The New York Times described a “whoop of joy” echoing through the streets of New Delhi this past Friday, when four men, all of whom had taken part in December’s notorious gang rape and murder, were given the death penalty.
The story started almost a year ago, when a woman who has become known simply as “Nirbhaya” meaning “fearless” was attacked by six men on a New Delhi bus. They raped her, beat her, and used a metal rod to give her internal injuries so severe, she would fatally succumb to them two weeks later. The reaction to her story was instant: across the city, the country, and the world, social media exploded with cries for justice.
When that justice was finally announced by the court system, people cried and hugged each other in the streets, speechless at the fact that their protests have finally made a difference after so many grueling months.
Still, an air of doubt clouds the otherwise celebratory situation. Among the doubters are some of India’s most passionate activists. Their concern is rooted in the fact that this is simply one case. The culture of aggression towards women, they say, is still as present as ever, if not worse. In 2013 alone, 1,121 cases of rape have been reported in New Delhi. This number is more than double what it was in 2011.
Moreover, there are 477 people currently on India’s death row, and the executions are happening at a glacial pace. In the past nine years, only three men have actually been given their final sentence, and so the prospect of real justice isn’t as close on the horizon as some may anticipate.
Right now, though, vengeance isn't what we should be thankful for. We should be thankful for the hope that this sentencing could set a precedent for legislation that will protect and serve women across the country.
Thanks to the New York Times.
Image via Al Jazeera America