women like Vidya Dinker, Asha Nayak, Shahnaz M, Mafuza, Saroja Prakash, Sneha, among others are at war in this country. And to those beasts aka cruel men, if it doesn’t bother you today because of your privileged status, remember “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are” – Benjamin Franklin. Long live all these brave women of Mangaluru who are fighting for women’s rights in this country!