Women's Day: A life snuffed out, a movement born
As we salute the spirit of the Delhi gang-rape victim this Women's Day, we bring stories of courage from across the country of women who rise against oppression and for equality and justice
Four years of a gruelling physiotherapy course in Dehradun, coupled with night shifts at a call centre later, the 23-year-old had finally come home to Delhi for an internship. She loved splurging on high heels and boots, looked out for the latest cosmetics, and spent hours in front of the mirror twirling her newly streaked, red tresses. She was the English-speaking daughter of a Class X pass father, who worked double shifts as a private airline loader to support his family. From the age of 14, she gave tuition to earn extra money for her family and to buy books and forms for college entrance.
She was worried about her final-year results, and felt stifled in the two-room house she shared with her parents and two younger brothers. She dreamed of travelling abroad for her post-graduation, and buying a new funky, smartphone with her first salary, the music library of which she wanted to pack with Enrique songs.
Her busy life, packed with dreams and possibilities, changed forever on December 16, 2012. From a hard-working girl trying to find a job in the big, anonymous capital and to study and travel the world, she would become a statistic in Delhi's rape crimes, only to emerge as India's braveheart daughter.
Her own name became unspeakable as the victim of one of the most heinous sexual assaults seen in the country. Yet, she triggered the biggest youth movement on women's safety in the country—starting on the streets of Delhi and going on to rock the legislature and judiciary. It brought some immediate systemic changes like fast-track courts and greater police presence, with the promise of many more, like a new law against perpetrators of sexual violence. It also became a movement keenly followed across the globe.
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